EXO fans see Chen with members for the first time in months as leader Suho departs for his military enlistment
It's that sad time of every K-pop fan's life when one of their idols has to fulfill their duties to their country by enlisting in the military for two years. This time, EXO fans have to say goodbye to leader Suho as he embarks on a two-year-long absence from his idol life.
But the goodbye was bittersweet as members Chanyeol, Chen, Kai, Baekhyun, and Sehun helped send Suho off. Chen, whose real name is real name Kim Jong-dae, has been largely absent from the public eye following his sudden announcement that he was getting married. He tied the knot with his wife in January, and the two welcomed their first child last month.
Naturally, the group's fandom EXO-L was over the moon seeing the boys together again after so long.
One fan stated, "If someone told me even a few hours ago that i would be seeing four (4) NEW jongdae pics today, i wouldve blocked them for mocking me during my time of pain," while another added, "So frigging true. It's one of the best things to wake up to and kind of sad too because f the situation."
The double-whammy of seeing Chen again and having to say goodbye to Suho was all too much for some EXO-Ls to handle. "I’m not crying... nope, i’m trying to...(And i missed jongdae too)," tweeted one distraught fan.
Fans also sent Chen some love, stating "Thank you for being brave jongdae." The idol has been at the receiving end of hate since he announced his plans to get married, including tweets like this one which reads, "Clean version I don't know who you are, but I'm a real genius / I will live," and features images of Suho's send-off with Chen edited out. A fan responded to the tweet asking, What's wrong with your brain? #JONGDAE is #EXO."
Another fan highlighted how difficult the situation has been for Chen, stating, "This makes me realize how f*cked up the KPop system is where idols don’t even feel like they can date cause their fans will be mad. LIST UP YOU ARE A FAN NOT THEIR LOVER. YOU DO NOT OWN THEM AND YOU DO NOT OWN THEIR HEART. YOU ARE JUST A FAN TO THEM NOTHING MORE." But nonetheless, Chen and EXO have continued to persevere in the face of hate, smiling brightly in their latest photos together. As one EXO-L stated, "This is for all antis who keep messing with Jongdae, Exo will be forever nine."
Some fans were surprised by how different the boys looked. "Also I’m legit not over how DIFFERENT Chanyeol and Jongdae look like please they’re literally just 2 months apart and already look like they’re on completely different points on the “Life” scale," tweeted one fan, to which another responded, "Chanyeol looks like a lowkey angsty teen and Jongdae already looks like a mid-30 Father™" and another fan joked, "Chanyeol be going through the e-boy phase," while one fan shared, "I thought jongdae gon be bald the next time we see him thank god that's not what happened."
As bittersweet as the moment was, for EXO-Ls it was a spot of brightness in their day. "EXO Upload their picture sending off to military. CHEN came together to send Junmyeon. Yixing send on his insta story about Junmyeon's Enlistment. such a beautiful day. EXO ALWAYS NINE," tweeted one devoted fan.