Where is Kris Wu now? A look at former EXO member's life and career after he left South Korean-Chinese boy band
For a long time, there was quite a lot of confusion about why Kris Wu decided to leave EXO
It was February 2012 when Kris Wu joined the South Korean-Chinese boy band, EXO, as its 11th member. With a blockbuster debut, the band soon went on to become one of the most popular K-pop groups after their first album 'XOXO' and the record-breaking song 'Growl' in 2013. Did you know they sold over one million copies at that time and became the first Korea-based band in 12 years to do so?
The star, whose real name is Li Jiaheng and was later changed to Wu Yi Fan was born and raised in Guangzhou, Guangdong. Reports say that he moved to Vancouver, Canada, when he was just 10 and returned to China when he turned 14 for a short time. At 18, Wu auditioned for SM Entertainment's Canadian global auditions held in Vancouver and first took on a trainee job for the company after which he was offered a role in EXO.
Why did Kris Wu leave EXO?
Wu came into the limelight after being featured on EXO's 'Overdose' album released in May 2014 and it soon became one of the bestsellers in South Korea. However, that same year, Wu decided to leave the band. For a long time, there was quite a lot of confusion about why he took that decision. As per a KBI Zoom report, Wu first opened up about his decision and said that although he debuted with the band, it left him "no freedom for himself" in a radio interview.
Apparently, Wu did not get to pick his own songs, as per the same report. Shedding light on SM Entertainment's strict control, he said the company had a say in all of their activities and EXO was allowed to sing only certain songs that were selected beforehand. Due to that, he ended the contract with SM and took the decision to come back to China.
“Well, first of all I’m not Korean, right? I’m Chinese. Korea is not like a home for me, it’s not my base. So working there was still kind of stressful, I guess, for me. And… because the way that K-pop works, is that you gotta kind of do stuff that your company asks you to do,” he told DJ Gabby Diaz, as per a 2017 Hype report. He added, “Everyone had no freedom, and for me, it was super stressful. I wanted to do my own stuff. I wanted to make hip hop music. I wanted to make sure that the stuff that I sing would represent me as an artiste, and I couldn’t do any of that when I was in Korea. That’s one of the reasons why I left.”
However, when he was asked another time about his reason to exit EXO, he attributed it to his health condition. The KBI Zoom report quotes him saying his health check-up profile made it difficult to continue working with the group.
What happened to him after that?
The Hype report also goes on to mention that Wu went to the US to pursue his dream and admitted he found happiness once he went back to his hometown in China. “Now in China, I have my own company and I run everything by myself. I can just do whatever I want to do,” he shared. As a solo artist and actor, he made his debut in 'Somewhere Only We Know' and went on to star in several hits like 'Mr. Six', ' So Young 2: Never Gone', 'Sweet Sixteen' and 'Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back'.
If that was not all, he also made his Hollywood debut in 'XXX: Return of Xander Cage' alongside Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Ruby Rose and Indian actress Deepika Padukone. He then starred in Stephen Chow's film 'Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back', 'Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets' and 'Europe Raiders'.
Is he still in touch with EXO bandmates?
So, is he in touch with his former bandmates from EXO, or has the group moved on? As per the Hype report, the singer replied with an awkward “yeah”, referring to the latter three years back when he was interviewed.
Where is he now?
In 2018, Wu released his album 'Antares' and hit singles 'Like That' and 'Freedom' featuring Jhené Aiko. The next year, his song, 'Big Bowl, Thick Noodle' garnered more than 90 million views on streaming site Miaopai. On his 29th birthday last year, he dropped 'Eternal Love' and a micro-film with Japanese model Mitsuki Kimura, the daughter of actor Takuya Kimura.
This year in April, Wu released a four-track EP titled 'Testing' and the single 'Aurora' which was reportedly pre-ordered one million times barely one hour after it dropped on Tencent streaming platform QQ Music. The actor is also set to star in an upcoming Chinese television series 'The Golden Hairpin' based on the novel of the same name. Moreover, he is also a part of the judges' panel of 'The Rap of China 2020' — the fourth installment of the Chinese youth rap music reality show — along with rapper, singer and producer Will Pan, singer and producer Jane Zhang and rapper, singer, and songwriter GAI.