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RPF Fandom
Name(s): EXO
Scope/Focus: K-Pop
Date(s): 2012-present
See also: GOT7, BTS, MonstaX, Seventeen, SHINee
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
image of the members of EXO gathered together wearing black suits. Behind them is a glass wall through which you can see stars, at the top is a partially eclipsed moon. Text reads "Black Pearl, EXO"
Black Pearl - EXO by Red-Hyena (2017), fan made album cover

EXO is a popular K-Pop boy group formed by SM Entertainment. During the group's first year it promoted as two separate units with six members each: EXO-M, who mainly promoted in China, and EXO-K, who mainly promoted in Korea.

The group's current members are Suho (Kim Junmyeon) (leader), Xiumin (Kim Minseok), Byun Baekhyun, Chen (Kim Jongdae), Park Chanyeol, D.O. (Do Kyungsoo), Kai (Kim Jongin), Oh Sehun.

The status of Lay (Zhang Yixing) is unclear, as he hasn't participated in group activities in person since 2017, left SM in April 2022 and has been absent from group releases since 2021. Former members are Tao (Huang Zitao), Kris (Wu Yifan) and Lu Han.

The group has two Sub-units: EXO-CBX, consisting of Chen, Baekhyun and Xiumin; and EXO-SC, which consists of Sehun and Chanyeol. Most members, except for Chanyeol and Sehun, have solo music careers of their own; all members, except for Chen, have solo acting careers of their own.



The official fanclub for EXO is called EXO-L, meaning EXO-LOVE. L is 12th letter of the alphabet, corresponding to the original 12 members of the group. It is also between K and M, which is meant to symbolize EXO-L promoting EXO worldwide alongside EXO-K and EXO-M. [1]

Because the group existed for over two years before being given an official fanclub name, there was a lot of speculation what the name might be. Many early international EXO fans took to calling themselves Exotics. Some were disappointed when the actual name was announced, while others found the meaning behind it sweet. [2] [3]

I agree with the general opinion that it’s not the best fan club name. It’s a little awkward, and it’s unfortunate the hand sign EXO uses is also the same hand sign that means Loser. But it’s not terrible. Really, there are much worse fan club names out there. Oh yeah, I’m looking at you JYP and your brilliant idea of “IGOT7.” Even GOT7 knows you f-ed up on that one.


Some fans prefer to call themselves as Aeri (or Eri), after Baekhyun referred to the fans as such in a tweet. The name is a combination of L (prononouced as Aer) and -ie, a suffix in korean that indicates closeness and familiarity.[4]

The fandom's official color is Silver, though no specific pantone has ever been stated by SM Entertainment. Perhaps due to this vagueness, fans have also claimed Cosmic Latte (#FFF8E7) as their fandom color, which has lead to the general misconception that this is the actual official color of the fandom, misinformation that's even managed to get into Koreaboo and KProfiles.[5][6]

Some fans believe this goes back to 2015 and it's due to a verse in the song Love Me Right, 내 우주는 전부 너야 (my entire universe is you), and Cosmic Latte being "the average color of the universe as perceived from the Earth".


There are three version of the official EXO lightstick. Version 1.0 was used for their early concerts, 2.0 was released in 2017 and version 3.0 was released in 2019. The three are similar in design, with the top looking like the EXO logo, but version 1.0 is black while version 2.0 and 2.0 are white. Version 2.0 also introduced the added feature that during concerts the light will sync with the performance. [7] While version 1.0 and 2.0 are sold out, version 3.0 of the lightstick can be purchased via the official SM Entertainment webshop. [8]

Solo Fandoms

As do many other big k-pop acts, EXO has always had a huge problem with solo stanning. As members have set off into their own solo ventures, both in the music and acting industries, members' solo fandoms have grown and solidified, resulting in extreme fandom in-fighting. Among the new fans who discover them through their solo work, there's big sentiments of dissatisfaction aimed at SM Entertainment for not managing talents the way fans wish or expect, as well as animosity against the other members of the group.

With the exception of Baekhyun, all members have uniquely named solo fandoms, though most of these have never been acknowledged by the artists. There's also cases of members having more than one solo fandom name.

  • Suho: bunny citizen or bunnyzen. From 토끼백성, literally rabbit people, adopted by international fans as bunny citizen. This is a nickname Suho came up with for fans who called him rabbit prince (토끼왕자님) and was adopted as his fandom solo name.[9]
  • Xiumin: elsas, since 2022 also fairies. Adopted after the Disney character from Frozen, Elsa, who has ice powers similar to Xiumin's. The term fairies was established by Xiumin himself during promotions for his solo debut album Brand New, denoting himself the Fairy King[10], and has been steadily been in use by him since then, as well as embraced by parts of fandom as a more gender-neutral term.
  • Baekhyun: doesn't have a widely accepted solo fandom name. Some fandom nicknames fans use include erikyoong, a combination of Eri and Kyoong (a cute way of pronouncing the last syllable of Baekhyun's name Khyun/Kyoong, 현 with the G/K sound from 백); and, according to some articles, "Baekhyun family". Other fans tend to call them Baekhyun-Ls or bbh-ls.
  • Chanyeol: yeolmae. From 열매, literally fruit or berry, and the phrase 알찬 열매, literally fruitful fruit or berry, which may be the origin of Chanyeol's (찬열) name.
  • Chen: soondingie. From 순딩이, a nickname Chen came up with during a chat event.[11] It means gentle and innocent.[12] More officially, Chen nicknamed his YouTube subscribers dandelions (민들레) in late 2019.[13]
  • D.O.: dandanie. From 단단이, strong ones, and 단단하다, which means strong or hard. It's connected to D.O.'s superpower, which is Earth or super strength (or both).
  • Kai: erigom. From Eri+곰 (gom, bear). Fans call him bear and he has adopted the nickname.
  • Sehun: xunqi. Originally coined by Sehun's extensive Chinese fanbase and later by international fans, Xun comes from Sehun's Chinese name and Qi from 骑士 (qíshì, knight).

Charity Work

As with most K-Pop fandoms, EXO-L have collected a lot of donations for charity in the name of their fandom and EXO over the years. EXO as a group have also been credited with doing private charity work and donating generously to good causes.[14] Many of the members have also asked fans not to send them birthday presents, but rather to use the money they might have spent on them to help those in need instead.[15] Because of this, many fan groups organize donation drives to celebrate the birthday of a member instead.

An incomplete list of charity projects by EXO-L between 2014 and 2017 can be found here.

In 2020, Korean EXO-L collected almost 13 million won for Hope Bridge National Disaster Relief Association to be used to prevent spread of the Corona Virus. [16]


Kris Leaving EXO

In May 2014 Kris filed a lawsuit against SM Entertainment, asking to terminate his contract.[17] The reasons he named for wanting to leave were that he had been diagnosed with myocarditis due to the rigorous schedule, and that SM did not treat him with respect.[18] [19] It was the start of a long legal process that ultimately led to Kris being the first member to leave the group.

The members of the group expressed confusion and hurt over Kris' actions, and many of the Korean fans felt betrayed by his actions. Some even claimed that his actions were typical of Chinese people, and that it was to be expected after Chinese Super Junior member Hangeng had terminated his contract with SM in a similar way. [20]

So he requested this to the same lawyer Hangeng used. This is why I don't like Chinese members being added to groups. I already knew Kris would do this when I saw him on varieties. Aigoo, SM are you stupid? You already got backstabbed by Hangeng, and now this again?


These reactions angered some fans, who felt there was nothing treacherous about Kris doing what he had to in order to be free and happy. Instead he was judged harshly because he was the first to leave, and because he did not share his intentions with the members an EXO vs Kris mentality arose among some fans. [21]

If they were real fans, they'd be happy for them. Their freedom and happiness should be important. They're not pets who they can just keep on leashes forever.


Baekhyun's Dating News

On July 19, 2014 a series of pictures showing Baekhyun in a car with Taeyeon, a SNSD member, were released by Dispatch[22]. Shortly after the news broke, SM Entertainement confirmed that they were indeed dating each other :

Having started off as close sunbae-hoobae, the two recently developed feelings for each other and are at the beginning stages.

SBS Popasia

Many fans were upset with the news, and a petition asking for Baekhyun to leave Exo was quickly created. It gathered about 1,800 signatures before it was deleted. [23]

Some fans also contacted SBS's Inkigayo to ask Baekhyun to step down from his job as a MC in the music show. Baekhyun also had to face fans calling him a "betrayer" while recording this show.[24] The backlash was so intense that Baekhyun published an apology letter on Instagram

Hello, this is Baekhyun. Although this is very late in reaching the fans… the reason I am leaving these words for you is because I wanted to apologise for hurting and disappointing you all. Many times I have written these words, only to erase them repetitively, feeling that I would just be making excuses, I also didn’t have the courage to give voice to my heart and clear the misunderstandings.. but I write this because I want convey my sincere feelings. I feel deeply sorry for causing pain to the hearts of every one of my precious fans. And for more hurt to be caused through the misunderstandings of what occured, I am even more sorry. Now that I am writing, I have thoughts that my words may be futile… I am afraid that I may regret posting this, because my words may cause more pain to someone. Those thoughts cause turmoil in my heart. My wish for our fans… is to never hurt again.. though I am extremely lacking, I will work hard and bit by bit approach our fans once more.. and EXO is such a very precious name to me. I want to make clear that I have never once taken EXO in vain. From now on I will be EXO’s Baekhyun who does his best both on and off stage. I hope that the sincereity of my words is conveyed..


While he deleted it soon after, this post gathered a lot of attention. Some people were accusing him of not being able to protect Taeyeon from hateful comments :

I just don't like people praising Baekhyun for apologizing when Taeyeon tried to do when it was going on and no one wanted to hear it.


I dont think either of them should apologize but taeyeon did when shit was hitting the fan/at the beginning bearing most of the burn, the period in which he should have said something has past and just now when the scandal has died down he decides to speak up? idk I'm iffy with that


But he also received many supportive comments :

Ppl hated on Taeyeon for apologising immediately saying it wasn't sincere, and when he takes his time to think out a proper apology he is hated on as well. You just can't win. Anyway this is not the first time he's speaking out since he did address the fans during the concert with pretty much the same message so I don't think the timing is really as big a deal as everyone is making it out to be.


Even if baekhyun's apology was a bit late i find his apology so sincere and as long as baekhyun is happy i'm happy too


The dating news also started various theories, some more serious than other:

To start off, the timing was a little too perfect. It had just been announced that Kr!s had filed a lawsuit against and was leaving SM Entertainment! SM, while probably expecting it, are panicking. Fans are hurt, angry, confused, and fighting. SM needs something to take everyone’s mind of the departure (and Kr!s’s claims of mistreatment). And what could possibly do that? Well, the first SM couple between a Girls Generation member and her number one fanboy. Said fanboy is also currently one of EXO’s most popular (aka most promoted) members, not to mention being part of one of the biggest EXO ships.


plot twist; baekhyun is actually gay and sm found out about it so they covered up for him by releasing this news


Baekhyun and Taeyeon allegedly broke up on September 2015, after what seems to have been an on and off relationship. [25][26]

Chen's Marriage Announcement

In 2020 Chen announced that he would be marrying his girlfriend, while also hinting at the fact that she was seven months pregnant. This sudden news divided EXO-L, and many reacted strongly to what they felt was a large betrayal.

EXO-L ACE, a large Korean Fanbase released a statement where they asked SM to remove Chen from the group. The reasons they listed were that Chen's actions reflected badly on the rest of the group, the fandom "falling apart" due to conflicting opinions about the news, and worry about EXO's future promotion schedule. [27] Similarly, the fanbase DC Inside EXO called for a boycott of EXO's promotions until Chen was no longer part of the group. [28]

Some fans were so opposed to Chen's actions that they organised a silent protest outside of a building owned by SM. About 50 masked fans participated, holding signs. [29][30]

We want him out of the group because we don’t want controversial labels following EXO. Being a baby daddy, premarital pregnancy -- these negative labels are tainting EXO’s image


Other fans reacted to the announcement with glee and humour, congratulating Chen and making jokes about how Sehun (who is the youngest member) would no longer be the baby of the group. [31] Especially international EXO-L condemned what they found to be toxic behaviour by the Korean EXO-L. To show their support, they made hashtags #AlwayswithCHEN and #EXOLBelievesInEXO9 trend on Twitter and organized streaming parties meant to boost Chen's music. [32]

Instead to tell Chen to leave EXO, why would you not leave the fandom? The problem isn't Chen. The problem is your toxic mentality. [...] Breaking news: all 9 EXO members are humans with their own feelings, their own private life and their own love life. They won't be single forever for your sick mentality. They are not your dolls. They are not your properties. When you buy their albums, this is the album that is yours, not the idol. Now take a deep breathe, question yourself. See how sick your attitude is and become a better person and support EXO happiness. Case when we really love someone, we want the loved one's happiness. Not to own him.


In February SM released a statment in support of Chen, letting fans know he would continue as a part of the group. [33] Following the controvercy, Chen also posted a letter where he apologized to fans for his poor wording and the suddenness of the news. He also thanked them for their love. [34]

Chen's daughter was born in April 2020, and twitter saw an outpour of support and love, making the hashtags #WelcomEXOPrincess and #종대야_축하해 ("Jongdae, congratulations") trend worldwide. [35]


As of February 2021, there are over 40k works listed under EXO on Ao3. In late December 2023, the EXO tag hit 50k works.


See: List of EXO Relationship Names

Because of the large number of works, all EXO members are shipped with each other (including themselves) as well as former members. However, some pairings are more popular than others. As of 2024, the ten most tagged ships on AO3 are:

  1. Baekhyun/Chanyeol
  2. Jongin/Kyungsoo
  3. Jongin/Sehun
  4. Chanyeol/Kyungsoo
  5. Baekhyun/Kyungsoo
  6. Jongdae/Minseok
  7. Junmyeon/Sehun
  8. Lu Han/Sehun
  9. Lu Han/Minseok
  10. Baekhyun/Jongdae


Popular tropes in EXO works include:

Example Fanworks


  • camera (shy) - jongin is suho's biggest fan, but strangely enough, he finds deceptively mild-mannered joonmyun even more intriguing. (curledupkitten)
  • Hunt Me Down - The streets held a lot of opportunities, there were many things you could do, many things you could become, many things that could happen to you. Chanyeol had chosen his own path when he was nothing but a child and he had never strayed away from it, now being a member of one of the most infamous assassin clans of the country and carrying the role of sniper. However, he hadn't foreseen their deals getting called off one by one to be given to a new assassin that no one knew anything about besides his odd name. He hadn't expected a confrontation that would throw his whole world into one big dark cloud of confusion either. (Bbaegi)
  • without you to hold i'd be freezing - Everyone around Chanyeol talks about how love hides behind every corner, but they are all wrong. The only thing that hides behind a corner is a short asshole who bumps into Chanyeol on a particularly busy morning and spills Chanyeol's coffee when he needs it the most. (mychogiway)
  • Following You Into The Dark - After witnessing their parents' brutal murder, brothers Kim Jongdae and Kim Jongin were forced to flee their home and forge an entirely new method of living to ensure their survival. Since the tender ages of 7 and 9, they’ve had to survive by their own means, living in a constant fear of an unidentified enemy that Jongdae code named, Them. Jongdae had begun to believe that perhaps as horrible as the event that night was, it was just a per chance instance. But the day when that belief is challenged, Jongdae has no choice but to accept that the relations run a lot deeper than he originally envisioned. That there is something connecting his family with Them. That there’s a personal vendetta somewhere along the lines. Jongdae knows this now, but he also knows they’ve messed with the wrong person this time around, and even if it kills him, he swears the outcome this time will be different. (nyxsomnium)
  • Phoenix - The mercenary crew of the Phoenix takes on the dangerous job of kidnapping three genetic experiments and bringing them across the galaxy, unaware that the scientist who created is chasing them to get his children back. Written as a part of the Exordium Challenge. (unniebee)
  • call me daddy, call me baby - chanyeol is going broke for his baby, but he would do anything to keep him...even if that means becoming a baby himself. (Okamiwind)
  • EXO-L/Army fanfiction on Twitter


Fan Videos

Fannish Resources


See: List of EXO Fests and Exchanges

LiveJournal Communities

LiveJournal Challenges

Twitter Fests

Other Resources

Official Accounts


  1. ^ All KPop [Updated] EXO announce fanclub name, 'EXO-L'! (Accessed 24 February 2021)
  2. ^ Kpop Your Life Say Goodbye to “Exotic” and Hello to “EXO-L” (accessed 24 February 2021)
  3. ^ Hello K-Pop How Everyone Reacted to EXO-L Being the Official Name for EXO Fans (accessed 24 February 2021)
  4. ^ Allkpop Forum Difference between EXO-L & Aeri? Y so many different EXO fandom names? (Accessed 24 February 2021)
  5. ^ Kpop Official Fan Club Names and Fan Colors (Updated!) - Kpop Profiles.
  6. ^ These Are The Official Colors For 40+ K-Pop Artists, Koreaboo. 7-May-2022. These Are All The Official Colors Of 30+ K-Pop Artists, Mikayla Berry for Koreaboo. 25-Jul-2020.
  7. ^ Kpop Fashion EXO Lightstick – Official Version 2 – Price and Where to Buy 2017 (Accessed 24 February 2021)
  8. ^ SM Global Shop EXO Official Fanlight Ver 3.0 (Accessed 24 February 2021)
  9. ^ The sincerity of all the EXO-Ls and Rabbit realm people worldwide has been conveyed to me so I’m really happy. Thank you. I love you. I hope my sincerity can be conveyed to you as well. Translated and reposted by fyexo on 5-Jun-2018
  10. ^ @xiubread (Accessed 8 March 8 2024)
  11. ^ Fan chat relay event translated and reposted by 카라 (Kara) (@103oclock) on twitter. 29-Jul-2015
  12. ^ 'Soondingie' or 'Soondoongie' means 'naive & pure' or 'gentle'! Chen's calling us gentle and innocent lol 🙊 follow up tweet by Kara.
  13. ^ 고운 그대는 시들지 않으리(Amaranth) - 첸(CHEN) description. 17-Dec-2019
  14. ^ Koreaboo Ways EXO Used Their Outreach to Promote Benevolence and Generosity (Accessed 24 February 2021)
  15. ^ Kpop Map Fans Touched By Reasons Of EXO Members To Not Receive Gifts Anymore (Accessed 24 February 2021)
  16. ^ AllKpop EXO-L donate nearly 13 million won to coronavirus relief and prevention efforts on behalf of EXO (Accessed 24 February 2021)
  17. ^ Quora When did Kris Wu leave EXO? (Accessed 10 March 2021)
  18. ^ AllKpop EXO's Kris seeking to nullify contract with SM Entertainment (Accessed 10 March 2021)
  19. ^ Soompi Kris (Wu Yi Fan) Releases Official Statement in Response to SM Entertainment’s Lawsuit (Accessed 10 March 2021)
  20. ^ Netizen Buzz EXO's Kris files a lawsuit to terminate his contract with SM (Accessed 10 March 2021)
  21. ^ Exo ft Kyungsoo Analysis of the Ex-Members’ Departure (Part 1 - Kris) (Accessed 10 March 2021)
  22. ^ Soompi Updated: SM Confirms, Girls’ Generation Taeyeon and EXO Baekhyun Are Dating (Accessed 08 March 2021)
  23. ^ Hellokpop Fans demand Baekhyun to leave Exo after dating scandal (Accessed 08 March 2021)
  24. ^ Soompi Fans Start Chanting “Traitor” at EXO’s Baekhyun During “Inkigayo” (Accessed 08 March 2021)
  25. ^ Koreaboo Taeyeon and Baekhyun are no longer a couple (Accessed 08 March 2021)
  26. ^ Koreaboo Truth behind Baekhyun and Taeyeon couple’s break up revealed by close friends (Accessed 08 March 2021)
  27. ^ Koreaboo EXO-L ACE Release Official Statement Demanding Chen Be Dismissed From The Group (Accessed 24 February 2021)
  28. ^ SCMP.com Why Chen of K-pop group EXO’s ‘selfish choice’ has upset so many fans – and is the ‘toxic’ response fair? (Accessed 24 February 2021)
  29. ^ The Star Upset fans demand that 'betrayer' Chen leave EXO, after marriage announcement (Accessed 24 February 2021)
  30. ^ The Korea Herald Why Chen’s engagement is dividing EXO fans (Accessed 24 February 2021)
  31. ^ Koreaboo 30+ Funniest Netizen Reactions To Chen’s Impending Marriage And Fatherhood (Accessed 24 February 2021)
  32. ^ @ForChenUnion (Accessed 24 February 2021)
  33. ^ Soompi SM Releases Official Statement Regarding Chen And EXO’s Future Activities (Accessed 24 February 2021)
  34. ^ Soompi EXO’s Chen Apologizes To Fans Over Engagement Announcement (Accessed 24 February 2021)
  35. ^ Insider Fans reacted with support and love following reports that K-pop idol Chen, of EXO, welcomed his first child into the world (Accessed 24 February 2021)