BY Adrienne Stanley | Feb 11, 2016 09:56 AM EST
Regardless of whether Hallyu aficionados and critics would like to admit it, former EXO members Kris Wu (Kris, Wu Yi Fan) and Luhan are gaining more attention from Hollywood than top Korean actors like Lee Min Ho or Kim Soo Hyun.
Ironically, neither pop vocalist-turned-actor is of Korean descent and are currently promoting in mainland China but they are emerging as Hollywood's new faces of Hallyu or a phenomenon that is also known as the Korean Wave.
Wu is a 25-year-old singer-songwriter who was born and raised in Guangzhou, a central transportation hub before he relocated to Canada at age 10.
Luhan is also 25-years-old and resided in Beijing before he traveled to South Korea to attend Yonsei University.
In 2010, he was scouted by SM Entertainment and debuted alongside Wu as part of the then-12 member group EXO.
Both stars remained with EXO and promoted Mandarin-language releases with the unit group, EXO-M until they attempted to nullify their contracts in 2014.
Since their controversial departure from SM Entertainment, the ex-K-pop idols have managed to land roles in major U.S. releases helmed by luminaries like Academy Award nominated actor Matt Damon and action superstar, Vin Diesel.
Luhan delivered a notable acting debut in the supporting role of Xiang Qianjin in the Chinese adaptation of the Korean hit, "Miss Granny," titled "20 Once Again." Bolstered by international distribution through CJ Entertainment, the January 2015 release set the tone for his future opportunities as an actor.
He followed with an appearance in the ensemble cast of the Hong Kong comedy romp, "12 Golden Ducks," which featured other luminaries from Chinese-language entertainment like Sandra Ng, Michelle Chen, and Eason Chan.
Luhan concluded 2015 with the crime noir, "The Witness," a remake of the critically-acclaimed Korean film, "Blind." He portrayed Linchong, a teen who becomes entangled with a visually impaired woman when he claims to witness the same crime.
While EXO served as the ambassadors for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in Korea, Luhan also donned a lightsaber, becoming a mystical Jedi with the Chinese-language release, "The Inner Force."
In 2016, he will make his Hollywood debut opposite lauded actors Matt Damon, Andy Lau and Willem Dafoe in the American-Chinese co-production, "The Great Wall."
Kris Wu debuted as an actor in the February 2015 Chinese romantic melodrama, "Somewhere Only We Know." He followed with a starring role in the action blockbuster, "Mr. Six."
Wu has several high-profile projects lined up over the next two years, including his recent casting in the Vin Diesel action extravaganza, "XxX: The Return of Xander Cage." He is also slated to join Cara Delevingne in "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets," a French English-language science fiction film.
His profile continues to increase beyond his work as an actor through his recent runway debut at the 2016 F/W Burberry runway show and his addition to Team Drake at the NBA All-Stars game.
While they have maintained success with acting roles after EXO, their solo music releases have yet to gain ground beyond China.
Their musical pursuits could also be thwarted by a February 11 announcement that their former company, SM Entertainment, has formed a relationship with Alibaba Music, a leading distributor in mainland China.
"SM Entertainment entered into a partnership with Alibaba Group," reported Sports Seoul. "SM Entertainment and China's largest e-commerce company, Alibaba Group, announced a 4 percent stake acquisition of Alibaba, under the cooperation of SM Entertainment."
Meanwhile, EXO, the former group of Luhan and Kris Wu, is currently on tour in North America.
What are your thoughts on the success of Kris Wu and Luhan, following their departure from EXO? Why do you think they have made progress within Hollywood? Comment below.
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