NCT is an all-male South Korean idol group formed by SM Entertainment. The initials stand for “Neo Culture Technology”, which is coined by SM Ent’s founder, Lee Soo Man, to describe the group’s having nan unlimited number of members divided into sub-units based in various cities all over the world.
Currently, the group is actively promoting three sub-units – NCT U, NCT 127, and NCT Dream. NCT U debuted in April 2016 with the digital singles “The 7th Sense” and “Without You”. NCT 127, which is the group based in Seoul, debuted in July 2016 with their mini album NCT #127. NCT Dream debuted in August 2016 with the digital single “Chewing Gum”.
According to reports, NCT is also set to debut more sub-units based in various cities such as China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnamn, and Indonesia.
As of February 2018, the group is composed of 18 members: Taeyong, Taeil, Johnny, Yuta, Kun, Doyoung, Ten, Jaehyun, Winwin, Jungwoo, Lucas, Mark, Renjun, Jeno, Haechan, Jaemin, Chenle, and Jisung.
All members of NCT, except for Renjun and Chenle, were former members of SM Rookies, a pre-debut group formed by trainees from SM Entertainment.
In January 2016, Lee Soo Man first gave a presentation titled “SMTOWN: New Culture Technology 2016” at the SM Coex Artium where he spoke about the agency’s plans of debuting a new boy group in line with the company’s “culture contents” vision. The end goal is to launch different units based in various countries worldwide.
2016: NCT U, NCT 127, and NCT Dream Official Debut
Among all NCT units, NCT U was the first to be announce on April 4, 2016. The group consists of six members: Taeil, Taeyong, Doyoung, Ten, Jaehyun, and Mark. They released two digital singles, “The 7th Sense” and “Without You” on April 9 and 10, respectively. Both songs were released in two versions with the Korean version sung by Taeil, Doyoung, and Jaehyun, and the Chinese version sung featuring Kun from SM Rookies.
NCT U made their first broadcast on April 9 with NCT On Air on Naver’s V app, hosted by their labelmate Heechul of Super Junior. On the same day, the unit also performed live for the first time at the 16th Music Feng Yun Bang Awards in China along with two other Chinese members, Kun and WinWin.
They debuted in Korea on KBS’ Music Bank on April 15 and starred in three seasons of their own reality show, NCT Life, where they featured other SM Rookies.
The next unit to be announced by SM Entertainment was NCT 127 on July 1, 2016. ‘127’ stands for the longitude coordinate of Seoul where the unit is based. It is composed of seven members: Taeyong, Taeil, Yuta, Jaehyun, WinWin, Mark, and Haechan.
On July 7, the group had their official stage debut on M Countdown, performing their title track “Fire Truck” and “Once Again” from their debut EP NCT #127. The EP was released digitally on July 10 and physically on July 11. On July 29, NCT 127 released the single “Taste the Feeling” for SM Station in collaboration with Coca-Cola.
The last unit to be announced by SM Entertainment is NCT Dream on August 18. The group is composed of the youngest members of NCT – Mark, Renjun, Jeno, Haechan, Jaemin, Chenle, and Jisung. They released their first single “Chewing Gum” on August 24 and made their official stage debut on M Countdown on August 25.
On December 6, NCT 127 members Yuta, Taeyong, Jaehyun, Mark, and WinWin released “Good Thing”, a special dance music video in collaboration with W Korea, which was also eventually made part of NCT 127’s second mini album, Limitless. And on December 20, the unit also released the music video for their song “Switch” featuring SR15B. The song was previously released as a bonus track for the mini album NCT #127.
On December 27, NCT 127 announced their comeback in the coming year with the addition of two members, Johnny and Doyoung.
NCT 127 went on to win the Best Rookie Award at the Asia Artist Awards and Best New Artist Male Group at the Mnet Asian Music Awards.
2017: NCT 127 and NCT Dream comeback
On January 5, 2017, the music videos for the song “Limitless” was officially released and NCT 127 had their comeback stage on M Countdown. The unit’s mini album of the same title was released digitally on January 6 and physically on January 9. Limitless debuted at number one on Billboard’s World Albums Chart and was named as one of the top 20 best K-pop songs of 2017 by Dazed Digital.
NCT Dream released their first single album on February 9, titled The First. However, the unit did not include Jaemin in the promotions due to health problems. NCT Dream had their comeback stage on M Countdown, showcasing “My First and Last” and the B-side track “Dunk Shot”. On February 14, NCT Dream won 1st place on the 100th episode of SBS MTV’s The Show, the first music show win for any NCT unit. NCT Dream was also announced as the official ambassador for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea for which they released the song “Trigger the Fever” on March 15.
Johnny and Jaehyun of NCT 127 were announced as the newest DJs for the new SBS Power FM program NCT’s Night Night, which started airing on March 20.
On June 14, NCT 127 released their third mini album, Cherry Bomb, bannered by the title track of the same name. They held their first comeback stage for the album on M Countdown where they performed the lead single “Cherry Bomb” and “0 Mile”. “Cherry Bomb” was selected as one of the best K-pop songs of 2017 by Billboard and Idolator.
NCT Dream released their first mini album, We Young, on August 17. The unit performed their first comeback stage on M Countdown with the title track “We Young”. In December 2017, the unit also released their first Christmas song, “Joy”.
This year also proved to be the most successful for NCT so far as shown by the numerous awards they received at the end of 2017. NCT 127 won Rookie of the Year at the Gaon Chart Music Awards, New Asian Artist at the Mnet Asian Music Awards, and New Artist of the Year at the Golden Disk Awards and Seoul Music Awards. The unit was also awarded New Hallyu Best Performance in the Boy Group category at the Soribada Best K-Music Awards.
In China, NCT 127 won Best Rookie of the Year and Hallyu Rookie Award while NCT Dream won Top Promising Group at the Yin Tue Tai V-Chart Award.
2018: New members and NCT 2018: Empathy
In January 2018, Taeil, Doyoung, and Jaehyun of NCT U released the single “Timeless” for the SM Station project.
In mid-January, NCT was announced to be getting ready for a “large-scale project” titled NCT 2018, bannered by huge comeback promotions for each of the units. By January 30, SM Entertainment released the video “NCT 2018 Yearbook #1” featuring all current members and with the addition of new members Kun, Lucas, and Jungwoo.
In February, the group released a series of online documentary videos titled NCTmentary, which also part of the project. It was also confirmed that all NCT members will participate in the upcoming album which will include tracks from all NCT units. A total of 6 music videos will be released ahead of the group’s official comeback.
NCT held their first live broadcast as an 18-member group on Naver’s V Live app on February 6. The broadcast was hosted by Leeteuk of Super Junior and saw the group register a record-setting 500,000,000 hearts on the app.
On February 14, SM Entertainment announced the first part of the NCT 2018 series with NCT U’s comeback with the existing unit members Taeyong, Doyoung, Jaehyun, and Mark, plus new members WinWin, Lucas, and Jungwoo.
NCT U released the song “Boss” on February 19 and went on to promote in various music shows. In between promotions for “Boss”, NCT U members Ten and Taeyong also released the special track “Baby Don’t Stop”.
On March 4, NCT Dream followed it up with a release of their unit song, “Go”, while NCT 127 released the single “Touch” on March 13. The following day, NCT released their album NCT 2018: Empathy.
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