The Ultimate Guide to NCT: Everything you need to know

You might find k-pop idol group NCT too confusing. They have many sub-unit concept and also members!
 
But, StyleupK is here to help with this helpful guide about NCT!

 

Why is NCT formed?

NCT is a boy kpop group by SM Entertainment.
 
As the Hallyu Wave grows bigger, NCT is SM Entertainment’s answer for the growing demand for K-pop content.
 

What does NCT mean?

NCT stands for Neo Culture Technology. So what exactly does that mean?
 
The meaning of neo is "new" or "modified".
 
As such, SM's wish for NCT is for them to create new cultures. That would mean creating groups that target specific cultures and relate to them.
 
Thus, NCT is also known as a “limitless” boy group. They have many members and many music concepts. Ultimately, it is a idol group that has no limits.
 

Is NCT the first SM group with many member?

 
Fun fact: SM Entertainment initially planned for Super Junior to have a similar concept.
 
When they first debuted, Super Junior was intended to have a graduation system. This means that their lineup was not fixed:-New members were supposed to be added as existing members graduate from the group.
 
However, E.L.F fans got too attached to the original lineup, causing the graduation system to be scrapped.
 
Despite that, SM Entertainment did not give up on the concept, modifying it slightly before reintroducing it with NCT’s debut.
 
All members of NCT will remain members of the group once they debut, but new members will continuously be added.
 
This way, fans of existing members will continue being fans of the group, while new members attract even more fans.
 

NCT members and sub-units

 
Currently, NCT consists of 23 members across 4 sub-units. While this may seem overwhelming for new fans, it is actually not as complicated as it seems.

NCT U

nct u
‘The 7th Sense’ lineup (from L to R): Ten, Jaehyun, Doyoung, Taeyong, Mark. Image: SM Entertainment
The first sub-unit to debut was NCT U. They debuted with a double single, The 7th Sense and Without You, on 9 April 2016.

The lineup consisted of members Jaehyun, Taeyong, Taeil, Ten, Mark, and Doyoung.
without u nct
‘Without You’ lineup (from L to R): Doyoung, Jaehyun, Taeil. Image: SM Entertainment

NCT U is the most confusing sub-unit, as it is a rotational unit. This means that the lineup for NCT U is not fixed.

However, NCT U is also the least active sub-unit—apart from their debut singles, the rest of their discography consists only of drama OSTs and tracks in joint NCT albums.
nct u
‘Boss’ lineup (from L to R): Doyoung, Winwin, Jaehyun, Taeyong, Lucas, Mark, Jungwoo. Image: @NCT_official_jp
One song we recommend: Boss


NCT 127

The second sub-unit to debut was NCT 127, on 7 July 2016, with Fire Truck.

NCT 127 is the Seoul-based unit of NCT, and the ‘127’ in their name refers to the longitude coordinate of Seoul.

Although NCT 127 is a fixed unit, the sub-unit has gone through some changes to their lineup.

NCT 127 originally debuted as a seven-member group, consisting of members Taeil, Yuta, Taeyong, Jaehyun, Winwin, Mark, and Haechan.
nct127
Original NCT 127 lineup (from L to R): Haechan, Jaehyun, Taeyong, Mark, Winwin, Yuta, Taeil. Image: theqoo.net

For their second EP Limitless, SM announced that two new members, Johnny and Doyoung (NCT U member), would be joining NCT 127.
nct limitless
2nd NCT 127 lineup (from L to R): Johnny, Doyoung, Yuta, Winwin, Taeyong, Jaehyun, Taeil, Haechan, Mark. Image: @jaehyun_0214
In 2018, NCT 127 released their first full album, Regular/Irregular.

The group also added a new member, Jungwoo (member of NCT U’s Boss unit), bringing the total number of members up to ten.
nct 127
3rd NCT 127 lineup (from L to R): Doyoung, Haechan, Mark, Winwin, Taeyong, Jaehyun, Yuta, Taeil, Jungwoo, Johnny. Image: thebiaslist.com

NCT 127 promoted briefly as a ten-member group. However, Winwin did not join them for their LP repackage promotions as he was preparing to debut with WayV, and Haechan took a hiatus due to injuries.

Haechan returned to the group a few months after, but Winwin has stopped promoting with NCT 127 since 2018. SM Entertainment has not made any official statement with regards to Winwin’s status.
nct127
Current active NCT 127 lineup (from L to R): Jungwoo, Johnny, Taeyong, Taeil, Mark, Haechan, Jaehyun, Yuta, Doyoung. Image: reddit

Here’s an interview NCT 129 did with Buzzfeed back in 2019! Not only did it have us in stitches with laughter, it’s also a great way to get to know the members and get a peek at the group dynamics.
One song we recommend: Kick It


NCT Dream

The third NCT sub-unit, NCT Dream, debuted on 25 August 2016, with title track Chewing Gum.

The debut lineup consisted of seven members Mark, Haechan, Jaemin, Jeno, Renjun, Chenle, Jisung. Their average age was only 15.6 years old!

As opposed to NCT 127’s more hip hop oriented concepts and music, NCT Dream had a much more youthful vibe.

However, their music has matured over the years along with the age of the members.

nct dream
Debut NCT Dream lineup (from L to R): Jeno, Haechan, Chenle, Mark, Jisung, Jaemin, Renjun. Image: spottvnews


Initially, NCT Dream was meant to follow a graduation system. Members would leave the group once they turn 20 (19 international age), and new members would be added.

Mark was the first member to graduate, and NCT Dream had their first comeback without him in 2019.

nct dream 2019

2nd NCT Dream lineup (from L to R): Chenle, Jeno, Jaemin, Jisung, Haechan, Renjun. Image: weibo


But, SM Entertainment then formally announced the abolishment of this graduation system in 2020. Mark (who had previously graduated and had not promoted with the group since 2018) was then re-added to the official lineup.

Watch STATV’s short three-part series with NCT Dream to get to know the members!

However, while existing members will no longer leave the group, the lineup for NCT Dream will be rotational.

This means that not every comeback will feature all of them. This allows the members to promote with other NCT sub units (such as NCT 127, which Mark and Haechan are both fixed members of).

As of March 2021, NCT Dream has not made a comeback with all seven members.

One song we recommend: Boom


NCT 2018

In 2018, NCT embarked on its first large-scale collaborative project.


Both NCT 127 and NCT Dream, as well as new combinations of NCT U were featured on the album, titled Empathy.

NCT 2018 marked the formal debut of members Kun, Jungwoo, and Lucas.

nct 2018
NCT 2018 lineup (from L to R): Kun, Taeil, Doyoung, Chenle, Renjun, Jungwoo, Jaemin, Jeno, Jaehyun, Taeyong, Winwin, Lucas, Ten, Mark, Jisung, Yuta, Johnny, Haechan. Image: seoulbeats


One of the promotional tracks was Black on Black, a track that featured all eighteen members.
nct 2018 18 members

Image: kelandmelreviews

This was the first time all eighteen members had shared a single stage, and they are absolutely amazing to watch.

One song we recommend: Black on Black

WayV

The latest of the NCT sub-units to debut, WayV (威神V in Chinese) is NCT’s Chinese sub-unit.


Why does WayV not contain NCT?


The first thing you might notice about WayV is their name—unlike the previous sub-units, they do not contain NCT in their group name.

This is due to political tensions between South Korea and China at the time of WayV’s debut. This led to WayV unable to openly associate with NCT, a Korean boy band.

They are also managed mainly by Label V, SM Entertainment’s China-exclusive label.

Had it not been for these issues, WayV is rumoured to have been originally named NCT Vision.

Although the rumor is unconfirmed, it does make sense, as the outro track on NCT 2018 Empathy was titled Outro: Vision.

WayV itself is also an acronym for “We Are Your Vision”.

WayV made their debut with Regular (a Chinese version of NCT 127’s Regular) on 17 January 2019, with members Kun, Ten, Winwin, Lucas, Xiaojun, Hendery, and Yangyang.

Despite being from different cities—different countries even, for Bangkok born-and-raised member Ten—all of the members are of Chinese descent.

Be awed by WayV’s language abilities in this video with Hello82, where they learn some Bahasa Indonesian.

Of the seven members, four had previously debuted with NCT—Kun, Ten, and Lucas had been in NCT U, while Winwin had been in both NCT 127 and NCT U.

The other three youngest members made their debut with WayV.

wayv
WayV lineup (from L to R): Kun, Yangyang, Winwin, Lucas, Ten, Xiaojun, Hendery. Image: sina


WayV is the only NCT sub-unit that has not undergone any lineup changes. However, WayV is currently promoting their latest comeback as a five member group. As members Lucas and Winwin are in China for personal schedules at the moment.

Lucas and Winwin participated in the tracks on the EP, Kick Back, but are not promoting the title track on music shows with the rest of the group.

nct wayv

WayV current promotional lineup (from L to R): Ten, Xiaojun, Kun, Yangyang, Hendery. Image: twitter

wayv china

WayV members Winwin (L) and Lucas (R) are currently in China. Image: Twitter

One song we recommend: Kick Back

kick back nct

As part of their promotions for Kick Back, WayV are encouraging fans to take part in their Kick Back challenge on TikTok. Check out the dance and give it a try yourself!


NCT 2020

In 2020, two years after their first collaborative album, SM Entertainment announced the NCT 2020 project.

Just like NCT 2018, this project would feature all the members of NCT, and it marked WayV’s official acknowledgement as an NCT sub-unit.

Titled Resonance, the NCT 2020 album features tracks from all three fixed-units, as well as NCT U.

The new members, Shotaro and Sungchan were also introduced in this album.

Both new members participated in NCT U tracks from Resonance, but are not in any fixed units as of March 2021.

nct 2020
NCT U ‘Make A Wish’ lineup (from L to R): Xiaojun, Jaemin, Shotaro, Taeyong, Jaehyun, Doyoung, Lucas. Image: Twitter

nct 2020

NCT U ‘90’s Love’ lineup (from L to R): Haechan, Ten, Mark, Winwin, Jeno, Sungchan, Yangyang. Image: reddit

Shotaro and Sungchan also participated in Resonance, a mash-up of several NCT U songs from the NCT 2020 albums. It features all twenty-three members.

Song we recommend: Resonance

Check out Shotaro’s part at 0:52 (from Make A Wish) and Sungchan’s part (from 90’s Love) at 1:45!

Most popular NCT groups


NCT 127 is probably one of the most well-known NCT sub-units, along with NCT Dream.

Most people are less familiar with the other two sub-units, NCT U and WayV, for a variety of reasons.


Other Collaborations


Some of the NCT members also have activities outside of the group!

Doyoung of NCT 127 and Baekhyun of EXO recently released a duet, while 4 other members join a super group with their company seniors.

Yes, four members of NCT—Mark and Taeyong from NCT 127, along with Ten and Lucas from WayV—are part of SuperM. How amazing is that?

Many of the NCT members have cited SHINee and EXO as seniors that they look up to. Some memebrs were even inspired by these K-pop veterans to join the industry in the first place!

This makes it super cool that they’re able to work together.

Mark, Taeyong, Ten, and Lucas all often talk about how amazing it is to work with their seniors, as well as how much they’ve learned from them.

Watch SuperM take the friendship test and see for yourself how close the NCT boys have gotten to their seniors!


Conclusion


While the sheer size of NCT might be intimidating at first, it helps to think of them as three groups (NCT 127, NCT Dream, WayV) under the same brand.

They occasionally get together to collaborate as NCT U.

What sets NCT apart from other groups is the sheer variety that they offer, both in terms of concepts and music, as well as personalities within the group.

Each sub-unit of NCT has their own unique concepts—NCT 127’s sound tends to lean towards hip hop, while NCT Dream has a more youthful concept, and WayV sings in Chinese.

Also, with twenty-three members in one group, it means that there will definitely be at least one person that you’re bound to like!

All the members bring something special to the group, and NCTzens and Wayzennis are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to picking a bias.

While there are fans who enjoy and support all three fixed sub-units, it is not a requirement at all! There are many fans who mostly support one sub-unit while still being respectful of the other two.

Do you have a better understanding of NCT?

Share this article with someone who is confused about NCT!

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