The past weeks have brought significant changes for NCT as the K-pop boy band collective announced its first trio after announcing modifications to its original, ambitious concept.
In a video introducing a new splinter group titled “NCT DOJAEJUNG : Ready for Launch,” NCT members Doyoung, Jaehyun and Jungwoo give the first clues for their music as NCT DOJEAJUNG (the name coming from combining parts of their names as the Do from Doyoung, the Jae from Jaehyun and Jung from Jungwoo).
Filmed like a behind-the-scenes documentary, the guys talk about having “a lot to prepare” before traveling for a performance. The three stars exercise, pack their suitcases and work on some a cappella harmonies before heading out with space helmets in hand. At the end of the clip, we see Doyoung, Jaehuyn and Jungwoo stylishly posed on the moon’s surface, all to indicate a far-out concept for the trio.
NCT DOJEAJUNG will release Perfume – The 1st Mini Album on April 17. The EP will include six tracks, including lead single “Perfume,” plus new songs “Kiss,” “Dive,” “Strawberry Sunday,” “Can We Go Back,” and “Ordinary.” They’ll release teaser content related to the EP nearly every day ahead of the April 17 drop.
NCT DOJAEJUNG marks the latest move in the NCT world after announcing an overhaul to its founding concept. Initially introduced by SM Entertainment founder and the company’s former chief producer Lee Soo Man in early 2016, Neo-Culture Technology was a boy-band brand with “limitless” members that could be localized anywhere from Asia to Latin America.
After teasing 40 trainees ready to join the group, SM slowly built the brand with a pool of 23 members divided among its different groups: NCT 127 (the chart-topping outfit based in Seoul that debuted with seven and grew to nine members), NCT DREAM (a youthful unit of NCT originally meant for teen members of NCT to graduate from, but became a fixed once hitting seven members after fan demands), WayV (a China-based septet), and NCT U (a name given for any combination of members performing together).
Even as NCT groups racked up chart successes (releases from NCT, NCT 127 and NCT DREAM have all peaked within the Top 50 of the Billboard 200), fans have expressed worries about members being stretched too thin (Mark and Haechan belong to both NCT 127 and DREAM) or lack of attention for certain stars (members Shotaro and Sungchan don’t have a fixed group to belong with despite being introduced in 2020).
Amid the contentious bidding war between HYBE and Kakao Entertainment for a majority control in SM Entertainment these past weeks, SM’s current leadership announced sweeping internal changes to take place for the company in an effort to hold off control from a music-label rival like HYBE. In addition to promises for more transparency on music-release schedules, commitments for mental health resources, new label and management structures, and stricter action against online hate towards its artists, SM’s co-CEOs Chris Lee and Young-jun Tak shared the end of NCT’s “limitless” structure after a local expansion into Japan.
“Many fans have wanted to know,” Lee said in a video uploaded to SM’s YouTube channel. “With the debut of NCT Tokyo (tentative name) in 2023, NCT’s infinite expansion is scheduled to end. We are officially announcing there will be no more member changes, and we will support the existing members as much as possible so that they can engage in much more diverse activities.”
Since HYBE officially ended its quest by selling its entire stake in SM to competitor Kakao, NCT DOJAEJUNG marks the first move for the legendary K-pop label to make good on its promise to support the members through new projects.