The Korea Herald


'We overcame together': NCT127 returns on more solid ground

NCT127 returns after a year with fifth LP "Fact Check," celebrating its seventh anniversary

By Choi Ji-won

Published : Oct. 6, 2023 - 19:19

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NCT127 poses for a photo at a press conference for its fifth LP NCT127 poses for a photo at a press conference for its fifth LP "Fact Check" in Seoul on Friday. (SM Entertainment)

NCT127 seems to have safely survived K-pop's notorious "seven-year curse," although not things didn't go as smoothly as expected.

"Reaching our seventh anniversary, it's been a tough year for all of us. Different thoughts and concerns have crossed our minds and we faced many temptations. We even felt lost at times," Taeyong, the group's leader, said during the band's press conference in Seoul on Friday.

"It hit me then that NCT127 exists because the members can come together like this. The seventh year is significant to every group, but it feels more special for us. Our fellowship is stronger than ever. We exist because of our trust and respect for each other," Taeyong continued, not going further into the concerns and temptations that may have affected them.

The seventh year is a turning point for all K-pop idols as it is when their exclusive contracts with their agency come to an end. Most groups face a risk when they hit the milestone, with many either losing a member or two, or even breaking up completely.

But for a lucky few, it becomes an opportunity to rediscover themselves, with the members discussing their future together more deeply and fervently than ever. They become closer and get to know one another better and band together to decide that it's not time to say goodbye yet.

NCT127, which debuted under SM Entertainment in July 2016, overcame this critical period recently and returned Friday to declare its existence which remains on solid ground.

As a token of their new start, the nine-member group released its fifth full-length album, "Fact Check," on Friday.

According to Doyoung, "Fact Check" is an album that defines NCT127.

"I think our strength lies in the fervor we show in the music of 'Fact Check' and the powerful group dances. 'Fact Check' highlights those sides of us," he said adding, "Hopefully, we could prove again that NCT127 is a master of stage performance this time."

The boys seemed more solemn than ever on Friday as they introduced their new album, a release put out in over a year since the group's previous piece, fourth LP "2 Baddies," dropped in September 2022. In January, they released a repackage of the previous album under the title "A-Yo."

An album celebrating the band's renewed start, "Fact Check" embodies the group's passion and heart they had when they first began their journey, Johnny described.

Navigating back to the group's core identity, "Seoul" is the key theme of the album's namesake main track, "Fact Check." NCT127 is the Seoul-based subunit of SM Entertainment's global idol group project Neo Culture Technology, which aims to launch boy bands in major cities around the world. "127" refers to the longitude coordinates of the South Korean capital.

"As a team representing the city, we tried to show various beautiful sceneries of Seoul," Jungwoo said, adding the scenes were mainly shot in Gyeongbokgung Palace and Cheong-Gye Arcade in central Seoul and the IFC Mall in Yeouido, as well as Han River.

Doyoung hoped the group’s international fans could become more familiar with Seoul through their music video.

NCT127 holds a press conference for its fifth LP NCT127 holds a press conference for its fifth LP "Fact Check" in Seoul on Friday. (SM Entertainment)

The powerful dance anthem, which infuses exotic Afro beats with its intense main synth loops, renders out the self-empowering message that NCT127 is a group that has nothing to hide in fear of the world's fact check.

Performance is a major element the members worked on for "Fact Check," just as with any other NCT127 song. With the latest song, the group's main dancer, Taeyong, took a major role crafting the choreography.

"After watching a different original version of the dance together, Taeyong simply said 'I can do better.' And he really did, in just a day," Yuta said, to which Haechan piped in, "We've seen Taeyong's works before so we all looked forward. Because he knows each of the member so well, he came up with moves that was tailored for each one of us."

It was much more than swaggering their fiery energy through their song this time. "Festival" was a word the members repeated in expounding on about "Fact Check."

"It's a song that could play in a festival," Johnny said. Yuta added, "The song flourishes with the celebratory mood. We hope to spend a joyful time as if at a festival with our fans, NCTizens.

Also on the album are eight side-tracks, "Space," "Parade," "Angel Eyes," "Yacht," "Je Ne Sais Quoi," "Love is a Beauty," "Misty and Real Life," each painting different shades of NCT127's musical palette.

Member Taeil will not be taking part in the promotions of "Fact Check" due to a leg injury he sustained from a motorcycle accident just before the band's comeback. Taeil is currently recovering and will resume activities as a soon as he could, Doyoung said during Friday's event on his behalf.

With the new album, the group hoped to "fact check" to the world their talents while promising and unwavering faith to their fans.

"It would be a lie if we say we don't aim for good chart results like on Billboard. But at this point, when we have years behind us together, whatever scores we may be given, if our fans have a good time and take good memories from this album, I suppose that will be an even better gift for the fans," Doyoung said.

Quite disagreeing to Doyoung's cautious attitude, Taeyong said, "I actually feel confident and look forward to what new records we'll set with the album. We're striving our hardest right now so a breakthrough in the charts will definitely be a great cheerleader for us. NCTizens, let's have fun together!"

Their seven years seemed to have weighed on the bandmates heavily, driving them into deep thoughts about their past, present and future. Few seconds of silence preceded Mark's response to how he spent his seventh year.

"The seventh anniversary has made us realize how much we love our work. With this album, we've checked for ourselves that we value this team and are devoted to every single stage we do. I think we spent the most time speaking with each other this year than any other," Mark said.

"It's definitely a year full of concerns. That's why 'Fact Check' is an album that shows our determination and passion. When we chose the songs, we thought the most about making an album packed with what NCT127 was best at," Doyoung said.

An image for NCT127's fifth LP An image for NCT127's fifth LP "Fact Check" (SM Entertainment)

Yuta says that they now don't have to work to prove themselves. "We have our history, so whatever we do now, it becomes naturally NCT127."

The bandmates added that they were now preparing for a concert.

"We haven't been to Europe much and I hope we get more chances to visit there. I'd like to experience the different fans, cultures and moods of different countries," Jungwoo said.

The members refrained from addressing the contract renewal issue directly until the end of the event on Friday and only said they would promise to bring more to their fans as a group.

"We still have many thoughts going inside our minds about our visions or forthcoming plans, but every member genuinely loves music and performing and we want to give as much as we could to the fans. Please have high expectations for our future," Taeyong said, adding, "If it is possible, I personally hope our next album could be packed with only the members' self-written songs."

Looking forward to their next seven years together, Doyoung said, "One thing I can say for sure is that I really hope the fans who are with us right now continue to be with us seven years later."