Whenever SEVENTEEN members are asked why they have 13 members but their name is a different number, they give this reasoning: 13 members + 3 units + 1 team = 17. And while that sounds like a legitimate reason and is taken as canon these days, that wasn’t always the case!
Back before the group debuted, during the days of 17TV that followed the members pre-debut, they actually had 17 members, 4 of whom left the group during the time before the group’s career started. Here’s information about each of those 4 members, why they left, and where they are now.
Jang Doyoon (born 1995)
Doyoon was originally going to be the oldest member of SEVENTEEN, and because of this, potentially the leader. Before his SEVENTEEN trainee days, he was actually going to be part of a group called Tempest, but when the debut plan didn’t go through, he moved to SEVENTEEN.
Before SEVENTEEN debuted, however, Doyoon left Pledis Entertainment in 2014 in order to pursue acting, which he was more passionate about to begin with. He says he doesn’t regret leaving the group, because acting is what he wanted to do.
In 2017, he did try to audition for YG Entertainment‘s idol survival show, MIXNINE, but was rejected.
He has starred in several dramas, including The Promise, Drinking Solo, and Sweet Stranger and Me.
Yao Mingming (born 1997)
Mingming came from China to train under Pledis Entertainment between 2012 and 2014. He’s a great dancer, and was going to be part of the dance line when SEVENTEEN debuted.
While it’s not totally confirmed, rumors have it that he left Pledis Entertainment because of personal reasons, as well as possible mistreatment by the company, so he went back to China once he left.
Like Doyoon, Mingming also auditioned (and participated) in MIXNINE, where he placed 10th and unfortunately didn’t make it into the final line-up.
In 2019, he joined Idol Producer and was highly praised due to his strong dancing skills. He met SEVENTEEN member The8 for the first time through this program, because The8 didn’t join Pledis until after Mingming had already left. He placed 3rd in the competition, and debuted with the Chinese boy group UNINE.
Shin Dongjin (born 2000)
Dongjin was the second youngest member of pre-debut SEVENTEEN, and trained with the company from 2013 to 2014.
He left the company in 2014 to pursue his education, but there are also rumors that Pledis Entertainment kicked him out due to dating a fan. There are other rumors that he’s now a trainee under KQ Entertainment, the label that ATEEZ is under.
Unfortunately, that’s about all that is known about Dongjin! Hopefully wherever he is, he’s doing well.
Samuel Kim (born 2002)
Samuel is probably the most well-known ex-member of SEVENTEEN. He trained under Pledis Entertainment from 2012 to 2013, and was the youngest member at the time, so the older members liked to take care of him.
Unfortunately, he left the company in 2013 because his mom thought he was too young to be an idol, which is entirely reasonable, as he was only 11 years old at the time!
However, Samuel’s dream was to become an idol, so after a couple of years, he joined Brave Entertainment in 2015 and debuted in the hip hop duo 1punch. Unfortunately, however, they disbanded after less than a year of promotions.
Later, he debuted as a solo artist Punch in 2016. He participated in season 2 of Produce 101, but didn’t make it to a high enough position to debut. Then, in 2017, he debuted once more as the solo artist Samuel with his song “Sixteen”, which finally started gaining him some traction. It was received well and many fans had anticipated its release.
He made his acting debut with the web drama Sweet Revenge Note 2, and has also released OSTs for many others. He has been able to reunite periodically with the SEVENTEEN members over the years, who are supporting him in his solo career. Currently, he’s been posting a lot of dance and vocal covers on his social media profiles.