The Ultimate Guide in Buying KPOP Merchandise

What made KPOP a worldwide phenomenon? Of course, the hard work of the KPOP artists is not to be taken lightly. But the main surfers of the Korean Wave are the fans. Undeniably, the support that they give pushed their idols’ global success and recognition. One great example is the BTS fans, or ARMYs. To help BTS break the wall to the American music industry, they gave out flowers and letters to radio stations to thank for BTS songs’ radio play around the country. This is one of the reasons why BTS gained huge recognition in the west.

BTS radioplay 1

Being a fangirl or fanboy may have a negative connotation, but honestly, they are just showing their love in their own ways. KPOP’s fandom culture mostly includes a show of loyalty through merchandise. Buying albums is the number one support a fan can give their idols as it will help them gain top spots in the music charts, both physical and digital. So to help you get started in buying KPOP goods here is a simple guide:

Buying KPOP Merchandise

For new KPOP fans, the idea of buying merchandise could be a little intimidating. As there are lots of methods and steps to do, they may be confused about where to start. But first, you should know what KPOP merchandise to buy. 

There are two categories: official and unofficial goods. The official ones are released by the KPOP group’s entertainment company. These are usually the albums, lightsticks, photo books, DVDs, concert goods, and season’s greetings. And a percentage of the sales will go straight to your idols. While the unofficial goods are fanmade like KPOP fanarts printed on shirts, mugs, stationery items and keychains that will support fans’ small businesses.

unofficial goods
Unofficial KPOP Merchandise, Andy Flores, Source: kkday.com

Unofficial KPOP merchandise can mainly be bought through international online shops. As they are usually fanmade, they are more accessible than the official ones. You may also see them at KPOP stores, both online and in-store, in your local area.

official goods andy flores (1)
Official KPOP Merchandise, Andy Flores, source: kkday.com

On the other hand, official KPOP merchandise should only be bought through official websites. Entertainment companies of huge KPOP groups have their own shopping websites: Weverse Shop for BigHit Labels’ artists like BTS and Gfriend, SM Global Shop for SM Groups like NCT and EXO, and YG Select for YG artists like BLACKPINK and Treasure. But they also distribute official goods to different accredited online shopping sites. Here are some examples:

International Online Shops

amazon screenshot
Source: Amazon website, amazon.com

In recent years, KPOP has been trying to break the walls of the American music industry. Buying albums on Amazon would help a lot in Billboard and other western charts. Overall, the website is user friendly, so ordering would be easy.

yesasia screenshot
Source: Yesasia website, yesasia.com

In yesasia, aside from KPOP items, you can also buy Japanese and Chinese goods. The albums and other merchandise are kinda pricey. This is because they offer free shipping if you buy items over $40. This is a good place to start buying heavy items like thick photobooks and DVDs packages as they don’t charge extra on the shipping.

KPOPTWON Store
Source: Kpoptown website, kpoptown.com

Uptown offers average prices for KPOP merchandise. They are also reliable in terms of packaging, making sure your items are safe. All in all, there is a wide selection of merchandise, and most are Korean releases. There are KPOP shopping websites similar to this like Ktown4u, Kpopmart, and Kpopshop.

mymusictaste
Source: MyMusicTaste Website, mymusictaste.com

MyMusicTaste is a K-tech company that organizes live concerts that started in 2013. It aims to hear fans’ voices through campaigns and funding. It’s an international fan platform where fans can request a concert of their favorite artist in their country or local area. Rookie KPOP groups mostly benefit from this program as they have a chance to perform live in any area with proper financial support from their fans.

Because of the funding nature of the company, they make use of limited-edition goods to sell merchandise and collect funds. You can buy exclusive signed albums, entries to international fansigns, some hard-to-find rookie groups’ albums, and other rare items from them. Of course, the prices would be extra expensive as they are part of a campaign to help groups organize a live concert. If you are capable of helping, this is the best site for you to buy albums.

Korean Online Shops

SYNNARA Store
Source: Synnara Website, synnara.co.kr

Cynara is recommended for those who want to be a part of a fan signing event. Buying albums from here could give you a chance to take a spot in your idols’ fansign, of course, during comeback season. Though, you can also purchase from here, even if you’re just buying regular KPOP items directly from Korea. They now have a global site option for international fans.

yes24 screenshot
Source: Yes24 Website, global.yes24.com

Yes24 now has a global website that caters to other countries, but the shipping may be complicated than other sites. Nevertheless, yes24 offers KPOP items that can’t be found in some international shopping websites like concert tickets and goods. You can add this as another option for your KPOP buying needs.

mwave screenshot
Source: Mwave Website, mwave.me/kpop-store/cd

Mwave is known to sell authentic and exclusive signed albums of your favorite KPOP groups and idols. They are under CJ ENM, one of the biggest entertainment companies in Korea, and also holds the broadcasting channel Mnet. The only problem is that the supply rotates really fast, so you must find the right timing to buy your idols’ signed albums.

gmarket screenshot
Source: Gmarket Website, global.gmarket.co.kr

Gmarket is like the Korean version of eBay in USA. They sell a wide variety of goods. There are also old KPOP albums that you can’t find on other shopping websites anymore. And the best thing would be the regular deals, discounts, and sales available. Bulk orders are recommended as the shipping price decreases as you buy more items. Some parts of the website are in Korean language, so you might need the help of a personal shopper.

Understanding Group Orders

KPOP albums are mostly inclusive of the cd, mini photobook, standee, and a random photo card. The thing is, KPOP fans would prefer to have their bias’ photocard. In case you don’t know, a bias is your favorite member of the group. To make sure that you get our bias’ card, you can join a group order (GO), organized by group order managers or GOMs. 

Group order managers are mostly fans with an online shop or a huge following on social media. During comeback season, they would order hundreds, sometimes a thousand of KPOP albums, depending on the number of fans who joined the GO. And most of them would join the “card pooling” where the GOMs would unseal the albums and take out the photocards. With this, fans would be able to choose their desired photocard from the pool.

Sometimes, GOs also take orders of merchandise. As long as there is a huge demand for an item, GOMs would take the initiative to organize the bulk order. This way, fans would save money from the shipping as they split the cost.

Avoid Scammer and Fake Merchandise

The best way to get “real” official goods is to buy from legit KPOP shopping websites like Weverse Shop, SM Global Shop, Bizment, and YG Select. All of the websites listed above are basically legit, tested by a lot of fans already. But if you still have doubts, you should stay away from sellers with lots of negative reviews. Testimonials are helpful if you are buying in a store for the first time.

Ratings are another thing. Even if a store has positive reviews, the ratings will indicate if a customer’s experience is 100% good or not. Maybe a fan was glad that her item arrived, but it could’ve had some scratches, or the packaging is roughly wrapped, so she might only give 4 or 3 stars.

With Korean version KPOP albums, the indicator if it’s real or fake is the KOMCA sticker. KOMCA stands for Korean Music Copyright Association. They are found at the back of an album or DVD released for the Korean market. The sticker is proof of its authenticity.

KOMCA genshaii reddit
New KOMCA sticker, reddit user Genshaii

Advantages of Having a Personal Shopper

Having a personal shopper is not new to the shopping industry. It offers a lot of benefits like saving time and avoiding overspending. But in buying KPOP items, having a personal shopper could mean a little different.

The best KPOP items can, of course, be found in its home country, South Korea. That is why a lot of fans are eager to go there just to buy exclusive, limited, and rare KPOP items that you won’t find on any other shopping websites. But if you are not capable of going to another country, you can choose to have a personal shopper. 

Not just in physical stores but also in online shops. In this case, a personal shopper is a local resident or citizen of South Korea, so they could provide a Korean address or phone number to online websites that need it. The list of Korean online shops above are usually in Hangul or Korean language, so they can also help you navigate it to have a smooth ordering process.

KPOP merchandise of different KPOP groups can be found on flagship stores within South Korea. They are usually the biggest and completely stocked stores that you can find. Some KPOP artists also have releases sold on a pop-up store for a limited amount of time. One example is GOT7 Jinyoung’s “Hey Guys” Photobook concept store. In these circumstances, personal shoppers could be a huge help to purchase these items.

Hear Here concept store
GOT7 Jinyoung’s Hey Guys Photobook Concept Store, KStationTV

Purchasing your desired KPOP merchandise may be difficult at first. But actually, there are so many guides and helpful websites that could ease the stress from you. Shopping sites are now more user friendly and easy to navigate. The customer services are exceptional; you’ll feel comfortable telling your orders and requests. 

Like DELIVERED KOREA, they could offer you consolidating, personal shopping, and worldwide shipping services. This is to help lessen the burden of going through the numerous steps of buying KPOP goods. Make use of the convenience that these businesses are offering for you to have a satisfying shopping experience!