Being a KPOP fan is all well and good when you live in South Korea. When you live outside of it, however, you find your wallet growing thin, your bank balance decreasing, and your free time growing short due to the fact that the KPOP industry is a lucrative and demanding one.
Avid KPOP fans spend much of their allowances (if they are students) and salaries (if they are employed) on concerts, albums, and fan merchandise. Fan expenses are cheaper when you live in Korea, but how expensive is it to be an international fan?
Albums and Concert DVDs
Entertainment companies earn a lot of money by releasing albums that come in different versions and languages (i.e. Japanese album, Mandarin album, Korean album). There is Version A, which usually contains the usual number of songs and a photo book; Version B, which includes a photo book (more pages) and extra tracks; and lastly, Version C, which has a photo book (more numerous pages), more songs, and videos.
♤ Gentlemen's Game - 2016
- Limited edition.
- Chansung photobook cover/poster.
- Chansung photocard. pic.twitter.com/su1pLXy30f
— sara. (@_solarist) November 15, 2016
The cost of a Korean album if bought in Korea can go up to 15,000 Korean won, which is roughly up to $13 dollars, as taken from Soompi. Shipping fees should also be considered as most albums are imported by international fans because locally bought albums contribute to album charts and sales.
Concerts and Fan Events
KPOP companies and labels earn the most from concerts and tours where they are able to sell not only tickets but official merchandise too. Examples of merchandise are light sticks, banners, and concert tee shirts.
Concerts held in Japan or in South Korea are also cheaper than those outside the country. For the former, it ranges from $80 to $100 dollars, and it only goes higher for the latter as discussed in One Hallyu.
Of course, some fans who can afford it would travel to Korea and attend concerts there. Otherwise, those who cannot have to settle with waiting for their idols to go abroad.
Added expenses are a fan's contribution to projects by the official fan club of the country where the concert is being held. Usually, food packages are given.
Official Fan Merchandise
Entertainment companies in the KPOP industry also sell official merchandise like key chains, light sticks, shirts, calendars, photo books, and stuffed toys. Some are usually exclusively sold during concerts and as such are expensive.
Others are fan made and these are being sold by people who have made the fandom life a full-time career. It usually involves representatives of fan sites going from one event to another, following KPOP idols, taking pictures, and then selling the photos in the form of a photo book.
[LIMITED PO] 2PM Taecyeon OKCAT 2016 Official Desk Calendar @ IDR 235,000 pic.twitter.com/Sdg7rHhzsp — LeeKpopGoods (@LeeKpopGoods) January 17, 2016
Whatever free time a fan has, it is usually spent on social media sites where they interact with other fans and with their idols. They also visit video sharing sites in order to watch fan taken videos from fan meets and concerts.
Furthermore, there are fans who would manage official fan clubs for their countries and organize projects such as sending rice wreaths as gifts as a symbol of support of their idols. KPOP conventions are also held in some places and it is there where fan clubs gather and fan goods are sold.
In summary, the KPOP industry is a rich and profitable industry especially for producing companies and small fan entrepreneurs. They take much of one's time, money, as well as creativity, but for many, it is all worth it.