Let’s face it: some things are not worth the money. Have you ever seen a tweet or a post talking about new merchandise coming out for a group and thought “Are you kidding me? You want me to spend money on that?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve glanced around my room and wondered why I bought something or mourned the loss of the money I spent on an K-pop item I never use (or even look at). So before you go making the same mistakes I did, here is my list of K-pop merch that is worth your money and merch that isn’t!
1. Physical Album
This is an easy one. Buying the physical album gives you this wonderful little feeling in your chest that you’re supporting your group. It also allows you to have a physical reminder of this particular moment in time when this album came out. It also comes with an assortment of goods such as a poster and a photocard in addition to all the album’s tracks and a photobook, so you are getting quite a few pieces of merch in one.
2. K-Pop Apparel
Some people may disagree with me on this one, but I just think this one is practical. If you love a particular member or you think a group’s t-shirt or sweater is cute, you can purchase it and wear it to show your support. The only thing to keep in mind is to make sure that the number of times you wear it outnumbers the cost of the item. For instance, if you want to buy an official sweatshirt that costs $60, you better make sure that you have plenty of opportunity to wear it whereas an unofficial, generic Amazon t-shirt that cost $15 may get a little less wear but still be worth the cost.
3. Fan Artist / Fan Site Merch
This is a personal opinion, but fan artists and fan sites (the good ones who don’t stalk) work so hard to make incredible content and some of them even go through the trouble of supporting the groups that you care about or charities that are close to their hearts. PLUS! The stuff they make is beautiful and usually more reasonably priced than the licensed stuff so it is definitely worth it.
Posters come with albums if you buy the album during its first press. If not, think really hard–is it worth paying an inflated price for a piece of paper that will, at best, live on your wall for two to three years? K-pop comebacks are frequent and groups debut all the time. And your tastes change and you may move and you only have so much wall space to devote to posters. So at the end of the day, just save your money for something more permanent and useful.
Similar argument to the posters–you get photocards for free with the purchase of an album and you only have so much room to display a photocard. I get that photocards are more personal and that people like to keep particular photocards because they love the comeback but I just don’t think it’s worth the effort and money to buy a photocard when you could just as easily trade one of the ones you don’t like so much and save your money.
3. Seasonal DVDs (Seasons’ Greetings, Summer Packages, etc.)
Okay, I am guilty of falling victim to this. However, as I’ve gotten older (and gotten married), I’ve found that I don’t want to drop upwards of $50 on a DVD that I can watch on Dailymotion, a photobook that I can see scans of on Tumblr, and little odds and ends that I probably won’t use. Yes, sometimes the cuteness factor gets me, but ultimately I can live without that planner or calendar or beach ball (my BTS one is still uninflated and sitting in the box).
Ultimately, it’s your money and you can spend it however you want, but as someone who has four years worth of K-pop merch, I’ve learned a little bit about what I really cherish and what I could’ve done without. I hope some of this has helped you make your K-pop purchasing decisions. Let me know what you’ve learned from buying K-pop merch in the comments!