It’s December aka the month of shopping and as you are going through your Christmas shopping list, have you considered purchasing K-pop merchandise for your friends? Surprisingly there are a lot of K-pop merchandise being sold, so we asked our team, do you own any K-pop products and how important is it that you own it?

Subi: I have posters of every group, from SHINee, to Big Bang, to Kara, to Epik High, to Boys Before Flowers, to 2PM, and to, obviously DBSK. But I also have a lot of DBSK merchandise. I have notebooks, keychains, calendars, dvds, CDs, fans, etc. etc. I’m not a collecting fiend so it’s not SUPER important for me to have every product that DBSK and more so than the major things (like CDs and DVDs), I appreciate a bunch of small things. It’s completely ridiculous and believe me, everyone laughs and giggles when they walk over to my desk and there’s a calendar filled with Asian men but it’s a nice when you can go through your day and they’re there to greet you and different points throughout the day.

Jessie: I just have CDs because I tell myself I’m too old to put posters of boy bands on my walls now – oh to be a teenager again! However, I do have a random Jo-kwon key chain that I picked up at a Korean grocery store in Chicago. I mostly bought it because it was the first time I’d ever seen k-pop merchandise in real life and I spazzed out a bit. I was in a WGM phase at the time, hence my selection. And I do carry the Yunho collector card that came with my Keep Your Head Down CD in my wallet, but that is supposed to be a secret…

Young-Ji: There’s a Yunho card collector? Like Pokemon?

Jessie: HAHA, that would be awesome if it was, it is basically just a wallet sized photo that came with the CD. They were random ones so thank goodness Yesasia knows my bias.

Young-Ji: How about if we come up with Pokemon 2.0 but with K-pop stars? We can create a deck of cards with the idol faces with their strengths and weaknesses and then there’s a battle — whether it be to dance like a drag, pretend you know how to sing, their sel-cas skills, etc etc and then you duke it out.

Jessie: Yunho uses “Thumbs Up!” IT IS SUPER EFFECTIVE!!! God I love Pokemon.

Madina: If I give any K-pop stuff as a gift my husband would probably file for divorce on the grounds of insanity. His reaction to my showing him an SNSD picture was: “They all need a sandwich.”

Fannie: Surprisingly, I don’t own any K-pop merchandise, but there are two things I’ve always coveted.
The first is one of those Big Bang light sticks with the crown on top. They’re so cool-looking, especially in audience shots… definitely my favorite item out of all the official fan gear in the K-pop-dom. Although I don’t classify myself as a V.I.P. (I don’t classify myself as an official member of any fandom), going to a YG concert at least once in my lifetime and waving one of those light sticks around is pretty much the one concrete goal that I have set in stone to eventually accomplish in K-pop.

The second thing I’ve always secretly wanted was a pair (or multiple pairs) of those socks with the cute chibi versions of our favorite idols on them. Yup. You guys know what I’m talking about.

Subi: Why haven’t you ever bought anything, Fannie? Didn’t think it was worth it?

Fannie: Part of it is that I don’t really feel the need to have shiny physical copies of their pictures when I can just access them from my computer. The other part of it is — I’m actually one of those closet K-pop fans in real life. I’m not ashamed of liking K-pop itself, but there are so many embarrassing fans that have already given us a bad name and created a negative stereotype for themselves that it makes me not want to be identified with K-pop in public (unless I’m around other K-pop fans, which I’m usually not).

Does that make me a bad fan? I’ve always kind of wondered that. I acted the same back in the day when I was super into anime and J-pop, I didn’t want to be associated with the negative otaku fan stereotype, so I tended to minimize physical evidence of my infatuation. The contents of my computer, however are a completely different story.

Megan: The only thing that I actually own is a SHINee album, given to me as a present from a friend, if that counts. It always feels kind of slimy to me to be considering buying the merchandise at all. I know, I know, it’s what keeps the groups afloat, but I feel like some kind of sucker considering buying things, just because it has a pretty man’s face on it.

Some person up the corporate ladder designed that cheesy product with my bias’ face on it just because they knew I would be tempted to fork over the cash, and it makes me feel weirdly triumphant when I don’t fall for it. Yeah, that’s pretty pathetic reasoning, but it’s the truth. I do make a point of downloading songs, though. It doesn’t send a whole lot of money their way, but at least it’s something that goes to the artist/company without too many middlemen, other than the downloading service itself.

Natalie: I don’t own any K-pop merchandise. The only K-pop thing I’ve ever bought was SNSD’s Run Devil Run app thing off iTunes, simply so I can watch their music videos without having to download them illegally off line somewhere.

Maddie: I also download songs off iTunes but I haven’t bought any K-pop merchandise yet. But if I found chibi socks I would definitely buy them. And I would love to know where you got this calendar filled with Asian men, Subi?

The idea of idol version Pokemon cards just made me think of those cards that come with Chocolate Frogs in HP. I think that would be funny and a great marketing idea. Huge binders filled with idol cards held safely in their tiny plastic sleeves. Holographic cards of CL and rare cards of DBSK before they split. What I’d really like to see is idols duke it out in real life. Like a reality/variety show or something. Random matches like Jia Vs Taeyang in a dance battle.

Jessie: Like that one Celebrity Boxing show that was on Fox years ago!!

Young-Ji: Are you ladies telling me that you never bought stickers of your favorite idol or waited until the CD gets released so you can see more of the hidden pictures?

I’m really embarrassed to admit this but I did have my share of H.O.T stickers, notebooks and fans. But stationary is where my H.O.T obsession ended. Thank God!

Amy: “Holographic cards of CL and rare cards of DBSK before they split.” LOL. But we all know that die-hard DBSK fangirls would buy boxes of idol cards just to complete the set.

I don’t think I ever got crazy with the merch. The only people I got merch for was DBSK and the extent of it was concerts and DVD boxsets, which I think are worthy of owning on their own right. I’ve since sold all my merchandise but I still have my concerts and my ‘All About DBSK’ boxsets. Those are gems!

Gil: I feel like a bad K-pop fan but I like Fannie do not buy any K-pop merchandise:

1. Because I live in the Midwest and K-pop merchandising just doesn’t happen
2. I’m too lazy and too cheap to buy stuff.

Even though I love DBSK and Changmin (ultimate K-pop bias) I really wouldn’t want his face staring at me while I sleep. Even if it is sexy and age-defying. I mean the closest thing to fan merchandising I buy is various band tees (like Dropkick Murphys or Disturbed for example) I never identify myself with fandoms so I never really feel guilty about not buying merchandise. I am totally digging the Kpokemon idea. I can imagine just fangirls on the playground going “Jo-kwon kkab!” ha, that would be freaking hilarious.

Ree: I honestly do not own much. Except for albums. I will buy albums if I think they’re REALLY good. So far I have Mirotic version C, Sorry Sorry version C, VVIP, Remember, The Secret Code, and T. I also have the DBSK T tour DVD. But I tend to shy away from buying things because it’s so darn expensive, especially since I have to go all the way to Chinatown in the city and I buy everything from an Asian DVD store there. And they’re expensive as hell.

Wait, I also have a poster of Junsu from his musical Tears Of Heaven which I got from my friend. It has a permanent spot under my bed.

And the tap app is amazing. I wish it was out on Android too! I got a high score on Superman :D

Jessie: I really wish I would have upgraded my Jo-kwon key chain with the Changmin (TVXQ) one I saw in LA’s Koreatown last weekend. Essentially, if I could go to the store and buy it, I’d probably have more, but I’m not going to go out of my way to buy stuff on the internet (aside from Japanese CDs that aren’t released on iTunes).

Alyssa: I don’t buy much K-pop merchandise, and I don’t ask for any either. Merchandise is hard to find and expensive to buy online. Also, it’s kind of hard to explain having posters of boys who are years younger than me. I do like going to concerts though! A couple of years (or more) ago I went to see the Wonder Girls tour, featuring 2PM. I paid $150 for the VIP tickets and got to “meet” them in person. My most prized possessions are my picture with them and the memory of hugging Taec (swoon)!!!

Johnelle: I buy the CDs for all my favorite groups. I have most of BIG BANG, C.N. Blue, and INFINITE, some of the SS501, and most of the SS501 individual member’s solo CDs. The packaging of these CDs are always great with lots of pics. I also have the OSTs of my fave K-dramas, the DVD sets of Boys Over Flowers and You’re Beautiful, and I couldn’t help myself and bought the Pig-Rabbit, but not the $75 hair clip which was ridiculous.

And maybe I have a calendar of Kim Hyun-joong on my desk, but it was a gift. I also maybe have indulged in the complete sets of Big Bang and DBSK (ot5) K-pop socks. I have two sets of the Big Bang socks- one that I wear and the other I don’t. The good ones are soo cute and they’re embroidered not just printed on. If you know someone that goes to South Korea and can get them for you–they’re only like 1,000 won a pair which is way worth it.

Young-Ji: What’s up with this K-pop stars and socks?!? What’s so great about them. Do you like the feeling of stepping on them when you walk?

Amy: Once your wear shoes over, you don’t even get to see your idols!

Johnelle: Of course you’re not stepping on them- they’re on the top of the socks, smiling up at you. I also think they’re more so for wearing around the house so you’re not covering them up with your shoes. Unless you just wanna be a covert fan and wear them with your shoes.

Madina: It’s kinda gross. What’s next – idol pictures on tampons?

Gil: That would be so wrong on so many levels but the crazy hardcore fans would all be “OPPPAAAAA”

See what will happen to me is I wear the sock. Then put my shoes on and go about my day, go to school, extra curricular activities, world domination, what not. I come home take my shoes off and BAM there’s a face on my feet. I will be so thrown off and freaked out each time. Not only that but in Indian culture we don’t like step on people, not even books its a sign of disrespect so that also would deter me from having DBSK on my feet.

Fannie: They’re like a secret of awesomeness in your shoes! You carry your idol around with you all day, and once you get home, their smiling faces are the first thing you get to see when you take off your shoes.

Yup, not creepy.

Jessie: Do you think people ever mix and match the socks, like these are my OTP pair?  Or how about GD&Top sub-unit socks?

Megan: I saw Yoochun socks at the mall today. I thought of you guys.  And don’t lie to yourselves, idol tampons would totally sell. Hell, if girls can send period blood letters without shame, it’s no small jump to assume that they’d be totally cool with feminine hygiene products with their bias’ face.

Madina: No, I think I’m on to something here. That’s actually going to make some money – imagine SuJu’s mugshots on tampons – I’ll make millions!

Gil: That made me think, how else can the K-pop industry manipulate a fans’s love for their favorite idols?

  • The K-pop/Pokemon fusion we just discussed
  • Feminine Hygiene products
  • Clothing apparel, omo lingerie?!?!?!?
  • Diapers, now your baby can have your bias’ face on his or her ass. How else can you show your love?

Madina: Imagine all the creative ads:  “Get REALLY intimate with all of Big Bang.”