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As you might know, I love K-pop music and the band BTS in particular. Here are some things to consider if choosing a gift for the K-pop lover in your life (assuming they already have my K-pop Not So Confidential books).

  1. What is K-pop? K-pop is short for Korean Pop (likewise, J-pop is short for Japanese Pop). The music evolved from the careful study of boy and girl bands in the U.S. and Europe. As such, K-pop is often highly manufactured, with people chosen specifically for a certain look, voice, or talent. There are even training camps where pre-teens and teens pay to learn how to be an Idol (Idol is the general term for a musician). K-pop bands are differentiated by generations. For example, BTS and Blackpink are considered Gen 3 groups. SHINee is a Gen 2 group. And bands like Twice, Seventeen, TXT, and Enhypen are considered Gen 4 groups. The rule of thumb is that in 2020, if your members are teens, you are Gen 4. If your members are in their twenties, you are Gen 3.  K-pop is not specific to a certain genre and often combines elements of rap, hip-hop, and pop. In most groups, there is at least one rapper and each member has a specific role. 
  2. K-pop fans are identified by unique names: ARMY for BTS, Blinks for Blackpink, MOA for TXT, etc. K-pop culture fosters a belief that the idols and their fans have a close, immovable relationship. As such, fan wars are inevitable, and these fan wars can be extremely vicious, with fans of a particular group attacking idols of another group and spreading rumors or creating manipulated pictures. Just because someone is a lover of K-pop does not mean that the person loves every K-pop group out there.
  3. Who’s your bias?  True K-pop lovers often have a specific bias (favorite member), a bias wrecker (the one who “fights” to be your bias), or consider themselves OT (meaning they support or love all members). In choosing custom gifts, finding items featuring a person’s bias or bias wrecker is sure to please.
  4. Online concerts have become the norm during COVID. K-pop concerts are highly stylized, and offer a number of “add-ons.” Not everyone can afford them, however. Consider finding ways to help the K-pop lover in your life access the online content.
  5. Merchandise K-pop has created a whole marketplace focused on branded merchandise. This covers everything from branded versions of soda to exclusive merchandise. Photocards (PCs) are included in all of these and are highly sought after to complete collections. Some rare PCs can be found on eBay for thousands of dollars. Because there are limited first runs of some merchandise, and products can sell out within minutes, creating an account so that you can purchase exclusive content for the special K-pop lover in your life would be one way to win that person over.
  6. Exclusive Content BTS redefined the relationship between the artists and their fans by creating an impression of intimacy. Part of this relationship is extensive, often exclusive, content that often has a fee. Yes, money to access such content is every fan’s dream. This content usually requires memberships to the fan club. Some K-pop groups have tiered memberships that give exclusive merchandise that can be purchased as well.
  7. Light sticks are a must for serious stans (BTS has four generations of light sticks). These sticks are capable of being linked at concerts to change colors on demand. Authentic light sticks are expensive, so helping a friend purchase the most recent light stick would be a great gift.
  8. Fashion if you are willing to spend a lot of money, there are Twitter groups that post the fashions idols wear. Many fans would be happy to get their idol’s favorite Gucci sweater or shoes. (Or in BTS’ case, Louis Vuitton!)
  9. Korean cosmetics are also popular with K-pop fans. Check out the Skin Food, Mediheal, Aprilskin, and ETUDE online stores for ideas.
  10. More for BTS fans BT21’s cute line of plushies designed by the BTS members themselves are just one of the few things offered through the BT21 brand.