Every K-Pop fan must have already dreamed of visiting South Korea, a place where you can find all K-Pop albums and goods of your favorite idols, who wouldn’t want that? I know the struggle it can be being a K-Pop fan living outside Korea. Depending on which country you live in, you might have to buy their merchandise online, which means a long wait for it to be delivered and expensive shipping fees. That’s why we all want to (and should!) enjoy the most when we finally get a chance to visit Korea.
Where to get K-Pop albums?
The most common destination is Seoul, where you can find plenty of options for K-Pop fans. Where to go depends on how much you are willing to spend. Let’s take a look at spots that you definitely won’t want to miss!
Myeongdong Underground Shopping
One of the best places to find K-Pop goods is inside Myeongdong subway station. The place has some stores with all the items you could want, like keyrings, socks, albums, lightsticks and many others. These stores are located in Myeongdong subway station (Line 4), in the area near exit 2.
Another option for buying K-Pop albums are bookstores like Kyobo Book Centre (교보문고), Youngpoong Bookstore/YP Books (영풍문고) and Aladin Store (알라딘중고서점). Among these three franchises, I would like to personally recommend this last one, especially for those who are looking for more affordable prices.
These franchises have branches in Seoul and some other cities. You can search them on apps like Naver or Kakao Maps to find out which stores are closer to you or, if you prefer, here are the main branches in Seoul.
Aladin Store for cheaper K-Pop albums
This is a second-hand bookstore, which is perfect if you want to save some money while buying your albums. There you can find the session of new albums (‘새상품’), and two sessions of used albums (‘고객이 방금 팔고 간 음반’ and ‘비규격 음반’).
The used albums have a considerably cheaper price (normally around half of the original price), but you have to pay attention to the tag on the back of it. There you can see the original price on top, the discount price below and sometimes it will be written if it comes with photocard (포토카드 있음) or without it (포토카드 없음).
Also, some of these have their photocards visible, so you can check if it’s one you like before buying! And don’t worry, by used album I mean albums as good as new, except that someone bought and sold them back to the store!
But you must wonder why would someone sell the album back? That’s because there are K-Pop fans that buy enormous quantities of albums (it’s hard to imagine, but some of them buy even thousands!!!) in order to have more chances to participate in fansign events and, after these events, they sell them back to stores or to other fans.
So here is a secret tip that can make you get some extra albums, and this time it’s for free!
There is this region of Seoul called Hongdae that gets full of life mainly at night, with various cultural events and live performances, and it has a huge concentration of people in their 20s and 30s. One famous thing about it is the busking area, where artists do amazing singing and dancing performances (most of the times K-Pop songs) that can get the attention of everyone around, including many K-Pop fans.
Remember the K-Pop fans that buy a lot of albums that I mentioned before? As a way to ‘get rid’ of the tons of albums they won’t need anymore, besides selling it back, some of them take albums and posters to the busking area and just give it away for free!! I got all the three versions of Ateez’s ‘Zero: Fever Part. 1’ album and also some posters like this! This doesn’t happen very often, so it depends on your luck, but it’s a good bet going there sometimes!
Still around Hongdae, I already found bags full of brand new albums on the sidewalk, ready to be thrown away, which was probably from another one of these fans. This seems to happen some days after K-Pop comebacks, when they buy many new albums and then throw it away.
The closest subway station to this area is Hongik University Station (Line 2). If you go out through exit 9 and turn left, you’ll get to the main shopping and busking street.
So these are my recommendations of best places to find K-Pop albums in Korea. There are places with a good range of prices: the usual price like in Myeongdong and general bookstores; half of the original price in the second-hand Aladin bookstore; and even free album being distributed around Hongdae. Hope it can help you!!