gifts they might actually want

The Best Gifts for K-Pop Superfans, According to K-Pop Superfans

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

Aside from occasionally mobilizing against political figures, K-pop fans are perhaps best known for their extreme devotion to their group of choice. While you might think that would make it simple to pick out a gift for a superfan, finding the right one, especially if you are not familiar with the ins and outs of their favorite group, can prove trickier than it seems. To find out what sorts of things K-pop fans might really want to unwrap, we asked a bunch of them about the types of gifts they think will delight people like themselves. You’ll find some picks here that cater to obsessive followers of specific groups like BTS and Blackpink. But there are also safer bets if you don’t know what your K-pop fan’s niche allegiances are. From official merch to DIY craft ideas to CD players made for listening to K-pop albums, any of the recommendations below are sure to be a hit with the superfan in your life.

A note: With the pandemic’s ongoing stress on shipping and delivery systems, know that the items from smaller, overseas retailers on this list will take longer to arrive than usual. If you’re pressed for time, bigger-box retailers — which have been keeping up with rising demand for K-pop merchandise — may be the way to go. On the other hand, if anyone’s used to waiting a long time for merch to ship, it’s stateside K-pop fans. So even if you can just provide them with a tracking number for their gift, it will likely be much appreciated.

The best Christmas gift for K-pop fans is an appropriately named Season’s Greetings kit. Korean cultural researcher Dr. Areum Jeong explains that these are released by individual K-pop stars every December, and usually contain “a calendar, a monthly or weekly journal, and some products that help you get ready for the new year.” The calendar and journal will include photos of a particular artist and reminders about when their birthday is. “It’s a great way to look forward to the new year with your favorite idol,” Jeong explains. While these kits regularly sell out immediately, we found some that have a second drop of products shipping in late December.


For a cheap and cheerful K-pop Christmas gift that will ship immediately, Emily Mallon and Charity Worrell, the hosts of weekly podcast New York City K-pop Queens, love this BTS UNO deck. “We both own it, and it’s the perfect stocking stuffer,” they tell us.

Three of the folks we spoke to say that one of these light sticks would be a great gift for any fan that does not have one or collects them. As K-pop fan Rov R. explains, “A light stick is something unique to K-pop and each group has its distinct style.” Jini R. adds that fans like herself love light sticks because they “show your full support toward the group.” Typically used at concerts or other live performances, this year has seen more fans “cheer for their group with their light stick through a screen, too,” explains Aamina M. She warns that light sticks sold by groups’ official merch stores often sell out quickly, but other fans told us you can find them at retailers like Cokodive, K-Pop Town, Ktown4U, and even Amazon.

While you might not be shocked to hear that albums came recommended as another thoughtful gift, you may be surprised by the reason why: “K-pop albums are a little different,” explains Nikki B., “as they often include extra goodies in addition to the CD, like photo books, photo cards, posters, and stickers, making them the perfect all-in-one gift.” Three other fans agree, including Kate L., who says “gifting albums is a great and simple way to make a fan’s day and support the group at the same time, because you’re buying their products.” Gifting an album might require you to do some snooping to find out which ones your recipient may not yet own; however, if you know they have not bought any new albums this year, you’d likely be safe with one of these three, as they are each band’s latest release. “If you know your friend’s favorite group and they just had a comeback, surprising them with their latest album never fails,” says Mars, co-host of the podcast 106 & Seoul.

Another surprising fact we heard about K-pop albums: While fans collect them, it’s not always so they can play the CD inside, according to Rov R., who told us “the CDs can end up collecting dust in their cases.” Giving this gadget would encourage your recipient to actually listen to their CDs, she says. “It’s designed especially for K-pop albums, so you can both play and display the CD in your room in an aesthetically pleasing way.” She loves how it “can be hung on a wall or placed on a desk or nightstand,” telling us that, either way, it won’t take up much space.

Evie W. pointed us to this more affordable CD player as another one she thinks K-pop fans like herself would enjoy. It, too, can be mounted to a wall or set on a flat surface, and this also has a cover that shows off whatever CD is inside. “It’s relatively small, looks nice, and can work as décor as well,” Evie says. What’s more, this can also function as a DVD player because it has a port for a cable you can use to connect it to a TV or projector.

If your K-pop fan buys CDs, chances are they’re also collecting vinyl. “You might think that an LP turntable is the furthest thing from K-pop, but many superfans already own one or more limited-edition records,” says Korean cultural researcher Areum Jeong. We rated this fairly inexpensive model from Audio-Technica as our best “entry-level serious turntable,” and more than 70 five-star Amazon reviewers tend to agree. If you’re looking for something to spin on there, Jeong suggests this limited-edition import from Red Velvet breakout Wendy.

This clear iPhone case also came recommended by Evie W., who told us a lot of K-pop fans like to display the photo cards of their “bias” — or favorite group member — on the back of their phones. “Some people get fancy and decorate them with stickers,” she adds.

Speaking of photo cards, an album is just one place where you can get them. If you’d simply like to supplement your recipients’ photo-card collection, Evie W. told us that “you can usually find large quantities of photo cards for any group on Amazon,” like this set of NCT cards that she directed us to.

Because purchasing endless sets of cards would be outrageously expensive, trading is a popular pastime among K-pop fans. “Trading not only gets you the card you want without lurking on the resale market, but it’s also a way to connect with other fans around the globe,” explains culture writer Crystal Bell. If you know a burgeoning collector, they should make sure they’re safeguarding their cards in toploaders before mailing them: “This will ensure that the card isn’t damaged en route.”

A clear plastic toploader is a little pedestrian for the average K-pop fan, though. “If you really want to make a good impression,” says Bell, “add some decorative washi tape to seal the toploader and write a personalized note on colorful stationery.” Jeong agrees: “All the cool kids are making their own photo-card toploaders.” If you’re not comfortable decorating a toploader yourself, she thinks that a DIY kit of colorful stickers, plus some tweezers to apply them, would make for a creative and much-appreciated gift.

Bell says printing your own cards is a great solution for K-pop fans who just want to stay close to their bias without becoming serious collectors. “You get the photo you want for a fraction of the cost of buying multiple albums,” she says. “Plus, who doesn’t want to carry a Polaroid of their bias in their phone case?”

If your K-pop fan is always on the watch for new artists, impress them by ordering merch from Aespa, whose song “Next Level” put them on the map in 2021. “In our opinion, Aespa is the next big girl group in K-pop,” Mallon and Worrell say. “This crop top is so cute and comes with a photocard.”

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“Any K-pop fan will explode with happiness when they open this, as it’s the exact hoodie that has been worn by many famous K-pop stars,” says Jini R., who told us it has been worn by Got7’s Mark, BTS’s Jungkook, and BTOB’s Ilhoon, to name three.

For a more discreet merch option, Bell recommends purchasing a couple of enamel pins as a cute gift. For K-pop fans, she says, these pins are “casual cosplay — if you know, you know.” Available in an endless array of designs, some referencing specific artists and others more general K-pop memes, enamel pins can be worn in any context: “A pin of your bias goes with everything.”

Concert tickets, say Mallon and Worrell, “are the ultimate gift” for K-pop fans. They’re excited to see Monsta X at Radio City Music Hall in January, and also note that artists like Epik High and Eric Nam have North American tours scheduled for 2022. Fair warning: BTS tickets will be tricky to snag. But if you’re able to somehow gift these high-value items, they assure us that “the recipient will be forever grateful.”

If your K-pop fan already has their concert tickets lined up, Mallon and Worrell recommend buying them a clear, venue-approved bag to take to the show and cruise through stadium security with. This bestselling bag “is affordable, stylish, and the perfect size for concert essentials,” they say.

If you can’t get your hands on concert tickets, Mars says the next best thing is a concert DVD — it’s definitely the gift they’d want someone to buy them. The safest bets, if you’re unsure about which artists to support: “Any BTS concert DVD, Twice’s last concert DVD, and any SHINee DVD is worth the money.”

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The Best Gifts for K-Pop Fans, According to K-Pop Superfans