K-Pop concert merchandise prices are skyrocketing, and fans are finding it difficult to afford the latest gear.
Passionate fans consider it official to buy the latest cheering items after booking tickets for idol group concerts after fierce competition. In fact, last September, the official website of idol group ‘fromis_9’ sold out of the available stock of cheering items within 10 minutes of starting sales.
When the competition is intense, the cost rises. On online secondhand markets, cheering items of the idol group ‘MONSTA X’, which has a retail price of KRW 35,000 (about USD 30), were sold for about KRW 100,000 (about USD 85) as concerts approached.
Even renting the cheering items is not cheap. Miss Lee (18), who rented a cheering item for KRW 30,000 (about USD 25) on an online secondhand market for an ‘NCT Dream’ concert last September, said, “I needed a cheering item to properly enjoy the concert. But to buy it with an additional cost, it cost KRW 80,000 (about USD 68).” He added, “I thought the price for a day of rental was excessive, but I rented it anyway.”
There are also fans who feel excluded because they couldn’t buy or rent the latest cheering items. Miss Cha (27), a graduate student, said, “I brought an old cheering item, but only my cheering item didn’t work remotely. I felt excluded.” Miss Choi (25), an office worker, also said, “I failed to buy a cheering item at the retail price and brought a fluorescent stick sold at Daiso. I was conscious of the surrounding gazes.”
Recently, the idol group ‘New Jeans’ released cheering items including decorations for KRW 60,000 (about USD 50), which also caused fans to complain. A tweet stating, “Can this price be justified if members do not give it together?” gained 410,000 views among fans.
Most planning agencies do not explain why cheering item prices are rising. Some planning agencies such as HYBE and JYP only announce that they will raise the prices of cheering items due to the rise in raw material prices, including semiconductors, through their official websites. This leads fans to buy the cheering items while feeling frustrated.
Experts are concerned that continually raising the prices of goods, such as cheering items, could have a negative impact on the K-pop image. Ha Jae-geun, a popular culture critic, said, “Cheering items give a sense of belonging and simultaneously create a performance atmosphere. However, excessive price increases could create a negative image of K-pop.”