It’s fun to have a collection of things you really love. Some people collect bags, shoes, caps, dresses or cosmetics. Some hoard stickers, toys, action figures, stuffed toys or refrigerator magnets. Whatever it is that you like, you may buy them in all their types, versions and editions and treat them as your collection.
K-pop fangirling and fanboying is not exempted from such an interest or hobby of collecting items. While there are fans who are satisfied with collecting memories, some fans want tangible objects too. Many of these fans are actually not just buyers but collectors. This is usually where the “expensive” part of being a K-pop fan comes to the picture. Especially for collectors of K-pop photocards, this is very true and relatable.
K-pop artists, through their own celebrity management company, officially release merchandise and albums. Although it’s not a requirement to purchase them to call yourself a true fan, many K-pop fans really love buying and collecting them. Specifically, the items that most K-pop fans collect are official K-pop photocards, as mentioned earlier.
Before proceeding to the main discussion of this piece, first, what are K-pop photocards? They are literally cards with photos of K-pop idols, most often in portrait orientation. One card contains a selca (or selfie) of one K-pop artist. Sometimes, it could be a pair or group of artists. They can be gotten when you buy a sealed album or can be bought individually from unofficial sellers. These are official photocards directly from the Korean celebrity management company and not merely printed by a fan or a seller.
K-Pop Photocard Collectors
Now, if you’re not a K-pop fan (or even if you are), you will be really surprised at the number of fans that are K-pop photocard collectors who really spend so much money for these “papers” as many say. Even collectors themselves call these items as such, so most of them are not offended by the term – probably because they are aware that it’s true except for the fact that they are special papers. Nonetheless, for real, K-pop photocards are stars in the K-pop market, particularly for collectors.
Some fans are more than willing to buy K-pop photocards that cost higher than bigger album inclusions, than other merch and than the whole album itself. Some work hard to find rare photocards, so when they find them, they don’t think twice anymore about buying them. These just prove how K-pop photocards are loved by so many fans and are so valuable in the market.
But not everyone (not even some of those who are already K-pop fans) knows why such hoarding and collecting exists. It’s unbelievable for many, right? Well, let the list below feed your curiosity or at least convince you of your assumptions! Here are the 8 realest reasons why many K-pop fans collect official K-pop photocards!
1 – Exclusive photos unreleased online and anywhere else are found in K-pop photocards.
Every update from K-pop idols is important for fans, especially if they contain photos or selfies. No doubt, when a certain artist uploads one selca, that picture will immediately spread because fans are quick to tap hearts, write comments, screenshot and save their faves’ updates.
While K-pop photocards contain selfies as well, like the ones artists typically post on their social media accounts, the difference is that these selfies are exclusive. These are unreleased pictures – never posted online and anywhere else. They will never be released there either. That means you can only get a copy of that picture if you have the specific photocards that contain it.
This is what makes K-pop photocards extra special! It’s what makes collectors feel proud of themselves and “honored” to own such a fan privilege of scoring them.
2 – Collecting is challenging yet fulfilling.
Some collectors find this quest a challenging one, and this is what makes them interested and hooked to it. Well, in the very first place, it really is a tough job – first, because K-pop photocards are mostly expensive, and second, because you have to look for each piece, including the rare gems!
It’s hard too when other people can’t understand why you collect these “papers”, but many fans still collect. Probably, the thrilling and testing search for K-pop photocards is what many love. And of course, there’s also a feeling of fulfillment once you see your collection completed by your own efforts!
3 – It’s stress-relieving.
Although collecting is challenging, most fans consider it stress-relieving. The challenge portion is like a choice, so it doesn’t completely and negatively stress you out if you’re a collector.
Collectors just feel ecstatic to see so many tangible selfies of their biases and favorite K-pop idols! K-pop photocards bring happiness and comfort to them.
Once you look at your collection properly stored in your binder, you feel delighted by such a cool fan achievement.
4 – Decorating toploaders is fun.
Part of the latest trend among K-pop fans, particularly among photocard collectors, is decorating toploaders. What are they? In K-pop, toploaders are the clear cases where you can place photocards. One toploader can hold one photocard. They look like ID card holders.
Some fans prefer using plain card sleeves and binders, but nowadays, toploaders have become the talk of the town because many love decorating them. It’s quite simple. You just have to place the photocard inside the toploader, then creatively design the external portion of the case. Customize it all you want, using cute beads, stickers, washi tapes and more. Often, fans use different shades of one color for one toploader. Nonetheless, it’s your call!
This is another reason why many are magnetized to collecting K-pop photocards.
5 – They just want their bias’ photocards.
Non K-pop fans, new fans and fans who don’t spend anything on K-pop may not know this, but when you buy an album, you will get at least one photocard from it. Unless your fave is a solo artist, you may get a selfie of someone who is not your topmost favorite. In short, if you buy an album of a K-pop group, you will get one random selfie, which equates to one random member also.
Some fans collect K-pop photocards because they just want their bias’ photocards. Typically, they trade with other fans or collectors. For example, you find a fellow fan online who has your bias’ photocard, and she also wants to trade for her bias’ photocard, which you have. You can contact her to trade and transact. On the other hand, you can also post yours on online marketplaces, K-pop buy and sell groups, or just on your social media account. Let people know that you’re willing to trade photocards.
There are collectors who gather photocards of all members of the group they stan, but most collect just one member or some but not all.
6 – They don’t want the whole album, merch or purchase.
As mentioned earlier, the standard way to acquire K-pop photocards is to buy an album. Some celebrity management companies give away K-pop photocards together with their artists’ lightsticks or special merch too. Also, there are times when photocards are given as presents by brands endorsed by K-pop idols, when fans buy their products. In short, you have to buy a certain official item in order to obtain these selfies.
Some collectors don’t want the whole album, merch or purchase, or they are not fond of them. They want K-pop photocards only, and that’s why they collect them.
7 – It’s one of the ways they show their love for their K-pop faves.
What better reason is there than love? These collectors love their K-pop idols a lot, so they do all they can do to collect their photocards. But then again, this doesn’t mean that not buying means not loving them. You can still be a loving fan even without possessing these items. It’s just one of the reasons why some fans collect them astoundingly! It’s one of the ways they show their love for their K-pop faves.
THE FANDOM OF K-POP PHOTOCARDS
Just a friendly tip if you’re a collector: Always be wise and careful whenever you’re buying photocards per piece. Check whether or not they are overpriced because some of them really are. Although you love these tokens, please remain mindful of your transactions and spendings. Furthermore, it’s fine to collect them as long as you don’t go beyond your wallet’s ability, beyond your more important priorities and beyond your safety.
On the other hand, if you’re a non collector, hopefully, you have realized the reasons why many K-pop fans are into these photocards and avoid misjudging them because of their buying decisions. Nonetheless, if you see or know someone among them who’s overspending or irresponsibly collecting, don’t hesitate to tap their backs and remind them.
Lastly, if you’re a K-pop fan but can’t afford merch, albums and these photocards, don’t be sad. It’s fine because owning these things is not the basis to be called a fan. In the future, when you acquire a job or have extra money, then you can buy yours too. For now, be happy and inspired by others’ stress-relieving collections.
For sure, you have been enlightened about how and why K-pop photocards are many fangirls’ and fanboys’ most admired collections. While every collector definitely has a unique reason, what’s certain is that someone out there has the same motives as him/her. This displays how the world of K-pop is composed not only of music and dance but also of the culture of fans, which include their love for the items that their faves produce or promote. Truly, you can say that the fandom of K-pop photocards is big and strong!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Nicole Ann Pore is a writer, an events host and a voice over artist. Quality and well-researched writing is her worthwhile avenue to enlighten and delight others about things that matter. She is a daytime writer for The Fordham Company, one of Australia’s leading celebrity talent management agencies located in Sydney. Nicole graduated Cum Laude from De La Salle University Manila, Philippines with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts.