To help those that want to buy Kpop merchandise online, I wrote down my experiences with every Kpop online shop I ever used. I mostly bought JYJ and DBSK/TVXQ albums, DVDs, photobooks, etc., but each of these shops offers other popular Kpop bands such as EXO, Big Bang, Seventeen, 2ne1, INFINITE, etc. as well as rookies and more obscure groups.
After discovering you favorite Korean band a natural next step in any fan’s life is to ask “Where can I buy Kpop albums and stuff online?”
I listed every K-pop shop I ever used, roughly starting with the ones I ordered the most times from to fewest. Also, first come Korean sites where I get Korean versions of Kpop merch, and further down the Japanese ones with Japanese versions. Occasionally you can get Korean versions in Japan as well, but mostly it’s separate due to distribution rights even if it’s same band.
Since I live in Europe and have no offline Kpop shop around here the requirement for me is that any Kpop shop online I use has international shipping.
If you have further questions about any particular Kpop store please feel free to ask in the comments below. You DON’T need to write anything where it says “Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in,” anonymous comments are welcome too.
Kpop online store review:
Ktown4u is without a doubt the Kpop online shop which I use the most often. For one simple reason – they are the cheapest. I had some people online tell me it depends on where you ship to. I live in Europe. Of course I suggest that you check every kpop online store for every order you want to make and compare prices. I always do this and several times indeed the other shops I list bellow turn out to be cheaper. However, in great majority of cases ktown4u was the winner.
The first time I ordered from ktown4u was in May 25, 2014, just a few weeks before they moved to the new site they used today and changed their name from dvdheaven to ktown4u. I ordered more than 10 times from their new site so far. I never had any serious issues. Once they forgot to send me a reward I won, which was just some makeup testers so I wasn’t bothered by that and they apologized profusely.
They ship the order out within a day or two, unless it’s a pre-order of course. If you do place a pre-order you will receive an e-mail when the item gets shipped so you don’t have to keep logging in and checking if it has been shipped on their website.
As for their customer service I never had any complaints, but I did have inquires for them several times. Whenever I posted to ktown4u 1:1 service they replied within 2 – 3 days. Submitting questions to their Facebook page has been a hit and miss. Sometimes they would reply quickly sometimes not at all, so if you have any issues with ktown4u I suggest you use their 1:1 service on their official site.
Their discounts can get very significant. For example, I once bought JYJ official poster book for $0.94 when it costs more than $50.00 in other stores. Basically I got it for free and just paid for shipping! They always have some kind of events going on so make sure to check their social media:
Once I won their contest and as a reward got a box with a lot of TVXQ items.
Also, as you shop you get a few KRW bonus every time which you can later spend. Even though I’ve ordered more than 10 packages this never amounted to anything significant. The best way to save money on Ktown4u is to follow them to see any events immediately and sort by lowest price when searching. That way you will see discounted items first.
Ktown4u shipping review: There are 5 available shipping methods, from cheapest to most expensive: Non-Registered Small Packet(Air), Registered Small Packet(Air), Parcel POST(Air), EMS, EMS Premium(UPS). The speed with which they arrive is also in that order, with the exception of first and second method which are equal in speed, but first one doesn’t have tracking number while the second one (and all the others) does have tracking number. I usually order without tracking number to save money and package always arrived between 9 and 14 days after I ordered, every single time (I live in Europe).
They use padded envelops stuffed with bubble wrap for smaller packages, and cardboard boxes stuffed with bubble wrap for those that can’t fit in envelopes.
Also, sometimes the corners of the packaging they send can be a bit damaged but I take that as a reasonable risk when ordering a package from the other side of the world.
You can see both the box and the envelope in the JYJ haul video I’ve done from ktown4u as well as what kind of amazing discounts you can expect from them.
Ktown4u payment: In great majority of cases ktown4u has been the cheapest option for me, especially when looking at the total price of items and shipping. I used Paypal every time. They allow 3 days for you to pay before they cancel your order. I like this very much because during large discounts you can fight for your item before it gets sold out and worry about payment later.
Pros: Cheapest Kpop store in most of the cases, different shipping methods available, my favorite shop.
Cons: Naming can be inconsistent so you need to search for all versions of the name, for example Dong Bang Shin Ki, Tohoshinki, TVXQ… or Yuchun, Yoo Cheon, Yoochun… to make sure you found all the available items. Also sorting seems glitchy sometimes, if you sort from lowest to highest price you will still see newest items first no matter how expensive they are.
Gmarket review (for Kpop)
Gmarket is Korean online market similar to Ebay (and owned by the same company). The difference is that if you are ordering from outside of Korea sellers will first ship your items to Gmarket headquarters where they will be repacked and shipped overseas. I’ve ordered Kpop 5 times from Gmarket and never had any issues except one seller notifying me that their Sungkyunkwan Scandal item was out of stock.
The first item I bough from Gmarket was on Feb 12, 2014 “Daily Lives of Sungkyunkwan Scholars” book. To see what Gmarket packages look like, check out my Sea Fog unboxing. Gmarket sellers also sell used TVXQ (DBSK) merchandise that is not available for purchase any more. I’ve bought some of DBSK official photobooks all the way back from 2006 I think, and they were in pretty good condition. Used items are 50% of the price of the new one.
Gmarket discount: There are several ways to get discount on Gmarket. I don’t know if they will get this feature back but for the longest time the first thing that was available to you as you sign up is 50% discount for new members, with the caveat that the total amount you save can’t go over 10,000 KRW. You can also get monthly coupons, special even coupons, PayPal coupons etc. Once you order the package you will start accumulating so called Gstamps and Gmileage. Usually this will also allow you to get some small discount (a few percent).
Gmarket shipping: Only available shipping is EMS which is much quicker and more pricey than regular shipping methods. However, since Gmarket is a huge EMS user they have 15% discount compared to if someone else shipped the same package from Korea. EMS takes about 2 or 3 days from the time it leaves Korea to when it enters my country in Europe. Since it is an expensive shipping method custom’s workers love to stop the package and bother me to sell them proof of purchase and receipt despite Gmarket filling out proper EMS forms. This means package usually takes extra few days to arrive but this really depends just on the country you live in and the customs procedure.
Gmarket prices: Since there are many sellers competing prices are usually the lowest you will find. On top of this you can always use Gmarket discount coupons to get few extra dollars off. However, the high price of shipping due to only option being the EMS can offset this. I suggest you compare the prices with other Kpop shops and see for yourself. I always get the cheapest option and these five times, it was indeed Gmarket.
Pros: Sellers have older, new or used, TVXQ/DBSK items which are not available in other Kpop online stores. EMS shipping is the quickest and most secure.
Cons: Expensive EMS shipping is the only option. You also have to pay the shipping from the seller to Gmarket headquarters which is usually a bit less than $2. Even though most of the global site is in English you will have to deal with some Korean (if you scroll to the bottom of this post you will see I included table with some Korean terms you will need. Feel free to copy-paste them where you need them).
Kpoptown is Kpop online store which I ordered three times from.
The first time was in June 03, 2014. I ordered ELLE magazine with article about Yoochun back from 2012. No other Kpop store at that time had it in stock. Next package I ordered JYJ Collection Cards and made an unboxing video which won Kpoptown’s bst unboxing video award. I used the prize voucher to order and unbox Sungkyunkwan Scandal OST.
Kpoptown discount: You can usually see all available discounts in the sidebar. When you put item in the cart there will be a vouchers and offers right underneath your item list. You simply click on them and they will get applied if applicable. You also collect loyalty point with each point converting to about $0.20.
Kpoptown shipping: As you can see in the links above, Sungkyunkwan Scandal OST and Elle Magazine arrived in padded envelopes while JYJ Collection card arrived in cardboard box with foam bits and bubble wrap for cushioning. I like to get cheapest shipping with no tracking number but Kpoptown offers only Registered Small Packet and EMS to my country (Croatia, Europe). I contacted them about this and they said it is because packages get lost in Croatia a lot. I found this a bit annoying as I’ve been ordering from Korea for several years, probably more than 20 times and no shipment ever got lost, but maybe they really did have bad experience.
Kpoptown prices: Kpoptown offers among the lowest prices I found but for me ktown4u is in majority cases cheaper. Especially because they send Unregistered packet too. I still suggest you check for every order you are about to make because you never know. Also Kpoptown tends to have unofficial items too, not just official merch like ktown4u. There are also always a few official items in their outlet section.
Pros: They have unofficial goods too. While the sidebar categories are not very helpful (for example, if I click on JYJ official only a small percentage of available items are shown and some of them unofficial at that) their search is one of the best and seems to be reliable. They offer both EMS and Small Packet.
Cons: Don’t offer Unregistered Small Packet shipping option to some countries. Their prices usually a dollar or so higher than ktown4u.
Note: Kpoptown and Kpopmart have similar names and similar web-shop framework but they are different companies and not connected in any way.
I ordered twice from Kpopmart. First order I ever made was on 18th July 2014 when I preordered JYJ’s Just Us album. I suggested you read that review because I ordered the same album at the same time from ktown4u and Kpopmart and made detailed comparison. The second order I made was more recent, when I found JYJ Music Essay Their Rooms on discount.
I messed up delivery address once and e-mailed them about it. They replied within 24 hours and changed the address with no hassle.
Their search function is really bad, it doesn’t return almost any results and categories in the sidebar are also difficult to use. If you want to be 100% sure if an item is available I suggest you use Google’s function: “site:kpopmart.com YOUR_SEARCH_TERM”, for example
This works for any other shop as well.
Kpopmart discount: There is a discount section with roughly hundred items with lowered prices called Prices Drop.
Kpopmart shipping: They also offer EMS and the cheaper, Small Package service, but opposite to kpoptown they have no option for Registered version with tracking number. Personally this doesn’t bother me. In the beginning I felt safer using tracking number but after more than twenty packages from Korea I am more confident that chances of something going wrong are very slim. Availability of these shipping options may depend on the country you’re in.
I can’t tell you what their shipping time is as my first order was pre-order, which of course had to wait until release date (and was shipping out right away) and my second order was done during a nationwide holiday in Korea. I liked very much that they e-mailed me to let me know about the holiday and delay. Even though I already knew this it felt reassuring to know everything was running smoothly.
When I order from them again I will update this section.
Kpopmart prices: Kpopmart also has low prices, and even though most of the time ktown4u is a few cents cheaper it is not always the case. That goes for regular prices of course, if you find discounted good it can swing either way.
Pros: Cheapest form of shipping available, several items are always on sale. A photograph of the contents of your package is sent to you before goods are shipped to you.
Cons: Almost unusable search function which returns only a small amount of available goods. If you want to make sure
It’s somewhat difficult to give a review of Ebay as it’s actually a collection of different sellers – some big companies some individuals selling new or used items they happened to come by. I check Ebay often and rarely find low prices there. It seems owners have difficult time saying goodbye to their JYJ and TVXQ goods, as the prices of used items are usually higher than if you bought them new. Not that I blame them, I would have difficult time parting with my collection too.
Check to see seller ratings before you commit to buy. For example, if you see something like this
with over 38153 sales made and 99,8% positive rating, it’s as safe as it gets. Honestly, I ordered a few times with sellers with few sales and not such stellar ratings and had no issues. But still, be careful.
Albums and other official merchandise are usually cheaper in dedicated Kpop shop but if you want someone’s extra photocards or commercial products which are not meant for regular sale, like catalogues and posters with images of your biases , Ebay is your place.
11st is a Korean online shopping mall very similar in concept to Gmarket. I only ordered from them twice, one of which was when I was getting a very expensive JYJ Worldwide Concert. They had a 50% discount on shipping which, since they too only offer EMS was a big price difference.
Like Gmarket they charge you for estimated international shipping and then sellers send domestically to 11st headquarters where all your items are combined into one international shipment. If the estimated shipping fee was incorrect you will either be reimbursed or charged extra for the difference.
First time I ordered Yoochun’s photobook “Portraits of Youth” and the extra shipping cost was just too much for me. I canceled the order and I have to admit it was a rather pleasant experience. They were quick to cancel it, made no issues about it and returned my money quickly. I just had to reimburse them for the local shipping which was somewhere around $2.
11st handling time: It depends on the seller. I only ordered twice and these were my experiences:
I made the first order on 24th of February 2014. On the 28th I got e-mail from 11st saying I now had the right to cancel order because seller was taking more than 4 days to ship and then seller shipped few hours after that. On 4th of March 11st had already packed and weighted the package and got it ready for international shipping. The price was too high so I canceled. On the 6th I had my money back.
Second order I made was on 15th of March. Seller sent it on 17th of March to the headquarters and on the 21st it left Korea.
Japanese Kpop online store reviews
CDJapan is an online Japanese store that mostly sells music. This is the place to buy any Japanese editions of Kpop bands’ music.
Since DBSK promoted as Tohoshinki in Japan to the point where they were almost considered a Jpop band, and JYJ continued in similar fashion, this is an indispensable store for me.
Cdjapan discount: Every time you order, on your birthday and sometimes randomly you will get points assigned. One point is one Yen so this is a nice amount. There are also sales quite often.
Cdjapan shipping: They offer varying types of shipping from very cheap SAL (it takes about 10 days to reach Europe) to fastest EMS and FedEx. They have more shipping options than any Kpop stores and a feature I absolutely LOVE: shipping calculator right next to every item. Unlike in all other cases you can see the shipping price for your country right away and don’t have to put the item in cart and reach almost the end of ordering process before you find your shipping charge.
CDjapan prices: For the items I compared cdjapan is a tiny bit cheaper than HMV Japan and add to that cheap SAL shipping this was the cheapest option I was able to find.
Which Kpop shop do you like to use the most?