A K-pop fan's wish list is always a work in progress. Thanks to the industry's steady album output, with every release, fans eagerly await a fresh lineup of merchandise, photobooks, concert goods, along with other exciting collectibles. If you have a K-pop fan in your midst, gifting them a misspelled printed hoodie from the racks is easily avoidable, unless you have a good idea of what they'd like customised.
Start by figuring out who they like and go from there. Once you have intel on their favourite K-pop groups and solo artists (bonus points if you can find out their 'bias/ult' or the K-pop group member they like the best), you'll have a much easier time narrowing down the perfect present.
Official merchandise, like physical albums and concert lightsticks, will never not light up a K-pop fan's face. "I personally think you get a serotonin boost from buying albums - they're very different from what you expect - you get photocards, postcards, handwritten letters to fans and so much more," said Laila Rasheed, an Abu Dhabi-based fan who co-hosts Middle East's first K-pop podcast, Kpop Korner, with her friend Marah Al Jubeh.
Most K-pop fans will have a corner dedicated to displaying their invaluable collection - if you could add to it with an out-of-stock album version they're missing, all the better. "Marah and I love unboxing albums and seeing what photocards we pull. Both of us have an extensive K-pop collection, and you also have different versions of the same album," added Rasheed, whose favourite groups are Seventeen, EXO and NCT Dream.
Besides merchandise, consider gifting a K-pop fan tickets to an online concert. "We had a good string of concerts here, but it's been pretty dry lately. So, one of my favourite things to do is get tickets to the official livestream of the concert," said Rasheed.
In the meantime, you can quickly shop for goodies of some of the hottest K-pop bands on Amazon, from the rookie girl group NewJeans to global stars BlackPink, who will soon perform in Abu Dhabi on January 28, 2023. Order as a Prime member to get these gifts delivered to your K-pop fan as soon as possible.
1. Get an album of their favourite K-pop group
Dreamus TWICE Between 1&2 11th Mini Album (Complete Version)
TXT Minisode 2 : Thursday's Child 4th Mini Album (HATE+END+MESS ver. SET, + 3 Folded Posters)
Dreamus NewJeans 1st EP 'New Jeans' album [Bag ver.] (BLACK)
Dreamus Stray Kids MAXIDENT (Standard Edition Set + Limited Edition) Album, Multicolour
Latest releases are a good bet, but you could run the risk of a repeat purchase, since fans tend to pre-order weeks before an album drops. Double-check their recently bought albums and pick a physical copy (or a version!) that they don't already own. A K-pop album is a gift that keeps on giving - make sure you've placed an order with all the main freebies included, like the poster, extra photocards, postcards and more. Our picks are 2022 releases by the groups Twice, TXT, NewJeans and Stray Kids, and rest assured, all sales will be counted towards the Hanteo and Circle physical album charts.
2. Give them a lightstick to feel more connected to the fandom
BlackPink Official Lightstick Ver2 + Transparent photocard
(G)I-DLE Official Light Stick
EXO Official Lightstick Ver. 3
An official lightstick has the power to make an international K-pop fan feel like they're truly part of the crowd. Most K-pop artists have a signature lightstick in their fandom colour. Fans can wave these handheld contraptions to the beat, when they're streaming live concerts or music performances from home. It's also symbolic of a supportive fandom. If their favourite group happens to touchdown in the UAE, like BlackPink, they'll always be ready to cheer them on with a battery-operated lightstick. You could add a pack of AAA batteries to help them power it on right out of the box.
3. A powerful smartphone camera to survive the nosebleeds
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G Mobile Phone, 128GB, Green
- Built-in S Pen allows for precise editing
- Five-lens system, including 108MP main and 40MP selfie cameras
- Decent night photography
- Shoots a wide range of photos and 8K videos
- Gets noticeably warm
With popular groups touring internationally this year, a slew of fan-filmed clips circled the internet. Those who scored tickets in the distant nosebleeds (seats in the upper tiers of a stadium) wowed everyone with how clear their footage was. Turns out, the fans were able to zoom all the way into the stage using Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra's 100x digital zoom camera. It was quickly dubbed as the 'K-pop concert phone' on TikTok. Unsurprisingly, the S22 Ultra was also one of our best camera smartphone picks, according to experts. Nighttime photography is excellent with AI sensors and the main lens can capture 108MP photos that have enough pixel density to be printed out. The two telephoto cameras on the back will have you thinking you're seated in the VIP section. It even takes 8K-resolution videos for the best concert fancams. Since digital cameras are not permitted into the venue, this smartphone is their next best option.
Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh274.08 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh199, a one-year accidental damage protection for Dh332, a two-year damage protection plus one-year extended warranty for Dh424.
4. A season's greetings kit
Billlie 2023 Season's Greetings [The Thing Busters]
ITZY 2023 Season’s Greetings [Best Friends Forever] + Free Gift
NMIXX Girls Over Flowers 2023 Season's Greetings
The start of the year is usually more exciting for the K-pop fan because of this winter merchandise. K-pop artists prepare season's greetings annually - it's planned, filmed and released under a fresh concept and a whole new wardrobe. It's a useful bit of kit, too: a season's greetings typically comes with a themed desk calendar and planner for the coming year, a photobook, new photocards, a making film DVD and miscellaneous extras that can differ by groups. There's nothing like a motivational push to embark on your New Year's resolutions, from your very own favourite stars.
5. Put K-pop CDs to use, in a CD player
Homlab Wall Mountable CD Player
Realinkus Desktop Vertical CD Player
Albums come with perfectly playable discs that sometimes never see the light of the day, especially with digital streaming taking over. Buy a K-pop fan this viral CD player so that they can put their physical copies to use. Rasheed says if they already have a dedicated K-pop corner in the room, a wall-mountable CD player would definitely elevate the space. These players resemble the Sony Walkmans of the yesteryears, but with external speakers. You have the option to play tunes via Bluetooth and the 3.5mm audio cable, too.
6. Help organise their growing photocard collection
3-Inch Mini Photo Album, 40 Pockets (Bear)
A5 Photocard Binder (25 Pcs)
320 Pockets Mini Photo Album (4 Pcs)
Photocards are three-inch laminated carton papers, with selfies of K-pop stars printed on the front and signed at the back. These highly coveted collectibles can pile up easily, which is why fans opt for mini binders and folders to keep them safe. "We're very organised with photocards. We have binders for our favourite bands and then another one for photocards of the artists we just casually collect," said Rasheed. This is a thoughtful present and a foolproof one, as well, because an empty binder will always be put to use.
7. A new phone case for a brand new photocard
CASEKOO Crystal Clear Designed for iPhone 14 Pro Max, Clear
SAMSUNG S22 Clear Cover
Speaking of photocards, sometimes the most cherished of the collection travels with the fan, on the back of their phone. This is why K-pop fans tend to keep their choice of phone cases clear and transparent. Rasheed says she always carries a photocard of Mingyu, a member of the boy group Seventeen, under her clear glitter phone case. Pick the right case per phone model and toss it in your K-pop gift box.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.