Collecting photo cards is a hobby that many K-Pop fans enjoy, but it can easily become addictive.
Although at the center of a digital age, sales of physical albums are rising in the K-pop community because fans want to see their favorite artists hit No. 1 on the music charts.
To add, photo cards are a perk that comes with albums that are a physical representation of a fan’s dedication to the artist. The more albums you buy, the higher your fan status.
The first photo card to be introduced in the K-Pop market dates back to 2010 by SM Entertainment girl group, SNSD. Since then, people buy albums just to collect photo cards.
K-pop photo cards are similar to Pokemon cards and baseball cards where each card has its own rarity based on its age, press release, and where you got the photo card from.
Photocards are included in scrapbooks, behind-the-scenes books, planners, concert merchandise, and even special-edition photocards from pre-orders or select stores.
With that in mind, collecting photo cards can become a handful as K-Pop companies release hundreds of different editions of photo cards.
For hardcore photocard collectors, it becomes stressful trying to buy every photocard that comes out with every album release.
“The photocard addiction is scary,” said Katelyn Teran, a sophomore in public health. “Typically, each photocard can range from $10 to $20. So when you’re consistently buying $15 photocards, buying two can add up to $30 or even $40.”
“It’s a real addiction that people start having when they want to complete sets and have every photocard of their favorite K-Pop artist. Some even go so far as to spend hundreds of dollars on just one photocard. When put in the perspective of a non-collector, it really isn’t worth it,” said Teran.
Collecting photo cards is an expensive hobby and many collectors are aware of this.
Most photo cards are either traded or sold on sites like Mercari, instagram and Depop. Auctions are also frequent on eBay with more exclusive photo cards where prizes can run into the hundreds or even thousands.
Despite the stress that comes with collecting photo cards, there is also a joy that comes with it once a balance is struck.
Once collectors realize that they don’t need to collect every photo card out there, it becomes an enjoyable hobby.
“One of my favorite things is exchanging photocards,” Teran said. “It’s a hobby for me, so when I have the chance, I like to go on Instagram to browse the ATEEZ business hashtag and reach people across the country and trade. You can decorate and make the package so cute and you can add gifts to it, which brings joy to the person you are exchanging.
In order to collect photocards without it becoming addictive, collectors need to create boundaries. Whether it’s placing a maximum amount of money you’d spend on a photocard or only collecting one edition, simple restrictions like these make all the difference.
Ultimately, it’s a hobby that should make you happy, not add more stress to your life.
Cindy Rivas Alfaro is a second-year journalism student who can be reached at [email protected]