Collecting photo cards is a hobby many K-Pop fans enjoy but it can easily turn into an addiction.
Although in the center of a digital age, physical album sales are rising in the K-pop community because fans want to see their favorite artists reach No. 1 on the music charts.
To add on, photo cards are a perk that come with the albums that are a physical representation of a fan’s dedication to the artist. The more albums you buy, the higher your status as a fan.
The first photocard to ever be introduced in the K-Pop market was in 2010 by SM Entertainment’s girl group, SNSD. Ever since then, people have been buying albums just for the sake of collecting photo cards.
K-pop photo cards are similar to Pokémon cards and baseball cards where each card has its own rarity depending on its age, press release and where you got the photo card from.
Photo cards are included in albums, behind-the-scenes books, planners, concert merchandise and even special edition photo cards from pre-orders or certain stores.
With that in mind, collecting photo cards can become a handful as K-Pop companies release hundreds of different photo card editions.
For hardcore photo card collectors, it becomes stressful to try and buy every single photo card that comes out with every album release.
“Photo card addiction is scary,” said sophomore public health major Katelyn Teran. “Typically every photocard can range from $10 to $20 so when you’re constantly buying $15 photocards, buying two can accumulate to $30 or even $40.”
“It’s a real addiction people begin to have as they gain an urge to complete sets and have every single photocard of their favorite K-Pop artist in existence. Some even go as far as spending hundreds of dollars on a single photocard. When put into a non-collector’s perspective, it’s really not 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. Bids are also common on Ebay With more exclusive photo cards where prices can range into the hundreds and even thousands.
Despite the stress that comes with collecting photo cards, there is also a joy that comes with it once a balance is found.
Once collectors realize that they don’t need to collect every photo card in existence, it becomes an enjoyable hobby.
“One of my favorite things is trading photocards,” said Teran. “It’s a hobby for me so when I’m able to, I enjoy going on Instagram to look through the ATEEZ trading hashtag and reach out to people across the country and trade. You get to decorate and make the packaging so cute and you get to add freebies in there which brings the person you’re trading with joy.”
In order to collect photocards without it turning into an addiction, collectors need to create boundaries for themselves. Whether it’s placing a maximum amount of money you would spend on a photocard or only collecting one edition, simple restrictions like these make all the difference.
In the end, it’s a hobby that should make you happy, not add more stress into your life.
Cindy Rivas Alfaro is a journalism sophomore who can be reached at [email protected]