KPop and the Physical Album Phenomenon

Written by Shelby, staff member, Halifax Central Library, opens a new window

When was the last time you purchased a CD? It’s probably been a while! For a long time, CDs were the most popular way to listen to music. These days, you can listen to any song you want as long as you have an internet connection. With the ever-growing popularity of music streaming services such as Spotify, Youtube Music, and Apple Music, many people don’t bother with purchasing physical disks at all!

But if people aren't really buying CDs anymore, why are sales of physical KPop (Korean pop music) albums exploding? As a KPop fan myself, I'm here to help you understand the appeal.

Picture this:

A few months ago, a friend sent you a music video, and you loved it! You soon found yourself adding the song to your driving playlist, dancing along to it in the kitchen, and even seeking out the artist's other music. You ask your friend why you haven't heard of the artist before, and they tell you that although the artist is good—they aren't very popular. Hearing this, you decide that you want to support the artist's work so that they can keep making the music you love. So when you hear that they are coming out with a new album, you just HAVE to preorder a copy.

But when you finally receive your album in the mail, you notice that it's unlike any album you've purchased before...

More than a CD

When unboxing your new album, you might find that the CD is the LEAST exciting thing about your purchase. In fact, you may even find that your album looks more like a book at first glance! That’s because one of the largest items your album comes with is an exclusive photo book. Here are some things that you will usually receive when unboxing a KPop album for the first time:

  • Photobook
  • CD
  • Postcard
  • Photo card
  • Stickers
  • Poster
  • Point card

Exciting right?! But those are just some typical items—if you're lucky, your album might also come with: 

  • Temporary tattoos
  • Craft kits
  • Notebooks
  • Photo frames
  • Keyrings
  • Colouring pages
  • Bookmarks

Blindbox appeal

One of the most appealing (and addicting) things about collecting KPop albums is the blindbox effect! Some KPop artists will release multiple versions of the same album, each with different photo books and photo cards. This means that if you only order one copy, you never really know what you’re going to get.

Photo cards

Speaking of photo cards, they are some of the most popular items found in KPop albums! Typically, you only receive one random photo card per album—that means that it's up to luck whether or not you get your favourite group member's card. If luck isn't on your side, the KPop fandom has a very healthy trading community, so you can usually find someone to trade photo cards with!


KPop albums can be fairly expensive, ranging from $25-$50 on average. They are considered valuable collector’s items just like with any other collecting hobby, but I believe that their true value lies in the joy and excitement of unboxing! Check out my KPop album unboxing video, opens a new window to see what they're like for yourself:

Need more KPop in your life? Check out Shelby's other blog, KPop, Won’t Stop: An Appreciation Post, opens a new window, to listen along to a KPop playlist and learn all about polco!