Joining an official K-Pop fanclub might seem like an odd thing to do as an International based fan – particularly as most of the benefits of being a member only apply to events and concerts that are held in Korea – but it’s another way to support a group while getting a nifty card with your name on it that you can flash to prove you’re a literal die-hard card-carrying member!
This year, I decided that I’d sign up for as many of my groups as I could – Sure it’s a total indulgence, but it’s fun at the same time. Typically, fans tend to only join one fanclub – but I love so many groups and I have no problem at all supporting all of them at the same time! (Though October is going to kill me as it’s a month of back to back comebacks for boy groups that I adore and love and I can’t choose between them and will be torn for who to support the most for music shows…)
K-Pop groups usually have specific sign-up periods for their official fanclubs (generally a 2 week window of time) once a year (and sometimes not even that!! SHINee open your registration again already!!). Depending on the group, sign-ups may be via the official Daum cafe, an email address, via the record company website, or through a third party website. It used to be very difficult for a fan not based in Korea to join, as you’d often need a Korean postal address, or even a Korean SSN (Social Security Number) and the whole process was in Korean (as you’d expect) But these days, recognising that the Hallyu wave has brought the world to their door, more and more groups are adding an ‘International Fan’ option.
Once you have registered and paid, your membership is then valid for one year. Typically the benefits include:
- Instant level-up in the Daum fancafe so that you have earlier access to behind the scenes photos, messages from members etc. This is really great for me, because I’m a total lurker when it comes to the fancafes, as my Korean fluency is still pretty sketchy and I slightly hyperventilate at the thought of having to write a post in order to accumulate participation points.
- Early access to purchase concert tickets or concert ticket lotteries
- Participation in a fansign or fanmeeting event
- Preferential access for things like music programs during comeback schedules
- Special fanclub goods that often come with messages from your group
- A card with your name and membership number on it
Some groups don’t extend all of these benefits to international fans, so if you’re joining to have access to a fansign/fanmeeting for when you’re in Korea, be sure to read the fine print! And these benefits only apply to concerts and events held in Korea during the year that your membership is valid; if your group comes to your country, being a member will not give you early access to tickets. To take advantage of the benefits while in Korea, you’ll need to be able to navigate the fan cafe & understand some Korean to find out dates, times and the application process for fanmeetings, or be a whizz with google translate (or be like me and stalk Tumblr tags for helpful people who write tutorials on how to do things!) And even then, nothing is guaranteed!
Recruitment notices are posted in the fancafe and you might get a cute youtube video notice as well – you just need to keep your eyes peeled (or stalk Tumblr tags or Facebook groups)
So far this year, I have joined the following fanclubs: The costs are in Australian dollars and each membership works out to about $60-80 once shipping is factored in. Most of these were super easy to sign up for, as the third party website that they used (Interpark) had an option in English and accepted foreign credit cards. The hardest part is joining the fancafe and applying for your level up LOL!
BAP – $38 plus separate shipping costs that we didn’t find out about until it was too late 😦 So alas we never got the fan goods
2PM – $35 plus $25 shipping costs – came with card and box of fan goods (pin set, bookmark, postcards)
Teen Top – $28 plus $17 shipping – card only – you can buy the fangoods ‘Angel Box’ separately without being a member
Infinite – $36 plus $35 shipping – came with card, postcard and light-stick
EXO – Free, online only registration, no direct benefits
GOT7 – $38 plus $29 shipping – came with card and box set of fan goods (stickers, postcards, card holder)
VIXX – $27 plus $29 shipping (made separately via international bank transfer, so the fees were HUGE) will come with card and goods
Infinite had their 4th fanclub recruitment for Inspirits earlier this year. It was all handled through Interpark, who also helpfully added shipping costs automatically, so required no effort whatsoever!
2 months after the sign-up I received a package via DHL. It was a pretty hefty box and I was surprised as during sign-up the ‘fan goods’ weren’t actually listed – we just knew it would be something.
Much to my joy, it was the new lightstick of GIANTNESS!
We also got our card as well as a postcard with printed signatures and messages. It was all super cute, but I was mostly excited about the lightstick. Buying one of these and paying shipping costs more than the fanclub membership itself, so this was a win for me!
The lightstick is really pretty – and has a cut-out on the top in the shape of the logo, so when it lights up it casts the same shape – so clever! So now I’m armed with an official lightstick for the next Infinite concert that we go to!
Special bonus – my ultimate bias Sunggyu posing (as only he can) with this glorious piece of merch!