Where to Buy K-pop Albums in the USA

I’ve recently started collecting k-pop albums, and just wanted to share my experiences and recommendations. So far, I’ve only purchased from sellers based in the US, with the exception of Mwave for signed albums. However, for Mwave orders, I recommend purchasing with a group order. More on that later! I live on the West Coast and I’m biased towards sellers closer to me because it’ll arrive quicker and it’s less likely to encounter any damage from prolonged travel time.

Choice Music (LA Store + online)
I’ve been to the store in LA and placed an online order exactly once. I preordered an album that was released on 3/13 and I received it on 3/19.

Music Plaza (LA Store + online + eBay)
I’ve been to the store in LA and placed an online order exactly once. Even though I ordered an album two months after its release, they still had the preorder benefit, which was nice.

Kpop Trash (online only, but allows LA pick-up option)
They are relatively new, but my favorite thing about them is that they offer free shipping for orders over $50! I placed an order in the morning and it was shipped out the same day. Everything was very well-packaged in lots of bubble wrap and there were a bunch of free gifts. For one of the albums, they didn’t have an option to select the album version, but I asked for a specific version in the comments and they confirmed in an email that they had sent it! (Plus, I pulled the photocard I really wanted so I am eternally grateful.)

They generally do not have albums on sale until after the release date, but they do also sell cosmetics and some merch. You can get 10% your order by using my referral link (a popup will appear on the right and you can enter your email to receive the code).

eBay
I’ve ordered new (sealed) albums from the following sellers on eBay and both were fine.
kpopstoreinusa9 on eBay (ships from Atlanta)
get_importcds on eBay (ships from Kentucky) – they frequently offer a 20% discount off orders of $60+

I’ve also ordered an unsealed album and I regretted not contacting them beforehand for additional pictures/details. But I was in a hurry to use a coupon code before it expired…

Note: Every once in a while eBay will have codes for 15% or 20% off your order (with a minimum purchase amount). So keep your watchlist stocked with things you’d buy if they were a little cheaper!

Amazon
I’ll order from any seller that qualifies for Amazon Prime shipping and is fulfilled by Amazon. Don’t expect folded posters to always arrive in great condition but my albums have been fine. I’ve ordered from the sellers valueflag and PiKACHU, and I always keep an eye out for sellers who include free gifts! Sometimes they will also still have preorder benefits, which should be noted either in the item title or description.

Group Orders (GOs)
Group orders are when one person orders a ton of albums in bulk to save on shipping. You can find them on Facebook and Twitter. Frequently, group order managers (GOMs) will also ask you for your photocard preferences and open all the albums to sort them. I’ve only joined an Mwave group order, so I can’t say if joining a GO is cheaper than buying the album from a US seller yourself. Sometimes, a GOM will cover the EMS shipping fees (shipping from Korea) themselves, so you’ll only have to pay for domestic shipping. However, GOs can also be risky because GOMs prefer not to accept PayPal Goods & Services payments.

For Mwave, some of their albums are signed by a random member rather than signed by all members, so if you have a preference for whose signature you want, definitely join a group order so your odds are higher! A lot of GOMs buy extra albums.

Facebook and Twitter
There are general k-pop buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook as well as groups for specific k-pop artists. These groups have been SO helpful for helping me collect some albums that are out-of-print and past Mwave signed albums. I definitely recommend paying with PayPal G&S for buyer protection. Ask about damage/defects before you pay and ask about how your goods will be packaged. (I forgot to ask once and received a photocard that wasn’t protected in a toploader.)

On Twitter, I follow some GOMs for groups I like and they will frequently RT posts from other people who are selling albums or merch. They also sometimes sell extras themselves. Be careful though! Check for proofs (tweets from past buyers with photos of the goods they received) and try to pay with G&S when possible.

That’s all I’ve got! If you have any questions, please leave a comment!

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Love & Life & Lie: Episode 1 Recap

Alright, I will give recapping a try! Love & Life & Lie is a 2017 Chinese drama starring Zhen Dong Yu (Sparrow) and Chen Xiao (Romance of the Condor Heroes). We’ll see if I can make it through all 41 episodes.

Ep1-1
Love & Life & Lie begins with our female lead, Xin Tong, taking on three students at a taekwando class. It turns out, she’s not a student here but a delivery person who makes regular deliveries to this class. She gave up going to college to support her mother by working part-time jobs, but sneaks in to classes when she can.

Ep1-2
Xin Tong stops by to see her mother, and we see that she is kind and caring. Her mother feels guilty that Xin Tong has given up college, but Xin Tong is positive and cheerful. She seems like a character we can root for.

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Review: Love & Life & Lie (2017)

lovelifelieChinese Name: 遇见爱情的利先生
Episodes: 41
Quick Summary: Liu Xin Tong (Zhou Dong Yu) is a kind-hearted, hardworking girl who foregoes college to help support her mother. When her life intersects with the family of wealthy businessman Ji Bai Jun by chance, her mother gets a job at their home and they move in. She meets Li Yao Nan (Chen Xiao), and they fall in love, but he happens to be the fiance of Ji Bai Jun’s daughter, the spoiled Ji Zhi Zhen (Ye Qing), who hates Xin Tong and her mother. Ji Zhi Zhen’s adopted brother, Ji Zhen Yu, also falls for Xin Tong, while Yao Nan’s younger half-brother has been secretly plotting…
Stream It: Viki
Recommendation: Watch it if you’re into melodrama?

Ok, Love & Life & Lie seemed promising in the beginning – the cast was appealing and Xin Tong is a very likable character. She’s the classic selfless, hardworking girl, but also knows how to stand up for herself. I loved her cousin Shan Shan, who was a true friend to her. I confess, I skimmed through the first half of the drama and watched all of the last half. There were a lot of villains in this drama, which made this a very tumultuous watch. I can’t 100% recommend it because I was SO frustrated constantly, but you could do a lot worse.

Zhou Dong Yu (Xin Tong, the female lead) was fantastic, while Chen Xiao (Yao Nan, the male lead) was cute but had questionable acting skills. Ye Qing was Guo Guo in Across the Ocean to See You, so clearly she can play spoiled, bratty characters, but I’d love to see her as the lead sometime soon!

***SPOILERS FOLLOW***

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Review: Boss & Me (2014)

Boss and Me 1Chinese Name: 杉杉来了
Episodes: 34
Quick Summary: Xue Shan Shan’s (Zhao Li Ying) rare blood type brings her into the life of her boss, Feng Teng (Zhang Han), whose sister also has the same blood type. (I’d rather not give any other details away!)
Recommendation: Watch it!

I read a review of Boss & Me that said it was really cute, and it was right! Boss & Me was so sweet that I don’t know how it’s taken me so long to discover it. The greatest strength of Boss & Me is that it won’t piss you off. After Royal Sister Returns, I was not about any ridiculous, overdramatic storylines, and Boss & Me delivered. I loved all the main characters. Even the “villainous” characters were not entirely awful.

I loved that Shan Shan wasn’t the brightest, but she worked hard, had a positive attitude, and stayed true to herself. Even in the crucial plot moments, I found her very reasonable and not over-the-top in her reactions. Zhao Li Ying is seriously adorable. Zhang Han is just okay, and I didn’t particularly love Feng Teng, but he was acceptable.

***SPOILERS FOLLOW***

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Review: Royal Sister Returns (2017)

royal-sister-returns-chinese-2017Chinese Name: 御姐归来
Episodes: 36
Quick Summary: Ai Mi Er (Ady An) is the sole heir to EMT Group. When her father tries to force her to marry as a business alliance, Ai Mi Er runs away to search for the ex-boyfriend who disappeared without a word several years ago and unknowingly ends up working for the younger brother (Zhu Yi Long) of her intended fiance.
Stream It: haven’t seen this with English subs anywhere
Recommendation: Watch it until episode 27

**Don’t worry, spoilers will be clearly marked.**

The 2009 Taiwanese drama Autumn’s Concerto starring Ady An and Van Ness Wu is one of my all-time favorites. Ady An was fantastic in that drama, and I’ve always hoped that she would do another modern drama so I was really excited when I heard about Royal Sister Returns. I couldn’t find it with English subtitles anywhere so I gave up and just watched it without subs.

Royal Sister Returns starts off very promisingly – sure, you have some over-the-top dramatic elements (for example, Ai Mi Er’s security detail) and some terribly annoying characters (the villains), but it’s a Chinese drama. That’s to be expected. The great thing was that both lead characters, Ai Mi Er and He Kai Xin (does anyone really name their child this?!), are both likable and funny, especially together. He Kai Xin’s friends are also absolutely hilarious. Even though I found He Yi Kun and Qing Qing’s storyline boring, I still appreciated it. However, ultimately Royal Sister Returns is ruined by a series of utterly ridiculous and cliched plot lines. I wish the drama had resolved and ended after episode 27. The final episode was especially awful.

Also, I just realized that the actress who plays Qing Qing was Su Jin in Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms (aka Eternal Love). And the actor who plays Fang Ge was Manager Bai from Ode to Joy?

***SPOILERS FOLLOW***

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First Impressions: Goblin, The Lonely and Great God

Oops, I disappeared. I was on a drama spree for a while but all of a sudden it felt like there was nothing left for me to watch! Which sounds ridiculous, because how is that possible?!

IMG_0160

I am currently watching Goblin: The Lonely and Great God on DramaFever. I’ve been meaning to watch this drama for a long time since I’ve heard ah-mazing things about it, and guess what: EVERYONE IS RIGHT. First of all, visually, Goblin is absolutely stunning. I’ve taken so many screenshots of it (select few at the bottom of this post). The colors, the composition, the deliberate pauses that showcase the beauty of the scene – I love it. The soundtrack is also on point.

Gong Yoo and Lee Dong Wook are both so fantastic, especially together. Why haven’t I seen them since Coffee Prince and My Girl, respectively?! The scenes with the goblin & the reaper are so wonderful and funny and sometimes heartbreaking. At first I was surprised to see Kim Go Eun as the female lead because I had recently watched Cheese in the Trap, but she is very charming and it works. Yoo In Na also plays an awesome, quirky character who I love. I looked up her credits but it’s been too long for me to remember her in Secret Garden.

It’s been weeks and I’ve only watched six episodes because I just want to savor every episode. Continue reading

First Impressions: The Fox’s Summer (2017)

foxs-summerChinese Name: 狐狸的夏天
Brief Summary: Gu Cheng Ze (Jiang Chao) is the adopted son of the Gu family and president of the family’s company. In order to motivate Gu Jin Yun, the lazy, partying Gu family heir, he hires the girl who broke his heart seven years ago, Li Yan Shu (Tan Song Yun).
Stream It: YouTube

I’m really enjoying The Fox’s Summer! Li Yan Shu is hotheaded and sly, but also talented and hardworking, and the more you learn about her past, the more you like her. Gu Cheng Ze is your classic smart and motivated but unfeeling CEO. I’m sure you can tell where this is going. And yet, even as I’m about 11 or 12 episodes into this drama (I’ve been watching episode after episode so I’ve lost track of which one I’m on), I can’t help but think I would have also loved this drama if it had gone in the other direction. My next thoughts are spoiler-ey though so…

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