Many Kpop fans from both in and outside of Korea are expressing dissatisfaction with the skyrocketing concert ticket prices.
Do Hee Yeon, a passionate Kpop fan in her 20s, recently spent 471,000 won (around 360 USD) to attend 3 concerts of boy group SHINee. However, she believed that such prices are excessively high, especially for students like her and for people who don’t have a stable job.
According to Hee Yeon, before the COVID-19 pandemic, Kpop concert tickets were normally priced at around 120,000 won (approx. 91 USD), but prices have recently hiked up by nearly 30%, to 157,000 won. The fan also shared that a friend of hers had to consider getting a part-time job just to afford the tickets, and expressed frustration at the unreasonable price fans have to pay, just to see their favorite artists on stage.
In an interview with The Korea Times, Do Hee Yeon confessed, “We often feel like our pure love of Kpop is being exploited”, adding, “If the price continues to go up like this, we may not be able to attend any more shows in the future”.
In 2019, the ticket prices for all seats in the BTS concert “Love Yourself: Speak Yourself”, which was held at the Olympic Stadium in Jamsil, Seoul, were priced at 110,000 won. However, after 3 years, VIP tickets to BTS’ concert “Permission to Dance on Stage – Seoul” cost a hefty 220,000 won, whilst a standard ticket also rose to 165,000 won.
Additionally, alongside BTS, other groups under HYBE Labels, such as TXT, SEVENTEEN, and ENHYPEN, also experienced huge rises in ticket prices. In 2022, tickets to these groups’ concert cost around 132,000 won, only for the company to sell VIP and standard tickets at prices of 198,000 won and 154,000 won, respectively, in 2023. It seems that earning over 198.1 million in concert revenues in 2022 wasn’t enough for HYBE, who decided to up the prices by 50% the next year.
International Kpop fans also share the same sentiments. According to local media outlet MGR Online, ticket prices for Kpop concerts have climbed by nearly 20% in Thailand since 2019. In the case of girl group BLACKPINK, a VIP ticket is sold at 14,800 baht (about 400 USD), nearly three times higher than the average ticket price for a domestic concert.
Some Thai fans have brought up this issue to the Thai Consumer Protection Agency, but no solution is given. There is simply no law regulating concert ticket prices, as it is wholly based on an agreement between sellers and consumers.
Regarding this situation, consumer science professor Lee Eun Hee revealed that the Korean government cannot control the prices of non-essential items like concert tickets. Since Kpop concerts are a free market with competition, there is no clear criterion to determine whether a ticket is too expensive, she stated.
However, seeing that the consumer price index increased by 5.1% in the past year, the rate at which Kpop ticket prices are increasing indeed raises concerns.
Professor Lee Eun Hee also pointed out that Kpop fandoms primarily consist of young people. According to Hanteo Chart’s tracking index, teenagers and those in their 20s accounted for over 89% of global Kpop fans in 2021. Therefore, it is important that entertainment agencies take fans, the majority of whom are teenagers who may not have the ability to afford expensive tickets, into consideration.
Similarly, Lee Gyu Tak, an associate professor of cultural studies, agreed that the current ticket prices may burden some fans, especially those from lower-income countries.
However, he also stated there are reasons behind the increasing prices. “The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in prices for almost everything, from labor to transportation. Nowadays, Kpop concerts have grown in scale and improved in quality, requiring more staff and equipment. Many performances even include live bands, all of which require money. It’s understandable that many Kpop labels cannot avoid raising ticket prices”, the professor said.
According to Lee Gyu Tak, agencies have two ways to appease disgruntled fans. First, they can lower ticket prices by organizing performances at smaller and cheaper venues. If not, they need to enhance the quality of performances to make audiences feel that the money they spent is worth the cost.
“In reality, many concerts at large stadiums do not differ significantly in quality from smaller venues”, the professor said, adding, “Once the companies invest more in enriching the audience experience, such as adding more visual effects to the stage, they can appease those who complain about high ticket prices”.
Source: The Korea Times