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K-pop fever lucrative for small traders in Indonesia

The presence of Korean chain stores at big shopping malls is not the only evidence of the impact of the K-pop wave in the capital.

Informal online merchandise and CD and DVD sellers are popping up on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. One of them is Sitta Hapsari, 31, the owner of the Chinguya online shop, who works for a Korean company in Jakarta.

The woman who used to live in Korea for a year started selling K-pop CDs and DVDs in 2010. Initially, she did not take the business seriously as she just wanted to share her affinity for the popular culture with her fellow Indonesians.

“I manage the online shop with my friend. She works at a shoe company. We use Facebook and Twitter, but nowadays we get orders from Twitter most of the time,” Sitta said.

“When I lived in Korea, I knew a CD and DVD store that also sells their products abroad. Until now, I still order from that store. All CDs and DVDs I sell come directly from Korea.”

Sitta revealed that each month, she could earn between 3 million rupiah ($260.19) and 4 million rupiah. Because all products had to be delivered from Korea, she had to sell the CDs and DVDs for more expensive than the original price, ranging from 150,000 rupiah to 300,000 rupiah, she continued.

“Most of my buyers are high school and college students. Currently, the best sellers are CDs and DVDs of EXO (a Korean boy band), but before that Super Junior and SNSD were also good sellers,” Sitta explained.

“Until today, we don’t have a physical shop because it requires huge capital. At the moment we want to concentrate on promoting our names among K-pop-loving communities in Indonesia. In the future, we may sell other products as well not only CDs and DVDs.”

Another shop that offers merchandise for K-pop fans, dubbed as K-Poppers, is the Pop! Korean shop located at Blok M square in South Jakarta.

Kurniasih, a 27-year-old private tutor, said she visited the shop to buy merchandise of her favourite Korean boy band Super Junior.

“I want to buy a cloth mask featuring Cho Kyu-hyun,” he said, referring to her favourite Suju member.

Kurniasih said she wanted to send a letter to her idol and the mask would be the gift. Although she began to fall in love with the Kings of the Hallyu Wave last year, Kurniasih has managed to collect some items like jackets, T-shirts, pins, lightsticks and stickers.

“I hope many more shops like this will open in Jakarta, so it will be easier for me to buy the merchandise,” said the girl who saved a portion of her income to buy her idols’ merchandise and attend their concerts.

Co-owner of Pop! Korean shop Novi Nurjayanti Pohan said she opened the store in 2011 with her friend, Natasyah.

“Both of us worked in a Korean magazine and we saw that the enthusiasm of Indonesian fans was huge. Hence, we quit our jobs and decided to open the store,” she said.

Novi said their store was not a success initially. “We did not get a single customer for the first three months. I almost gave up,” she said.

Novi said their fortune came when one of the boy bands had a concert in Indonesia. “Since then we started to get customers,” she said.

The shop now averages 15 customers per day and many more on weekends.

“We design and produce most of our items ourselves,” she said, adding that she also is willing help fans who wanted to buy official merchandise.

By Corry Elyda and Rangga D. Fadillah

(The Jakarta Post)