The Korea Herald


Singer's fans 'donating' records to charity sparks controversy

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : June 9, 2024 - 14:38

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Singer Kim Ho-jung walks out of the Gangnam Police Station in Seoul on May 31, after being interrogated for suspected drunk driving. (Yonhap) Singer Kim Ho-jung walks out of the Gangnam Police Station in Seoul on May 31, after being interrogated for suspected drunk driving. (Yonhap)

Scandal-ridden trot star Kim Ho-jung has found himself at the center of yet another controversy, after it was reported that his fans have donated mass amounts of his records to charity.

Fans of the 32-year-old singer, currently under investigation for drunk driving, recently petitioned the state-run broadcaster to withdraw its ban of Kim, saying his "good influence" has led to fans donating close to 10 billion won ($7.25 million) to charity over the past four years. KBS denied the requests. The breakdown of the donations, however, showed that Kim's official fan club had given 7.5 billion won of his records to 685 groups between August and November of 2022.

Donating albums has long been a much-disputed custom here, where the majority of the music fans buy multiple albums for the sole purpose of giving their stars a boost on local charts.

Popular artists sell their albums by the truckloads to fans, but not many actually listen to the music they're buying, at least with the physical copy. About 86.4 percent of people here listen to music via video platforms, while 69 percent listen via music streaming platforms, but only 5.4 percent listen to the physical copies, a November report from the Korea Creative Content Agency showed.

A total of 3,500 people between the ages 10 and 69 participated in the survey.

But the market in the country is bigger than ever, with physical album sales here surpassing the 100 million mark for the first time last year. The estimated annual sales of 120 million records marked the highest figure ever -- and a 50 percent increase from about 80 million the year before.

The KOCCA report showed that 37.6 percent of the respondents have bought physical copies of a musical record, but when asked why they buy them, only 28.7 percent said it was for the actual music.

About 52.7 percent said they buy the records to own them, 47.9 percent said it was because they were fans of the artist and 21.4 percent said they bought the records "because they were limited editions." The respondents were allowed to choose multiple answers for the survey.

As such, many of the records are "donated" to charity.

An unnamed official of a Busan-based foundation told local media that no one has been asking for the donated Kim's records, particularly since his alleged drunk driving incident recently came to light.