#HowDoUKpop? - Kpop America

There’s really only one place to go in Chicago if you want to shop Kpop. Smack dab in the middle of Chinatown, half a block south of the arch on Wentworth, is Kpop America. We recently made our very first visit to this hallowed ground, and we weren’t disappointed. If you live in Chicago, then there’s a pretty good chance that this is how you Kpop.

What It Is

Kpop America is a retail store that specializes in albums, apparel, and other Kpop trinkets. It’s not a giant warehouse, but they stock a decent back-catalog of the big groups, and any major recent releases. If you’re hooked on digital music, the wall of albums might just entice you to buy your first physical CD in a very long time. It worked on us!

Kpop America doesn’t have a website. It doesn’t need a website. They understand, quite rightly, that you can go online and buy Kpop ephemera anywhere. But this store is the only place in Chicago where you can walk around and feel Kpop, touch Kpop, smell Kpop. It’s an experience. And that is part of what you’re paying for.

There were a ton of posters, and coffee mugs, and stickers and socks and stuff. If we’re writing a fair review, we would have liked to have seen more apparel. There was a decent collection of hats, some t-shirts, and then like three racks of Exo sweatshirts.

No Photos?

We have no photos of the inside! We’re sorry! The first thing you’ll see when you walk into Kpop America is a big sign that says “No Photography Allowed.” What? At first this sign bothered us. Mainly because we wanted to take pictures to show you all the beautiful Kpop things. But we are going to respect that sign. We don’t buy the suggestion that there are bootlegs or knockoffs here. We think the sign serves a very different purpose.

We spent enough time in there to study the people who came in, and there were two very distinct categories: Kpop fans, and Chicago tourists. The first group made us feel welcome. The second group made us feel embarrassed. It’s the second group that the no photography ban is targeting. What those signs indicate is that this store is not a curiosity. It is not a fish tank. Do not point and laugh at the oddity of pop culture that is not your own. Do not point and laugh at those who enjoy it. We’ll be honest: we love the sign. No photography please. Let us enjoy our Kpop in peace.

The Owners Are Awesome

Seriously. We're shy. We didn’t set out to meet them. We didn’t set out to talk to them about our mutual love of Running Man, and the concert they just saw with Kim Jong Kook and HaHa. But it happened. We had a real Kpop conversation with strangers. And had we tried, I’m sure we could have done the same with all the other fans, like the girls who huddled around an Infinite album, or the woman who desperately wanted everything and anything T.O.P. That’s the real joy of Kpop America.

This is Chicago. And this is how we Kpop. What about you? #HowDoUKpop


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