From cars to “ARMY bombs”: chip crunch creeps into the world of K-pop

As the best K-pop groups prepare to take the stage or live-stream new shows after being sidelined by the pandemic, their fans are discovering that the global chip crisis has also caught up with the world of catchy tunes, glitzy outfits and elaborate dance routines.

Glowsticks, a must-have accessory for South Korean pop enthusiasts, have become more expensive and harder to obtain due to the shortage in production of everything from smartphones to cars.

Fans of glowing wands wave during concerts and virtual events are equipped with so-called microcontrollers for power management and pairing with a phone to change color, and highlight how much compression has gone. spread in various sectors and aspects of daily life.

The price of glow sticks, used by “ARMY” or fans of the BTS mega-group and called “ARMY bombs,” has increased from $ 2 to $ 59 as of October 1, Weverse Shop, owned by Hybe Entertainment, said. accusing the “persistent”. global semiconductor shortage ”.

A fan of K-pop idol boy group BTS watches a live online concert, wearing a protective mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a cafe in Seoul, South Korea ( REUTERS / Heo Ran / File Photo)

“I sure hope the prices won’t be too high because a lot of ARMY and other fans can’t afford such prices either,” said Pervushina Elizaveta, an employee of an entertainment company and fan of BTS from Estepona, Spain. Fans of South Korean group SEVENTEEN will have to shell out an additional $ 3 for their glow sticks, while supporters of acts like YG Entertainment’s EXO, SHINee, Girls’ Generation and BlackPink stand no chance. SM Entertainment’s global store said EXO, SHINee and Girls’ Generation’s transoms have sold out, while BlackPink’s are out of stock on the group’s official website.

Hybe, SM Entertainment and other leading Korean entertainment companies did not respond to requests for comment. While Grammy-nominated BTS plans to perform live in Los Angeles in November and December for the first time since the pandemic, other South Korean groups are scheduling shows online. Still, fans are eager to make the most of it, with glow sticks lit and messages shared in chat rooms. “It’s a fun way to feel connected to other fans around the world. So when you enjoy a concert, even from home, you can kind of be a part of something amazing! Said Starla Stafford, a fan from Chattanooga, Tennessee.


To make the pain worse, the semiconductors in glow sticks are being made using older technology and these low-end chips are currently facing the greatest shortage, said Jim Handy, analyst for the research firm. Semiconductor Market Analysis Objective Analysis. Wait times for semiconductor shipments are now up to six months, down from about two months typically, manufacturers said. “I have bulk ordered microcontroller chips in advance, hoping that the live events will return next year as the delivery time is long,” said Ashton Jungmin Choi, co-founder of FANLIGHT, a Seoul-based company that makes glow sticks for bands like BTS, EXO, and SuperM.

He said shipping costs had tripled and chips were costing 30% more than a year ago. “It’s very difficult to get a glow stick. They are always in demand and it has been impossible to get the BTS army bombs, ”said Mette Kidal, owner of All In Kpop, a Denmark-based K-pop merchandise retailer that has opened a new store in the country this month to meet sharply rising demand. TWICE fanlights sold out faster than usual, Kidal said, after the girl group announced an upcoming tour in the final scenes of their new all-English single “The Feels.”

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About Dawn Valle

Dawn Valle

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