For people not living in Korea, buying kpop CDs or mp3s is not a simple task. Two sellers I know other than Amazon and iTunes are YesAsia and AladdinUS. I’ve also heard of Mr. Kwang on Indieful ROK. Shipping costs can be hefty and not everything is available at these stores or on YouTube. While we hope for a better way of purchasing kpop overseas becomes available soon, if you happen to be in Korea, where and how would you get your music?
If you are an overseas Korean with a valid registration number or a foreigner with an alien registration number, you can become members of online stores such as Aladin and Yes24 and make online purchases. Buying online is cheaper than buying offline.
MP3s or streaming passes can be purchased through Bugs Music, Soribada and other music streaming sites such as Dosirak and Melon. I haven’t had much experience with the latter two, but both Soribada and Bugs are easy to navigate. These sites also provide applications for smart phone users, so if you have a smart phone, you would compare the different services and pick the one that fits you the best. I have read that Bugs’ interface for smart phones is user-friendly. Portals like Daum and Naver sell mp3s as well.
Another option is to visit stores like Kyobo (교보), Yŏngp’ung (영풍) and Hyang Music (향뮤직) that have both online and offline stores. Offline prices tend to be more expensive, but if you are just visiting Korea for a short time or don’t have an alien registration number, then going to a physical store might be more convenient. I believe Kyobo has the most branches throughout Korea. Hyang Music based in Sinch’on (신촌), Seoul is solely dedicated to music and is also a place for people to trade used CDs. If you are a member at Hyang Music online, you can buy an item at the online price just by mentioning your online ID at the register.
If you are interested in listening to a particular song and are not having much luck on YouTube, Naver is a good place to go to. Korea seems to have very close-knit online communities and people take time to answer all kinds of questions asked by other people. One thing they do often is post music on their blogs. Type in the name of the song you are looking for in the search box outlined in green. Limit your results to blogs. You are likely to find a blog posting streaming the song.
Being in Korea makes it so much easier to buy kpop but some Koreans covet the access to Pandora or Spotify. I guess we do long for what we do not have.