This is the sales of 400 best-selling albums from January to May, announced by the Korea Music Contents Association. This is an increase of 7.6 million copies from the same period of the previous year (18,357,683 copies), which is 62% of last year’s annual album sales (based on top 400 albums), the highest since 2003. If this trend continues in the second half, this year’s yearly album sales will exceed last year’s record.
The record industry is enjoying an unprecedented boom, but the gaze of K-pop fans is not pleasant. The amount of garbage generated by the purchase of albums is enormous. Each CD weighs about 18.8g. Counting the number of CDs alone, it is calculated that more than 488 tons of plastic were generated in the first half of this year. Considering the album package and packaging materials such as photo books and photo cards, the environmental pollution caused by the purchase of music is expected to be more serious.
The problem is that plastic isn’t everything. Da-Yeon Lee, an activist of Kpop4Planet, a climate action platform led by K-pop fans, said, “The plastic problem is part of the climate crisis. Pointed out According to the BBC, music performances in the UK alone emit 405,000 tons of greenhouse gases each year. It is explained that greenhouse gases are emitted in all preparing and holding concerts, such as movement of singers and staff between regions, production of goods (commemorative goods), and stage installation.
Under this circumstance, pop stars were troubled by envisioning a carbon-neutral performance. British rock band Coldplay suspended their world tour in 2019 due to environmental concerns. Billie Eilish, Maroon Five, Pink, etc., collaborated with the environmental group ‘Reverb’ to try the ‘Green Tour’ that minimized plastic and carbon emissions. In an interview with CNN, Reverb explained, “We have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by more than 300 million pounds (about 136 million kg) through collaboration with various artists.
In the K-pop industry, voices calling for change have spread around the fandom. In July, K-Pop 4 Planet, which opened in March, launched the ‘No K-pop on a Dead Planet’ campaign and provided climate support to major K-pop agencies such as SM, YG, JYP, and Hive—asked to participate in the action. They suggested to entertainment agencies and singers minimizing the use of plastic in producing albums and goods, planning performances in a low-carbon way, actively communicating with artists, and taking action on the climate crisis by singing K-pop songs with environmental messages.
Blackpink has recently been trying eco-friendly marketing, such as producing goods using eco-friendly TPU (plastic with rubber elasticity) material. Chungha released a record package with minimal plastic and coating in February. Still, there is a long way to go. . If the sales strategy of the agency that induces multiple purchases of albums with components such as photo cards and fan signing event tickets, and the fandom culture that tries to prove the status of singers through album sales or music/music video streaming, do not improve, ‘eco-friendly K-pop’ is a distant story. only
“If the climate crisis accelerates, we will be the last generation to enjoy K-pop,” said activist Lee Da-Yeon. For many fans to enjoy K-pop on safe earth for a long time, we need to act together now.”