October offered no rest for fans of Korean music as comebacks and debuts dropped left and right, and it proved to be an even rougher month for the shopping centers that cater to the industry.
I’ve ordered from KoreanMall once before with very good results, but I was already aware going into it this time that things probably wouldn’t go as smoothly. This is still a relatively new company after all, and BTS, SHINee, and Monsta X had albums releasing within a week of each other. BTS albums alone are known for slowing down shipping lines when they drop, and “WINGS” had already broken their previous record by selling over 500,000 pre-order copies.
A simulation test to determine how a given institution, system, etc., would perform under greater than usual stresses or pressures.
My pre-order was placed on Oct. 4 and included four albums: BTS “WINGS,” SHINee “1 of 1,” and both versions of Monsta X “Guilty.” The last pre-order was set to close on Oct. 11, so I personally don’t consider the days before that as part of the waiting period.
In addition, all of the albums were considered reservations and included free posters for first press–a great deal you likely won’t find anywhere else. I paid an additional $3-4 USD to receive the four posters unfolded in a tube, but the posters themselves were 100% free.
Processing & Shipping
A decent chunk of time passed with no updates, and it was clear that KoreanMall was indeed swamped with orders. Checking their YouTube revealed that they had recently changed their logistics system and started using a third party for shipping, delaying the process even more. Not the best timing, but they’ve since taken responsibility for it and issued $5 in store credit to customers with delayed orders.
My order status eventually changed to “Prepare International Shipping” after a clear lag in the domestic shipping process of Monsta X’s albums, and a tracking number was later texted to me on Nov. 2. KoreanMall shipped via UPS again, and the package impressively arrived the very next day on Nov. 3.
The albums and posters arrived in one long package, which I appreciate since poster tubes can be damaged when shipped on their own. Unfortunately, the bottom edge of the SHINee poster was bent because it was a little too large for the tube. I also received two Monsta X Guilty posters instead of one Guilty and one Innocent version. Those issues don’t bother me too much since the posters were basically free, but they’re worth mentioning. All of the albums, AKA what I’d actually paid for, were in perfect condition.
KoreanMall usually has pretty outstanding customer service and, in the past, always answered my questions within 24 hours. Following the poster mix-up, I did shoot them an email on Nov. 7 just to confirm that I couldn’t get an Innocent version replacement. I was expecting a no (and that’s what I got, along with an apology), but it was a little surprising that I didn’t get the reply until Nov. 14. I’m not too fussed, but it’s an obvious indicator that they were still pretty busy trying to catch up on the backlogged orders.
So…the shipping was very delayed, as I expected. I found a lot of upset and concerned customers while I was keeping tabs on things, which isn’t surprising–KoreanMall went way over the estimated shipping times on their site. However, from what I’ve seen, popular stores like KpopMart and YesAsia also suffered a slow-down throughout October and early November.
KoreanMall ultimately delivered what I paid for in great condition, has the best prices around, and acknowledged their faults, so this was still a fairly positive transaction in my eyes. I might re-think ordering popular albums during such a busy time again until they prove they can handle the load though.