​S. Korean consumers immerse in nostalgia at home using retro-style products

By Park Sae-jin Posted : September 2, 2020, 11:36 Updated : September 2, 2020, 11:36

[Courtesy of G9]

SEOUL -- As K-pop sensation BTS entranced global music fans with "Dynamite," a retro-style disco-pop song that topped Billboard's weekly top 100 favorite song chart, South Korea's cultural society was seized with a nostalgic wave that boosted sales of LP players and other retro-style products.

Retro-style imitates trends, designs and features from the past. Various forms of culture including music, fashions and products have turned retro to capture the world. G9, an online shopping mall operated by eBay Korea, said in a statement on September 9 that sales of retro-style products in the first eight months of this year soared 150 percent from a year ago. Specific figures were not given. 

Consumers in their 30s were the main buying group accounting for 37 percent of total retro-style product sales, followed by those in their 40s with 35 percent. LP turntables were a favorite among retro-style consumers. Sales of vinyl record players rose 168 percent from a year ago and sales of analog-design audio systems including boom boxes were up 167 percent.

"I recently purchased an LP turntable audio system to play jazz music while I work at home," Park Han-sung, a 39-year-old businessman in Seoul, told Aju news. "I love the old and warm sound of LPs. The audio system cheers me up while I work at home due to COVID-19."

Consumers' interest in spending quality time at home while telecommuting or resting was well reflected in brisk sales of other products such as retro-style game consoles.

G9 said that sales of old-school game consoles from January to August have increased by 42 percent. In recent years, traditional Japanese game console makers Nintendo, Sony and Sega have released reinterpreted versions of their game consoles which gained popularity in the 1990s. The mini-version of consoles including built-in bestseller games was popular among consumers in their 30s and 40s who wish to relive their childhood memories.

The retro culture has created "Newtro," a hybrid word of new and retro meaning new products that were recreated based on their original retro forms.

Hite Jinro, a major alcoholic beverage maker in South Korea, released "Jinro is Back," a reinterpreted version of Soju that was contained in an original glass bottle made decades ago, in April last year. Soju is the country's iconic alcoholic drink. "Jinro is Back" became the bestseller this year and is very popular among young consumers. More than 300 million bottles were sold as of May this year.
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