New Fashion Trend Among Korean Teens-Million Won Headphones

First spotted around the necks of the most popular Korean idol groups, expensive over-sized headphones have now become the must-have fashion accessory on the streets of Seoul. The most coveted item are Beats by Dre, headphones that are not yet available in South Korea and must be ordered from America, resulting in a price of over ₩1 million.

Parents and netizens have reacted with shock and protest, saying that expensive headphones have become just one more ‘spinebreaker’ [등골브레이커], meaning a painfully expensive must-have item that schoolchildren demand of their parents. Other spinebreakers include North Face down jackets and jackets from the two most popular outdoor brands in South Korea today, Canada Goose and Moncler. Among the fashion-conscious, the two brands are now known simply as ‘Camon’, (Canada Goose + Moncler), [‘캐몽’,나다 구스 + 클레르].

From Money Today:

‘Mom, Buy Me the G-Dragon Headphones’..Those Headphones are 1.3 Million Won (~1225 USD)?

[Endless New Spine-breakers ②] ‘Dr. Dre’ Headphones, 300,000 ~ ₩600,000 (~283 to 566 USD)···Special products cost ₩1.3 million

When Ms. Lee, 45, went online to purchase the pair of headphones that her middle-school daughter wanted, she was shocked. She imagined that they would be around the price of the earphones she used for her Walkman during her childhood, but times have changed. The set of headphones that her daughter wanted was worn by a popular idol group member when he recently appeared on TV. These premium brand-name headphones sell for around ₩1 million (USD $944). Lee felt burdened by the cost, so she reasoned with her daughter and bought her a cheaper ₩500,000 (USD $472) pair.


These are ‘spine-breaker,’ a new term coined to describe the recent phenomenon of parents struggling with the demands of their children for expensive brands such as Canada Goose, Moncler, and now Beats by Dre. The cost is said to be so painful that it twists the spines of parents.

Premium headphones, which started gaining popularity two to three years ago when popular singers and actors wore them on stage, have recently become a hot fashion item among young people. Big Bang members G-Dragon and T.O.P., JYJ member Yoochun, Lee Jong Suk from the TV Drama ‘I Can Hear Your Voice,’ and Lee Minho from the TV Drama ‘The Heirs’ have endorsed these headphones after wearing them on stage.

Looking at the prices of premium headphones that young teenagers have been wanting, ‘Dr. Dre’ brand headphones, which have been been worn by Big Bang’s G-Dragon and T.O.P., average around ₩300,000 to ₩600,000 a pair. These special headphones are only sold in America, so they sell for as high as ₩1.3 million online. The pair of Sony headphones that Lee Minho from the TV Drama ‘The Heirs’ became popular after he wore them on the show. Its price ranges from ₩300,000 to ₩500,000.

There are also comparatively cheaper premium brands. Shure headphones, which have been gaining popularity recently, have some products that are in the ₩100,000 (~94 USD) price range. Frends headphones, which became famous after Girls’ Generation and Tiara members started wearing them, have some products that sell for around ₩200,000.

One earphone and headphone shop owner said, ‘These days many teenagers come here with their parents to buy premium headphones. The Dr. Dre products are especially popular. A variety of colors such as pink and red were released, so female students really like them.’

An earphone and headphone shop official said, ‘Among the various brands of headphones, teenagers prefer the expensive ones. Some students don’t even look at the cheap brands.’

Another earphone and headphone shop official stated, ‘Teenagers want products that provide good sound quality and serve as fashion items. Therefore, many teenagers recently are turning to expensive products that look pretty and have great functionality.’

As expensive premium headphones are gaining popularity, so-called ‘imitation’ products are also pouring into the market, so caution is advised. Last year in October, a group of nine Koreans were caught after selling more than 15,000 Chinese-made imitation ‘Dr. Dre’ headphones worth ₩4.8 billion (USD $4.5 billion) over the internet.

A Korea Consumer Agency Official stated, ‘Nowadays, when consumers are involved in damage cases, they fill out a form and put it into a database. There have been a few damage cases concerning ‘fake headphones.’ If data gets piled up, the businesses reported to the Fair Trade Commission will get sanctioned.’

The official emphasized, ‘Consumers must be fully aware that in case they unknowingly purchase a fake product, they can ask that company for a refund up to three months after the purchase.’

Comments from


‘She reasoned with her daughter and bought her a cheaper ₩500,000 pair.’ Is it okay to laugh? In my opinion, she should be slapped to her senses.. If that brat twists her spine, she buys it for her. Whatever she says, it’s like this.. Sigh

Fukc누리당님 (responding to above):

Let’s smack politicians and journalists first and then talk.

신짱갑니다님 (responding to above):

Parents that buy those things on a whim are crazy

민서아빠님 (responding to above):

The journalist is crazier… Articles that cleverly advertise headphones are really displeasing

Singer Hyuna wearing headphones

Singer Hyuna wearing headphones as a fashion item


₩500,000 is cheap?!

삼덕동가수님 (responding to above):

Comparing a ₩1.3 million set of headphones with a cheaper ₩500,000 one… Can teenagers even tell the difference in quality between a ₩50,000 pair and a ₩500,000 one?? A ₩50,000 pair is good enough.

Since 1982님 (responding to above):

I think ₩50,000 is expensive. If the sound quality is good enough, I’m fine with it.

바비캉님 (responding to above):

Honestly, I can’t afford ₩50,000 headphones,, However, those kids are not using the headphones to listen to music, but just to show off. What a waste.

일렉티카님 (responding to above):

삼덕동가수님’s ignorance is very apparent. The younger someone is, the easier it is to sense difference in sound quality. I thought this was common knowledge… Whether a amp with high ohms is used or not is more crucial. The source is more important that the output equipment…. When I wore Sennheiser headphones as a teenager, I could definitely tell the difference.

Prices for Beats on the Korean internet

Prices for Beats on the Korean internet


What in the world are those kids that show off their money while walking around sporting Dr. Dre’s thinking… I’m curious if there’s cement deposited in their ears [if they have gone deaf]. These headphones are not even as good as ₩100,000 earphones. ke Do I dare say that imitation ones have better sound quality?

sOuLmAtE님 (responding to above):

It’s because of the loudness war… Music that reduces dynamic range is everywhere, so even when you wear Dr. Dre to listen, it sounds good. The sense of space for Dr. Dre headphones, which doesn’t have open-types, somehow feels… Although the open-types also don’t have much sense of space either..

승재군님 (responding to above):

These headphones have the worst price performance ratio, right? Even some of the ones that are over ₩100,000 are at that level of performance.

에슬릿님 (responding to above):

There is music that’s suitable for the Dr. Dre headphones. You only listen to crap music, so you don’t know that, right?

이승환님 (responding to above):

It’s a preference… ke ke. Dre just isn’t my preference ke ke


It started with Canada Goose and now it has come all the way back. ke ke ke ke ke

 Canada Goose jackets sell for as much as 650 CAD/₩670,000

Canada Goose jackets sell for as much as 650 CAD/₩670,000


I can understand how the kid’s feels…
If you see everyone else with it, you want to have it, too…
But the mother who reasoned with her daughter and bought a ₩500,000 set of headphones is crazy…


Use the ₩17,000 LG Quadbeats. Perfect for people with hearing problems like you.

유령물고기님 (responding to above):

Exactly why I bought it when I lost my previous earphones… I don’t like it~~ Especially because while it is a kernel-type earphone, its soundproof capabilities don’t work at all~!! I have to wear them switched around in order for them to not fall out~ ke ke. If I wear them properly, I can listen properly, but they just fall out~ The sound quality was really awful in the beginning, but now it’s a little better.

Miss U님 (responding to above):

ke ke. You must be feeling better after that.


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