[Seo Jae-won’s Celebration] Pokemon Buns: The K League’s ‘Card Craze’

■Panini trading cards with player photos, information, and autographs; 5,000 packs sold out in 30 minutes; 1.2 million packs sold in three weeks; exchange and trading culture established; limited edition collection released this month

K League Panini trading cards. Photo courtesy of the Korea Professional Football Association

A booth selling the K League Baseball Panini Trading Cards at Gangneung Sports Complex on March 26. Photo courtesy of the Korea Football Association

[Seo Jae-won’s Blessing] Pokémon Bread: The K League’s ‘Card Craze’
Mickey Mantle’s rookie card sold for 16.7 billion won, the highest price ever for a sports card collectible. AP

[Seoul Economic]
Last August, a rookie card of legendary New York Yankees slugger Mickey Mantle shocked the world when it was auctioned for $12.6 million (about 16.8 billion won), the highest price ever paid for a sports collectible. Overseas, trading cards have become a culture and an industry. According to a report by global market research firm Research and Markets, the U.S. sports trading card market was valued at $4.7 billion (KRW 6 trillion) in 2019 and is expected to reach $6.2 billion (KRW 8 trillion) by 2027.

In Korea, trading cards have been the domain of collectors. In the sports card segment, Daewon Media has been producing baseball cards since 2018, but they have not received much attention. However, the “K League Panini Trading Cards” released by the Korea Football Association and Panini, an Italian global sports card brand with more than 60 years of history, on March 1 have become extremely popular among fans, showing the potential for success in this new market.

Just as Pokémon Buns have sparked a collecting craze, so has the K League of Legends. The 5,000 packs pre-sold on the 7-Eleven mobile app last month sold out in 30 minutes, and the additional 15,000 packs sold on the 26th sold out in less than two hours. A representative from 7-Eleven, the official distributor of the card, said, “Since the official launch, a total of 1.2 million packs have been sold,” and that the card “took over the top spot from Random Tomika, a minicar toy that has been the number one selling toy in the toy category since 2020.” 카지노사이트원

The current version of the League of Legends Panini Card is the “Retail Collection,” an entry-level card that is easily accessible to people of all ages. The 1,000 won Retail Collection, which comes with two cards per pack, includes 100 popular K League 1 players such as Sejingya (Daegu) and Lee Seung-woo (Suwon FC), seven K League legends such as Hong Myung-bo, Dong-guk, and Lee Cheon-soo, and K League 1 club emblems and K League emblem cards. Various options with different rarity are randomly included, such as ‘ultra-rare’ cards with player autographs. An official from the federation explained, “We planned to provide new entertainment for K League fans.” “We wanted to prove the value of the K League in the market and create content that can be easily accessed by all ages anytime and anywhere, not just on game days or in stadiums.”

[Seo Jae-won’s blessing] Pokémon Bread: The K League’s ‘Card Craze’
K League Panini trading cards. Photo courtesy of the Korea Professional Football Association

[Jae-Won Seo’s Celebration] Pokémon Bread and the K League’s ‘Card Craze’
Panini exchange zone at the Pohang Steelers’ home stadium on the 16th. Photo courtesy of Pohang Steelers

The popularity of K League Baseball’s panini cards has led to a new culture called ‘card trading’. Online soccer communities and social networking services (SNS) have been posting their own Panini cards, offering to exchange them or selling rare cards. According to the Pohang Steelers, a total of 200 cards have been exchanged over the past 10 days through their mascot’s social media accounts. Pohang also set up a “Panini Exchange Zone” at its home game against Suwon FC on March 16, where fans can trade freely.

Following the popularity of the Panini cards, the league will release a high-end, limited-edition card, the Prism Harvey Collection, later this month. It will be a completely limited edition with no additional production, and will be sold exclusively at K League stadium merchandising (MD) shops and dedicated card shops offline and online at Mushinsa. “The initial sales of the Panini cards have exceeded our expectations,” said a representative from the federation, “It’s still early days, so sustainability is important, and we are planning various cards to meet the needs of our fans.”

Factors that determine the price of a sports trading card include the card’s storage condition, year of production, and rarity. A player’s name value is also an important factor in determining value. It is not inconceivable that a K League Panini card that made its debut in the domestic market could be traded for hundreds of millions or billions of won decades later.

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