Gotta collect em’ all: Korean idol edition


Sean Siapno

Angelee Fabian carefully packs a photocard customer purchased from her.

Trading cards are seen everywhere. From cards of your favorite baseball players, to all sorts of Pokemon, there’s nothing like the feeling of opening card packs filled with the little wonders that are index-sized pieces of laminated cardstock. It’s no surprise the K-pop industry has adopted this kind of merchandise and that it’s a huge success among the fans.

Angelee Fabian is an avid collector of K-pop trading cards. More commonly known as photocards, she collects her favorite idols from her favorite groups: BTS and Twice.

While she is currently a second-year psychology student at Skyline, she hosts a trading/selling business through Instagram under the username @suitesana. She started this account after being inspired by her cousin.

“I started getting into more of Twice’s music, and after seeing my cousin’s photocard collection, it made me want to start my own.”

Shortly afterward, she discovered Instagram sellers and found herself amazed over how many photo cards existed for every group. With multiple purchases through her main account, she thought it would be more organized and safe to use an alternative account when interacting with various sellers. Suitesana was then born and became more than just an outlet to buy photo cards. It became a business.

There’s actually a specific kind of etiquette when it comes to starting a photocard-based selling/trading account on Instagram.

“Having information and rules is a must,” Fabian says. “In my Instagram bio, I have a link to my Carrd, which is kind of a personal website that allows me to put my information on there.

” This landing page is common among most traders and sellers. It lists out which groups they are primarily collecting, where they are based, proper instruction in contacting the seller, as well as their main forms of payment.

It is always important to check someone’s bio as it provides customers the proper way of messaging the trader/seller. For suitesana, she requires someone to send a heart emoji if they want to do a trade and food emojis if someone wants to buy photo cards she has up for sale.

“When I look through my dm’s, I check who messaged me first and who sent me the emojis I requested. Then I can finally show them video proof of the card they want. I usually flash a light over the card to show its condition.”

Being transparent with the card’s condition is something Fabian takes seriously. If the photocard has damages, she always notes it in the posts she makes.

Ada Chen, a customer of Fabian, bought a photocard that had a slight scratch on the card.

“Manufacturing errors happen all the time. Since she noted it in the post, I knew what to expect when the photocard arrived. It didn’t really bother me as I just really wanted this one card she was selling,” says Chen. “She also packaged the card more carefully so it wouldn’t have more damages.”

Fabian packages her trades and sales with utmost care. She places the card in a plastic sleeve and tapes it shut. For added protection, she places the already-sealed card in a toploader, which is essentially a tougher card holder. Lastly, she would tape the photocard onto a greeting card where she thanks the customer and gives them additional gifts related to their favorite groups. In the end, she ships out the product and notifies the customer that the mail has been dropped in the postal office.


Fabian’s packaging is extra secure with multiple layers of protection (@suitesana/Instagram)

“I was scammed for$18 dollars. I’m happy it wasn’t more, but now I’m more aware of red flags in trading accounts. This also helped me make my account look more official.”

Since this experience, she’s been able to have a total of over 76 proofs, which account for both trades and sales. This is a notable amount as people typically have more faith in accounts who have over 50 proofs.

“I’ve bought and traded from suitesana multiple times. Her account seemed trustworthy as it had a good amount of proof at the time,” says Reignelle Ramos, another customer of Fabian. “We both like Twice and we trade for each other’s favorite members.”

Ramos is just one of the few customers who’ve had a great experience with suitesana. She only does US transactions, but has already been able to interact with others from across the country. Everyone just wants to end up with the photo of their favorite idol. As groups continue coming back with new music and photocards, Fabian will continue to grow her collection as well as expand her account. Despite originating from a simple alt account, she’s proud of how far she’s come. “From my very first sale up to now, I still love seeing the notification that someone has received my mail.” With Twice recently announcing their upcoming tour, Fabian hopes to take some of her profit with the possibility of attending this concert. Even if it’s a small sale, there’s always something to gain as her proofs continue to grow, bringing more light into her account. These small pieces of laminated cardstock have easily become a huge part of her life as well as many others.