K-pop 101: Hanteo chart vs. Gaon chart

The logos for Hanteo and Gaon charts (Images via Hanteo chart and Gaon chart websites)
The logos for Hanteo and Gaon charts (Images via Hanteo chart and Gaon chart websites)

The two most important charts for physical album sales in the K-pop industry are Hanteo and Gaon charts. They calculate shipments and albums sold worldwide from South Korea.

K-pop's increasing popularity around the world is leading to a rise in Korean album sales internationally as well. Physical album sales worldwide have been revived by BTS. Earlier, to buy a K-pop album, one had to go through various websites, which would buy the album from South Korea and sell it worldwide.

With BTS' skyrocketing popularity, ARMYs wanted to make their music more accessible globally which led them to sign petitions, especially to stores like Target in the USA, to store and sell their albums. This is how BTS albums and then eventually K-pop albums started being shelved in stores of various nations.

What is the difference between K-pop charts Gaon and Hanteo?

For anyone who does not know, here is a simplified explanation of Hanteo vs Gaon vs Oricon

Gaon Chart

Gaon calculates the shipment of albums sold by distributors and record labels to retailers. These are estimates that show the popularity of the album and the artist. Shipments include stock orders placed by stores and websites as well as the reorders placed.

Sometimes companies distribute albums to various stores and websites but are sent back if they are not bought by individuals, and hence Gaon numbers can fluctuate. These are used for the calculations of year-end award shows, especially Daesangs (Grand Prize).

The distributor must be a member of the Korean Music Content Industry Association to be able to report the album shipments sent to retailers, to the Gaon charts.

Some distributors in the Korean music industry include Dreamus, Genie Music, Kakao M, and more.

Hanteo Chart

Hanteo calculates real-time sales for each purchase that has been confirmed and is not an estimate. Hanteo charts are used for music show calculations such as Inkigayo, Show Champion, Music Bank, and more.

Retailers need to have a Hanteo membership for their shops if they want their sales to be counted for the Hanteo charts. This includes South Korean stores and some internationally certified stores and websites as well.

Some Hanteo-approved shops include Aladin, Hottracks, Interpark, Ktown4u, and more.

Gaon vs. Hanteo Charts

Gaon numbers will always be higher than Hanteo numbers as the previous one calculates estimates of the shipment, whether or not the albums have been sold.

Both charts calculate albums sold by distributors in South Korea to retailers internationally. Albums shipped directly from Korean distribution stores to the USA can count for all Hanteo, Gaon, and Billboard charts. Sales via Amazon count towards the aforementioned charts as well.

Some companies have their own shops that sell albums to all locations internationally and in South Korea. The Weverse Shop that is under HYBE is one such example.

K-pop album purchases made from Weverse Shop, count towards Gaon and Hanteo charts. They count towards Billboard and Oricon charts as well, but only if those sales are made through the US and Japan shops respectively.

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Edited by Khushi Singh
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