Gaon vs Hanteo (AKA: KPop Music Charting Explained In Simple Human)


(Kell’s interjections     Seoul’s interjections)

So your favorite KPop artist is coming out with a new album and you want to help them, support them, and show them all the love they deserve… but where to start? [You mean besides smothering their SNS with emojis and loving memes? Okay. Where to start after that.]

You’ve likely seen the words Hanteo and Gaon thrown around… but what’s the difference? And why are they so important in KPop?

There are tons of super long, overly technical blogs around the web that lay out all the infinitesimal intricacies of Gaon and Hanteo charting…

But why is it so hard? And what matters most when buying KPop? What about the easy explanation?

“There’s an easy explanation?” [Yes, Tamaki, We’ve got your back.]

Take a deep breath. We here at KpG are going to make this as simple and painless as possible. [We like to leave the pain where it belongs, on our scalp when we’re snatched during a comeback. Or in our wallets. *broke KPopper sob*]

Hanteo vs. Gaon


If you are new to KPop, there are two main charts in Korea that record physical album sales; Hanteo and Gaon.

The rundown is this:

Hanteo Charts are a record of individual album sales from approved stores and websites. In other words: “we absolutely know a person bought this and can prove it”. In KPop, Hanteo charts are used more than Gaon for performance stage votes on the network circuit (such as Inkigayo, Show Champion, and so on).

Gaon Charts are shipment sales (how many stores stocked their shelves with the album, did the store place reorders, individual sales from websites, etc.). Almost all sales will count at some point towards Gaon (resales and bootleg copies excluded, of course). Gaon Charts are  used more than Hanteo in factoring end of year awards (like Daesangs). This is because Gaon shows continuation of popularity and interest.

Because Gaon includes store sales as well as individual, Gaon numbers will always be higher than Hanteo.

Think of it like Hanteo would be used for more accurate bookkeeping, and Gaon shows how popular the album is currently.

What Does This Mean For You (AKA: Where To Buy)

If you absolutely want to guarantee your physical album purchase counts in Korean charting, don’t purchase from Amazon or EBay. Yes; there are storefronts that claim their “sales count towards Hanteo and Gaon charts” (and some of them may… especially for Gaon), but there also numerous sellers that just add that tag to boost sales and aren’t approved sellers at all.

KpG UPDATE: As of 28 August 2017 Big Hit announced they now have a contract with Amazon Prime for the North American market. Sales will count towards Hanteo, GAON, and Billboard. This only applies (for now) for their newest album and only if you purchase through Prime. Not through an independent seller/shipper.

Sites that count towards Korean charts:

Honorable Mentions:

  • Synnara — We’re demoting Synnara to the honorable mention category strictly because the site itself is just so daggone horrible. Ordering can be… complicated (especially for a newbie). The one plus is sales do count in real time; so as soon as you order, the number is reported immediately.
  • G-Market — This site is essentially the eBay of Korea. It’s a completely reputable and a decent site if you’re shopping for merch, but please note: sales do not count towards Hanteo from individual sellers or independent stores and not all will count towards Gaon. If you are going to purchase off G-Market, please do so from an official shop only such as Synnara.
  • Mwave (Mnet) — Mnet album sales definitely count towards Hanteo, and it is one of the few places you can get a legit autographed album from your faves. However, we’re not convinced they don’t use actual snails to deliver (or maybe the shipping department is run by sloths). Whatever the case, be prepared to wait a while for your album to arrive at your door.
  • Direct sales from the company. Some groups have their own site where you can order directly from them (like BTS, formerly Super Junior, etc.). Most of these shops also do direct reporting, but they don’t offer the international shipping discounts that other stores do for purchasers outside of Korea. [Who are we kidding? We all know that shipping is possibly the most important factor in where you buy something. And free posters! Don’t forget the free posters!!]

Less than Honorable Mentions:

  • KTown4U (aka DvdHeaven)- Apparently, whether or not sales count towards Hanteo has been brought into question more than once. The best answer that most seasoned KPoppers can agree on is sometimes orders count towards Hanteo. Apparently, there are times when; for some reason, KTown4U is considered a 3rd party site.  (Example: the Great EXO Japanese LMR Fiasco of 2015). Also  worth noting… they are known for selling items that are out of stock without giving proper notice and taking months to ship them (or not at all if never restocked) as well as having some *ahem* “issues” with customer service.

HotTracks Sidenote:

You might see notes about awards and such counting HotTracks charting. This is an in store sales chart for physical album sales (as in you stood in line and bought it in Korea). Since most of us aren’t flying to Korea to purchase our albums, there’s not really anything an international fan can do to contribute to the HotTracks chart.

Quick note on Japanese Oricon Charts

Japan uses their own charting: Oricon. Oricon charts only count sales made in Japan for Japan (in other words: no purchases that were shipped outside Japan will be counted). Purchasing Japanese albums will still count to overall album sales recorded by the Entertainment company, but will not be reflected on the Oricon chart.


Are Preorders or During Promotion Sales Better


We know that sounds odd, but the real answer is… both. Both are important for different reasons.

Preorder reporting can help boost Gaon sales from stores: if stores see an album has a high sale rate prior to release they assume “this is going to be popular” so the store orders more. High sales during promotion (once the album has dropped) shows “wow this really is a hit” and helps with Hanteo charting for network stages on the promotional circuit (Music Bank, M!Countdown, etc.).

As long as you buy your album from a Hanteo approved site, it will help your group… regardless of when you buy it.

The Wrap Up (aka: tl;dr)

Gaon charting measures popularity and counts all sales including ones that sit on a shelf in a store. Gaon numbers will always be higher than Hanteo.

Hanteo charting counts only sales they absolutely, 100%, with out a doubt can prove was bought by a real person. If you buy from a Hanteo approved site, your sale will count for both charts.

And that’s it.

Our easy-peasy All-You-Really-Need-To-Know to understand KPop music charting. If you have any more questions, drop us a comment below and we’ll do our best to answer.

In the meantime…. have some cake.


[Also Ouran High School Host Club. That also solves everything.]

13 thoughts on “Gaon vs Hanteo (AKA: KPop Music Charting Explained In Simple Human)

  1. Seriously really helpful article! I bought directly from YES24 since they offer DHL shipping instead of EMS, which is extremely expensive for international orders to the U.S. I remember they charged only 1/3 of the EMS delivery fees when I got my album before.

    YES24 is one of the three official sites that my bias group GOT7 recommended on their official account, meaning they will definitely count towards Hanteo and Gaon. Not only their Korean site is pretty easy to navigate for a non-Korean speaker with the help of the web page Google Translate function, they also have a global site in English. They sell the album for the same price for both Global/Korean sites. Would totally recommend YES24 for cheaper shipping but as an official site that will count sales real time.


  2. We have never heard of this site before. We tried to do a little digging but couldn’t find anything that suggested they were a Hanteo Family Shop. Our guess is no, they don’t count for Hanteo. Sorry.


      1. It does appear they are claiming to be Hanteo family. It bothers us that their FAQ is empty (where you would usually find Hanteo info) nor is prominently displayed anywhere. Since this is an important question to kpoppers, if they are actually affiliated it is usually easy to find.


  3. I remember reading this guide very helpful! Kpoptown was a good site, but you cannot even contact them if you had an issue. This has been the case since I had sent them a question and complaint last year. They have yet to answer any of my questions, but they will take my money when I order from them, so clearly they are active, but apparently not willing to fix any method of contact with them. They have no other way except form or email or sending them an actual letter. My next step is sending them a letter, but in this day and age they should at least respond to email or the contact form. That is the main issue this time I did not think of buying from them. Oddly enough ktown4u actually responds from last time I had an issues with them. When I first read about it here I thought it would be the opposite way between the two websites.

    Question though…so does that mean if I buy from ktown4u it does not count towards the Korean charts?


    1. KTown4U usually counts to Hanteo (and thus Gaon), but sometimes it doesn’t. And the why and when of that has never been properly explained by KTown4U (although it seems to more likely to affect non-Korean releases). To our knowledge this hasn’t been an issue from 2018 forward, but some of us are still wary due to previous years.

      Thanks for your notes on Kpoptown. Happy Kpopping.


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