The Best-Selling Albums in South Korean History - Part 9: 10-1

Continuing on from the articles of the past week, we step straight into the ninth and final part of our series of the best-selling albums in South Korean history.

Our list of the ninety-seven albums which have sold more than one million copies in South Korea - making them the best-selling albums in South Korean history - continues with the final ten entries: numbers ten through one.

Only one can take the crown - but which album and artist will it be?

The figures showcased in this series of articles were sourced from Wikipedia, and all album figures were correct at the time of writing.

10: Lee Moon-sae - When Love Passes By (2,850,000 copies sold)

Although “Standing Under the Shade of a Roadside Tree” might have only just missed out on making the top ten best-selling albums in South Korean history, singer Lee Moon-sae certainly didn’t.

His 1987 album “When Love Passes By” is his best-selling album of all time, and makes it to number ten on the best-selling albums in South Korea.

“When Love Passes By” has sold some 2.85 million copies in the thirty-five years since it was initially released.

09: Kim Gun-mo - Wrongful Encounter (2,860,000 copies sold)

Mentioned multiple times throughout the last eight articles in this series published, it’s the return of Busan-born K-pop and ballad singer Kim Gun-mo.

His third album, 1995’s “Wrongful Encounter”, previously held the Guiness World Record for the best-selling album of all time in South Korea - a title it held for some twenty-four years, and is the artist best-selling album to date.

“Wrongful Encounter” is Kim Gun-mo’s sixth album to make it onto the list, following other albums such as “Sleepless Rainy Night”, “Myself”, “Another Days”, “Exchange”, and “Excuse”.

“Wrongful Encounter” has achieved sales of 2.86 million copies, although claims have been made that the album has sold more than 3.3 million copies nation-wide, which would put it higher up at number four or five on the list.

08: BTS - Love Yourself: Her (2,954,091 copies sold)

It’s time for the long run of BTS albums that any K-pop fan knew was going to top out this list.

The first of these eight BTS albums to top the list is 2017’s “Love Yourself: Her”. The eleven-track album features two hidden tracks only available on the physical edition, including the eight and a half minute “Skit: Hesitation and Fear”, and “Sea”.

Meanwhile, the title track of the release - “DNA” - has gone on to be a major international hit, with the official music video being viewed more than 1.4 billion times on YouTube.

“Love Yourself: Her” has sold almost 3,000,000 copies, and comes in as the eighth best-selling album in South Korean history.

07: BTS - Love Yourself: Tear (3,043,866 copies sold)

Next up is the 2018 BTS release of “Love Yourself: Tear”.

Another eleven-track album from the group, “Love Yourself: Tear” features the dynamic songs of “Fake Love” and “Anpanman”.

While “Fake Love” has famously attained a total of more than 1.1 billion views on YouTube through the official HYBE LABELS channel, a comeback performance of “Anpanman” on Mnet weekly music show “M Countdown” has achieved the official Mnet K-POP channel’s highest viewed video, having been seen more than 180,000,000 times.

“Love Yourself: Tear” has sold more than 3.04 million copies, and comes in as the seventh best-selling album in South Korean history.

06: BTS - Butter (3,127,650 copies sold)

Steering away from the “Love Yourself” albums for just a moment, we take a turn to look at the group’s 2021 release “Butter”.

While the song “Butter” acted as BTS’ second English language release, its release as an EP with B-side “Permission to Dance” is what places it at number six on the best-selling albums in South Korean history.

“Butter” set four new Guinness World Records at the time of its release - it was the fastest YouTube video to reach 10 million views (achieving this in thirteen minutes), the fastest YouTube video to reach 100 million views (achieving this in twenty-one hours), became the most-viewed YouTube video in the first twenty-four hours (amassing 108.2 million views), and became the fastest video in YouTube history to cross the 200 million views record (achieving this in four days and one hour).

“Butter” has sold more than 3.1 million copies, and comes in as the sixth best-selling album in South Korean history.

05: BTS - Proof (3,210,892 copies sold)

The first so-called “anthology album” to be released by the Big Hit septet, “Proof” comes in as the fifth most popular album in terms of sales in South Korean history.

Spread across three discs, “Proof” contains some forty-eight tracks, most of which had been previously released on other BTS albums. With an impressive running time of some two hours, forty-eight minutes, and thirty-four seconds, it was headed by lead single “Yet to Come (The Most Beautiful Moment)”.

“Proof” peaked at number one in Australia (ARIA), Austria (O3), Belgium (Ultratop Flanders and Ultratop Wallonia), Canada (Billboard), Croatia (HDU), the Netherlands (Album Top 100), Finland (Suomen virallinen lista), Germany (Offizielle Top 100), Greece (IFPI), Hungary (MAHASZ), Japan (Oricon and Billboard Japan), New Zealand (RMNZ), Poland (ZPAV), Portugal (AFP), South Korea (Gaon), Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade), and the United States (Billboard).

“Proof” has sold more than 3.2 million copies, and comes in as the fifth best-selling album in South Korean history.

*Please note: As a popular recent release, figures for this album may drastically change, and the above figures were correct at the time of writing.

04: BTS - Love Yourself: Answer (3,312,635 copies sold)

We now return to the “Love Yourself” series of albums that have popularised this top ten list.

2018’s “Love Yourself: Answer” was a compilation album, with many of the release’s twenty-six tracks coming from previously released albums “Love Yourself: Her” and “Love Yourself: Tear”.

The album became the first Korean album to spend one year on the Billboard 200 chart, and - as of June, 2021 - has remained on Billboard’s main albums chart for one-hundred non-consecutive weeks.

“Love Yourself: Answer” has sold more than 3.3 million copies, and comes in as the fourth best-selling album in South Korean history.

03: BTS - Be (3,794,402 copies sold)

The fifth Korean-language album to be released by BTS, “Be” was created in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and was inspired by the group’s perspective of life during the pandemic.

“Be” saw the group’s members contribute to various aspects of the album-making process, including songwriting, development, production, and visual design. The eight-track album features the leading single of “Life Goes On”, and previously released hit “Dynamite”.

“Be” also managed to reach the top five on almost thirty international music charts.

“Be” has sold almost 3.8 million copies, and comes in as the third best-selling album in South Korean history.

02: BTS - Map of the Soul: Persona (4,558,075 copies sold)

It’s a massive jump in sales from the third to second places on this list, and an album whose sales are close to the first on this list.

BTS’ sixth EP - 2019’s “Map of the Soul: Persona” - featured “Boy with Luv”, featuring American singer Halsey, as its lead single. The album was the winner of Album of the Year at the 2019 Melon Music Awards and the 2019 Mnet Asian Music Awards. The album also won a variety of awards at the 2020 Gaon Chart Music Awards, the 2020 Golden Disc Awards, and the 2020 Seoul Music Awards.

“Map of the Soul: Persona” has sold more than 4.5 million copies, and comes in as the second best-selling album in South Korean history.

01: BTS - Map of the Soul: 7 (4,908,466 copies sold)

Here it is - the best-selling album in South Korean history.

Map of the Soul: 7” was the fourth Korean-language studio album by BTS, released in 2020 by Big Hit Entertainment. It acted as the follow-up to the previously mentioned “Map of the Soul: Persona”, featuring five of the songs from “Persona” on the album.

The album was described by the members of BTS as “deeply personal”, with the album being influenced by their journey and growth over the seven years since their debut.

Featuring twenty tracks, the seventy-five minute album saw the South Korean global superstars working with American singer Halsey, British singer Ed Sheeran, and Australian singers Troye Sivan and Sia.

“Map of the Soul: 7” was a massive commercial success, becoming the world’s best-selling album in 2020, and has sold almost 5 million copies, coming in as the best-selling album in South Korean history.

Have you listened to any of the albums listed above, or do you own any of them? Which of these ten albums are your favourite? Let us know by commenting on our socials @KpopWise. And thank you for reading this series of our list of the best-selling albums in South Korean history.

Ford Carter

Ford Carter is an online blogger studying journalism who's hundreds of articles across half a dozen fansites from the music and television industries have now been read more than 300,000 times. From his home in regional Australia, you'll often find him binging kdramas or rewatching old editions of the Eurovision Song Contest.

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