Angela Young, a South Seattle local who launched a full-time business called Magic Shop in Seattle, which hosts K-pop events around the city • Photo by Chloe Sarmiento

When most people think of “cupsleeves,” they usually envision the paper disposables wrapped around their morning coffee. However, to the K-pop community, cupsleeves are part of a wider phenomenon.

A cupsleeve event is a themed event, usually hosted at a cafe, where fans of a particular musical artist or piece of media go to receive a specially designed cupsleeve when they purchase a beverage.

In South Korea, cafes host cupsleeve events for everything from the anniversaries of beloved K-pop groups to the birth of Jesus Christ. They have only recently migrated to the U.S., though — a trend that K-pop fans have spearheaded.

Angela Young is one such pioneer.

Young is a South Seattle native who has grown a passion for organizing cupsleeve events into a full-time business called Magic Shop in Seattle (MSIS). The name refers to the BTS song “Magic Shop,” which describes a place of refuge that comforts those who are in pain.

Young hosted her first cupsleeve event in February 2020 at the now-closed Eastern Cafe in the Chinatown International District (CID). The event centered around “SOPE,” the collective name for the duo composed of SUGA and J-Hope from BTS.

“When we were planning it, we weren’t expecting much, you know?” said Young. “We were like, okay, let’s just get together. We’ll just order food and have people come, and just appreciate whoever comes.”

200 people attended the event, and since then, MSIS has hosted dozens of others, attracting hundreds of K-pop fans from around the Seattle area. 

Young said getting MSIS off the ground was a difficult process full of trial and error, but she did it by relying on connections she already had within the city’s communities, specifically in White Center and the CID.

Cupsleeves from Magic Shop In Seattle in Seattle, Wash. on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024. In collaboration with Drip Tea and Kpop Nara, the cupsleeves are meant to be used before or after customers get a drink from Drip Tea, featuring artwork with K-pop idols • Photo by Chloe Sarmiento

The first official MSIS event was a scavenger hunt-style event spanning multiple weeks in July 2020.

The event encouraged fans to visit a different business each weekend, such as Oasis Tea Zone in the CID and Puffy Pandy in White Center, concluding with a gathering at Young’s Restaurant in White Center, which was run by Young’s family for 39 years before it was passed to the current owners.

“When I started it, I used all the resources I knew,” said Young. “I reached out to people I knew, and I just wanted to create a community of people. For me, K-pop was a really big thing, and it made me really happy, so I wanted to focus my energy on that.”

For years, Young kept MSIS afloat by reaching out to others, but recently, people have started reaching out to her.

That is how a recent five-day collaborative event between MSIS, Kpop Nara, and Drip Tea in Capitol Hill came about. The event ran from February 14 to 18 and celebrated Valentine’s Day and the birthday of BTS member J-Hope.

“We have not been in Seattle for a very long time, and this is the first K-pop store in all of Seattle, so we wanted to connect with somebody that already has a reputation here, and has already done events and been successful with it,” said Kpop Nara store manager Simone Davis. “Having Magic Shop in Seattle here has brought in a new customer base for us and more foot traffic from people who haven’t been in here before.”

MSIS has become an integral part of Seattle’s K-pop community, giving fans opportunities to make in-person connections.

A long-time K-pop fan and Seattle area resident, Candy Lamoureaux said she has attended almost every MSIS event since the beginning and has collected all the cupsleeves Young has ever released.

Lamoureaux credits MSIS events with allowing her to meet more K-pop fans and build friendships that have lasted to this day.

Angela Young assists a customer purchasing merchandise in Seattle, Wash. on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024. Young is the lead organizer for these collaboration event pop-ups and has hosted a handful of cupsleeve events • Photo by Chloe Sarmiento

“It’s a good place to just take a break from life and listen to good music,” said Lamoureaux. “K-pop fans come in all ages, races and backgrounds, and we’re here to bring other people into a supportive circle.”

Although MSIS has primarily focused on BTS-related events, last year Young began branching out MSIS’ merchandise and events to include other K-pop groups.

“I like to do things from my heart,” said Young. “That’s why I’ve done BTS so many times. Now, I’m starting on a path of ATEEZ, so maybe this year, I’ll do some ATEEZ members.”

Young is also experimenting with new event premises. 

On February 10, she hosted a merchandise trading event where K-pop fans gathered to buy, sell, and swap K-pop merchandise face-to-face. The trading event was followed by a 21+ K-pop social hour with alcoholic drinks served — the first event of its kind hosted in Seattle.

In 2024, Young hopes to continue hosting events and giving back to the community.  “I wanna be able to create things that people can remember, that people will talk about for the next year or so,” she said. “Something that will change their life. That’s why I keep doing it.” 

For updates on events and MSIS’ other activities, check out MSIS’ Instagram or website. 

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