Instant noodle packets containing NCT Dream photocards are being torn open and returned to the shelves in Indonesia

Lemonilo’s promotional picture with K-pop boyband NCT Dream. Photo: Instagram/@lemonilo
Lemonilo’s promotional picture with K-pop boyband NCT Dream. Photo: Instagram/@lemonilo

NCT Dream is one the most popular K-pop groups in Indonesia, and numerous brands in the country have appointed the group as brand ambassadors to promote their products, including healthy food startup Lemonilo.

If you’re into K-pop, you’ve likely heard of photocards, or PCs, which have become some of the hottest commodities in the genre’s fan culture in recent years. Brands have been including PCs of their respective K-pop idol brand ambassadors in their products as a bonus for stans. Lately, Lemonilo has been including NCT Dream PCs in their special edition instant noodle packets.

There is, of course, an element of luck involved and fans don’t always score PCs of their “bias” — meaning favorite member — in NCT Dream, which consists of Mark Lee, Renjun, Jeno, Haechan, Jaemin, Chenle, and Jisung. Sometimes, an NCTzen or Czennie, as the fanbase is called, might not even pull out a PC featuring an image of an NCT Dream member, and only end up with a card containing a healthy lifestyle tip.

As PCs are sought-after collectible items, fans have flocked to their nearest minimarkets and supermarkets to buy Lemonilo’s instant noodles. In the past week, however, videos have gone viral showing that Lemonilo instant noodle packets had been torn open and returned to the shelves, with the PCs inside gone. The videos have attracted outrage and disappointment by NCTzens and K-pop fans in general.

“NCTzen please don’t be like this. I don’t know who did this but this is so harmful. I was shocked when I went to Alfamidi to buy Lemonilo x NCT Dream earlier. See how [the noodles] end up looking. The products were destroyed and what’s worse is the packaging was holed up just so they could check the photocard [inside]. Please, take pity on the shop’s employees. Be smart please,” the tweet above reads.

“Although I’m not an NCTzen, but I’m sorry, I went to Indomaret to buy snacks earlier. When I browsed around the store, I went to the instant noodles section. You know what? I saw the employees throwing the opened Lemonilo noodles packets into the trolley, and when I was about to pay I also saw several of them at the cashier. So NCTzen, please don’t be like that, I feel so ashamed, you can at least buy the noodles, don’t just leave them open,” another user tweeted.

Lemonilo issued a statement urging for common courtesy among customers, while apologizing to those affected by the actions of a discourteous few. The brand did not say if they would pull the special edition noodles in light of recent events.

While it may be easy to lay the blame on a few bad apples among NCTzens, they may not be the only group who is coveting the PCs. In Indonesia, it’s common for Kpop fans to hunt for PCs and other promotional items of bands that are not necessarily their favorite, with the intention of trading the items with actual stans.

Amid the controversy, a number of NCTzens have offered a less intrusive method for PC hunting that doesn’t involve cutting the packaging open, as such:

Essentially, you can peek inside through the transparent edge of Lemonilo’s plastic packaging. Do exercise caution not to crush the dried noodles inside and ruin somebody else’s dining experience.

NCT Dream, a group of seven, is the subunit of 23-membered boy band NCT (Neo Culture Technology). It has quite a large fanbase in Indonesia that’s mostly made up of Gen-Z people or younger. 

Prior to Lemonilo, NCT Dream has performed for and promoted Tokopedia on the e-commerce giant’s monthly shopping event, WIB (Waktu Indonesia Belanja) multiple times since early last year. The latest brand to name them as ambassadors was popular skincare brand Somethinc featuring five members of the group, as Mark and Haechan — who are also members of NCT’s Seoul-based subunit NCT 127 — have been acquainted with a Korean beauty brand.

NCT Dream debuted in 2016 with a single titled Chewing Gum. They were intended as the teenage unit of NCT, with the members’ age averaging at 15.6 years old at that time. The group has no official leader, though the oldest member Mark has been referred to as the leader or captain by his groupmates.

Additionally, Mark initially “graduated” from NCT Dream as he turned 19 before returning to the group, as the graduation system of the subunit was eliminated. After successful comebacks last year with their first full-length album Hot Sauce and its repackaged album Hello Future, NCT Dream is reportedly gearing up for a comeback in March.

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