If you like Karaoke, you’ll love a Noraebang…
The Korean version of a night out on the town usually starts with going to a bar, then moves to a different bar, then another, maybe one more bar, and one more, but almost always ends up at a Noraebang. If you visit a Noraebang at night you’ll almost always find middle-aged Korean men ranging from semi-sober to completely lights out, singing their hearts away and dreaming dreams of unreachable stardom.
But a Noraebang is not only for the drinking crowd, everyone goes there, including kids and foreigners (Foreigners especially seem to love these places though I’ve never been much of a Karaoke fan myself). So what exactly is a Noraebang:
Well ‘Norae‘ is the Korean word for song, while ‘bang’ means room. So a Noraebang is a Singing room. If you go to a Noraebang you’ll hire a individual room where you and your mates can stay for a few hours and sing karaoke. These rooms are fitted with large
sized plasma screen televisions, disco lights, and fancy, shiny karaoke machines with thousands of songs to choose from. The songs are usually listed alphabetically in a book that every room has. There’s a huge selection of karaoke stuff to choose from and just about any genre is covered, in both English and Korean songs. If you’ve got a favourite it’s bound to be there (unless you’re a weirdo that listens to some obscure form of atonal clatter).
Rooms have sofas and tables to relax on while two participants at a time can grab the microphones and start singing away. The mic’s usually have a nice echo effect on them which means even the most horribly false voices become bearable, but in general people don’t go to Noraebangs to sing pretty, just to sing their hearts out and have fun.
Drinks are available on request and delivered to your room in keeping up with true Korean convenience. Noraebangs can be great fun, especially if you like Karaoke style entertainment. Koreans seem to really love these places and they’re almost always busy. In fact, its such a popular form of entertainment that certain long distance busses in Korea are outfitted with Noraebang equipment! Imagine booking a bus ticket to the country, thinking you’ll have 3 hours of driving relaxation when, as the bus pulls away, an Ajumah (Older Korean woman)
jumps up, grabs the mic and starts dancing. And the whole bus joins in! Such is life in Korea, unexpected but always interesting.
Noraebangs are everywhere and there’s bound to be one close to your apartment (or where you’re going to live). So if you’re bored on a off day or afternoon, grab some friends and head to the Noraebang for some serious singing.