All about the Korean “Room” (Bang) Culture
Rooms, or “bangs” as it’s translated into Korean, form a huge part of the entertainment industry in Korea. Koreans love to spend time with their friends, lovers or family in these rooms that offer much more privacy. Some of the most popular of these are places like noraebang (Korean karaoke), or PC bang, which is an Internet cafe where people mostly enjoy computer games.
This is probably the most common, and the most popular, form of bang in Korea. This is a place where people can sing their hearts out for a minimum of 1 hour (the time depends on the place). Usually, the noraebangs will charge per hour (costs about 15,000 won to 25,000 won per hour, depending on the area and the timing of the day).
The owner of the place may decide to give free minutes if the noraebang is emptier than usual at that time of the day, so it’s wiser to go in the afternoon if you’re really into singing!
You can find noraebangs literally anywhere in the country, but areas such as Hongdae, Gangnam, Sinchon and Sincheon have a very high density of noraebangs (generally places with universities or offices have a lot of them).
Note that the drinks/water that the noraebang have on sale are generally much more expensive than market price. You’d usually be quite thirsty after a few rounds of passionate singing, and you’d have no choice but to purchase these overpriced drinks (some places offer free ice cream though, which is always a plus).
Noraebangs are known to close very late, or don’t close at all (many of them run 24 hours).
One of the most luxurious and famous noraebang franchise is the SU Noraebang. While SU Noraebang offers great facilities, acoustics and a free flow of drinks and popcorns for just a thousand won, it is also special in a sense that it offers single-person-karaoke room. Usually noraebang is a place you go with your friends or colleagues, but if you’re really into singing and can’t find someone to go with, SU Noraebang is never a place you would feel awkward at. Here, and other noraebangs with modern facilities, you can even record your singing and have it sent to your email or your phone!
2. PC Bang
PC Bangs are also one of the most popular forms of “bang”s in Korea. These are like Internet cafés where users can use the computers for a fee (usually less than 1,500 won per hour, but depends on the area).
The computers in the PC Bangs are much faster than the average computers that are lying around in your house, which makes them perfect for graphic-intensive games that are popular in Korea such as League of Legends, Starcraft 2 or FIFA Online.
Food and drinks are essential in any PC Bang; many people spend hours in here so they would need sustenance to keep them going!
Same with noraebangs, you can find PC Bangs literally anywhere. The nearest PC Bang from you (assuming you’re in a city) is probably 5 minutes walk away.
3. Playstation Bang
This is very similar to PC Bangs, except that the computers are replaced by Sony’s very popular Playstation consoles.
But because Playstation consoles are much more expensive than computers, Playstation Bangs also tend to cost more than PC Bangs. For these, the cost varies a lot, depending on what type of games you borrow, as well as the area you are in. In general, Playstation Bangs near university areas (Sinchon, Kondae, Hongdae or Edae) tend to be much cheaper.
4. DVD Bang
DVD Bang is for people who want to feel the cinematic experience again, but the movie they want to watch isn’t showing in theatres.
Many of these facilities are equipped with large screens and state-of-the-art audio system. However, one thing to take note is that by law, minors cannot enter DVD Bangs.
At any normal DVD Bang, you can request for a title that you want to watch, but if the movie exceeds the time limit of 2 hours, you have to pay an extra charge. DVD Bangs have become less popular these days with the introduction of the no-minor-entry legislation.
These have become more and more popular these days. Given the nature of pubs (which are generally very noisy and rowdy, and gets worse as people become more inebriated), people want more privacy and peace, as well as the freedom to make as much noise as they want.
These room pubs are generally more expensive than normal pubs. There is usually no entry fee, but the menus that they offer are priced approximately 20-30% higher than what you would expect at a normal bar or pub.
Some room pubs also offer opportunities for people in different rooms to meet new people in other rooms.
6. Boardgame Bang
Boardgame Bangs or boardgame cafés have become incredibly popular in Korea, and isn’t that much different from the usual boardgame cafes that you would find in other countries. They offer a wide collection of different boardgames that you could probably spend hours on, together with food and beverages to refuel yourselves.
Boardgame bangs aren’t as common as other types of bangs, as they are a bit more niche than others and target a rather smaller, younger audience. You would find more boardgame cafes and bangs near university areas (Hongdae, Sinchon or near Ewha).
A popular boardgame café is Fun Café located in Sinchon.
The Multi-bang is a loanword from English; they offer a combination of many of the forms of entertainment mentioned above, such as console games, computer games, movies, alcohol as well as food and beverages. They have been decreasing in their popularity recently however, due to the regulation that disallows minors from entering these premises.
If you’d like to experience what a multi-bang is like, and would like to have a great time with your friends, you can check out Multi Plus at Hongdae!
That was a brief summary of the “rooms” culture in Korea. Hope you have a chance to visit some of them the next time you’re here!