Seoul Searching: Adventures in Noraebang

Brittney Neset is a student at the University of Minnesota, Duluth and an ISA Featured Blogger. Brittney is studying and participating in service-learning abroad in Seoul, South Korea.

Noraebang is very, very popular in South Korea. This past week I finally got to experience the magic that is a Korean Noraebang. A few Korean students brought some of my friends and I out to a Noraebang on Thursday evening. The easiest definition of a Noraebang would be Karaoke, but let me tell you that it’s way more awesome than just Karaoke.

Norae is equivalent to song or singing and bang is the Korean word for room. So if that doesn’t tell you what it is, here’s a little more explanation. There are millions of Noraebangs in Korea, and especially Seoul. It’s a popular place to go after clubbing once the subways have shut down, or to go on an evening with friends. A Noraebang is a room that you rent out, and depending on the place you go, there can be a bar within the Noraebang. Sometimes there are also costumes and tambourines that you can use while in the room as well.

Just like Karaoke, you pick out as many songs as you like and then sing your little heart out. You pay for the Noraebang room by the hour, so it’s best to have a few songs in mind when you get there so you don’t waste any time looking for what to sing. They have songs in Korean, Japanese, Cantonese, English, and a few songs in Spanish, so you’re likely to find at least something you know.

I decided to show off to my new Korean friends, and picked as many K-pop (Korean Pop) songs that I could. We sang 2ne1, Secret, SHINee, Big Bang, and a slew of other Koreans songs as well as Spice Girls, Green Day, and a few other English artists. The only hard part about Noraebang is the Korean. We were lucky and had native speakers with us to help us out, but I for sure would have struggled if they weren’t there to show us how everything worked. My other downfall were the K-pop songs I picked. Not speaking Korean made it hard to sing along with my favorite songs, but I belted out the English (and often times Engrish, which is poor English) phrases that appeared in the songs and then mumbled my way through the Korean parts. All the Korean parts of the songs were in Hangul, so I could have eventually read them, but the songs would have had to been slowed down by 500% for me to effectively do so!

Overall, my Noraebang experience was awesome! It has all the fun of Karaoke, but not so much of the awkwardness of being in front of a crowd. I will definitely be going again and again while I stay in Korea! Here are a few pictures from the Noraebang we went too. But since the Noraebangs aren’t usually well-lit since they have cool club-like lights instead, many of my pictures were too dark to post. There is a picture of all of the students I went with, a shot of us and the Noraebang, and then finally, myself singing a song.

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