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Noraebang - Singing Rooms

Noraebang - Singing Rooms

On an exploratory wander through most Korean neighborhoods, you will likely stumble across one or more signs with the following lettering: “노래방” (usually written vertically on a neon sign).  This lettering is pronounced as “no-rae-bang” (with the “a” in the final syllable being pronounced more like a short “o”).  The literal translation is “singing room”, and it literally IS an establishment which consists of several rooms, each lined with comfy padded benches or sofa-style seats and each equipped with a karaoke machine,  a couple of microphones, one or 2 song menus / catalogues and usually at least one tambourine for good measure.

So, what exactly does one do in a noraebang?  Usually, you would visit such an establishment with friends, co-workers, or family.  The purpose is to go create a little fun by singing together –or to continue the fun as a “next stop” after the bar.  In any case, alcohol consumption beforehand is by no means required. Singing rooms are available at almost all hours of the day or night.

Upon arrival, you are shown to a room for which you will be charged by the hour.  At this point, you tell the attendant how long you intend to stay  (usually one or 2 hours, but 3 or 4 hours is not unheard of either).  You are then shown a menu for drinks and snacks, but you technically don’t have to order anything.  Some noraebangs include drinks in the hourly rate. Note, that it is acutally illegal to be in possession of and/or to consume alcohol in a no-rae-bang. Most establisments offer canned beverages that bear a striking resemblance to beer, but they are acutally  'beer-flavoured'. If a patron brings alcohol into a noraebang, the establishment's owner/manager can end up in seious trouble with the law. This does not deter all patrons.

Once installed in the 'room',  someone selects a song from the 'menu book', enters the code into the karaoke machine –and sings along. There are usually English options (and some other languages as well occasionally) to choose from - the English version sometimes has wording you won't recognise. If you are on your own or don't understand the Korean directions on the karaoke machine, you will find a translation of the terms under 'Activities - Activities Translations'.  People often dance along with the singing and the music. 

When your time limit has been reached, the machine will simply stop working.  At this point, if others are not waiting for your room, you may ask to extend for another hour.  Otherwise, you pay and leave.

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Last Updated on 2011-10-23

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