Let’s Sing! Get to Know Noraebang

When people want to have fun with friends, are stressed, or just feel like singing they go to noraebang (노래방), which translates as “song room” and is a place for karaoke. Here are tips and tricks on how to enjoy them! 

Rooms in a noraebang are soundproof with remotes, songbooks, tambourines, microphones, screens, and comfy couches. People typically go in groups, but there are still those who choose to have a room to themselves.

Locations charge by the hour, and cost extra if there is a big group with “happy hours.” Happy hours usually start in the afternoon until early night time and prices can range from $20-$30 per hour. There are also “coin noraebangs,” which are more catered towards single or smaller groups that can charge based on the number of songs.

Korean karaoke appeals to all age groups as adults can stay late into the morning and drink. Each location has its own policy of bringing or buying alcohol from the building. Typically, alcohol like beer is consumed as opposed to hard liquor or soju. To keep minors safe from alcohol and late-night dangers, there are typically closing times for younger karaoke-goers. Snacks could also be sold by noraebangs with their own menus with foods ranging from chicken tenders to fries. There are also fancier places that could sell Asian food as special dishes. 

Even if someone is not fluent in Korean, many noraebangs offer assistance with romanization. Noraebangs don’t limit to songs in terms of language, offering songs from English to Japanese. Big songbooks can be found in the room with one half being in English and the other half written in Korean.

Some locations may not have certain songs but typically update with new, trending options. Many different genres are available from country to pop and ballads. There can be different versions of the same song, such as live versions or other song edition variations. Under the televisions, there are typically buttons with numbers to find the songs. 

For first-timers, the confusing part of noraebangs could be the remote controls as it is mostly in Korean. Although customers can look through the songbook and start with the numbers attached to the songs, it will take time away from singing. The most important functions to keep in mind are reserve, start, cancel, skip interlude, switching from Korean to English on the keyboard and language of songs.

The first step is to switch the keyboard by pressing Korean/English (한/영) and for the language of the song is the “nation” (국가) button. Songs can be found based on their title (제목) or artist (가수).

To start, (시작) should be pressed, and canceling is (취소) for songs. While it is possible to pick songs gradually, a way to save time is priority booking (우선예약). To finalize booking, (예약) must be pressed after priority booking.

Another way to save time is jumping (간주점프), which skips instrumentals or rapping and singing parts if desired. There are many more buttons on the remote, but the most used and basic ones are these nine buttons.  

While getting used to remotes and books in a different language can be hard, there are many options for customers speaking a different language. Karaoke is good for all environments and moods. Noraebangs are not just about the music, but are about a lively atmosphere. Tambourines, dancing, and cheering for friends or family is energizing activity. At the same time, someone is sad or stressed they can sing or rap their heart out. People go to karaoke to keep up their singing skills or can go after business — any situation is possible!

Have you gone to a noraebang before? Let us know in the comments below!

Written by Monica Park

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