Wednesday, July 25, 2012


So, it has recently come to my attention that my friends and I are quite spectacular at norebang. What is norebang? 노래방 translates to "song room" and it is just that -- so think karaoke, but not at a bar in front of tons of strangers, but a private room with your friends/coworkers. AND WITH TAMBOURINES. I've been to a private karaoke room once, last summer in Austin at the Highball, so if you've been there, norebang is like that, but BETTER. 

The room rentals are decently priced, especially when you split the cost among the group. The rooms range in size, from a small one perfect for four or five people, to huge ones that can accomodate over twenty. After renting your room, you can order drinks and food (or break out the ones you've smuggled in), settle in to flip through the songbooks, and then sing your little hearts out. 

Just look at that big book of songs! And the tambo! 

Typically, norebang seems to be a popular after-bar activity. They're open late and they're a good place to go as you sober up a bit. Or, it's the place to go once you've had a fair bit to drink and you've lost all fear of singing in front of your friends. They're so, so easy to find. I'm pretty sure I can't spit in my neighborhood without hitting a norebang. Just look for big ol' glowing signs like this in pretty much ANY area that has bars. 

Thank you, random site, for the stock norebang picture. 

Before coming here, I haaaaaated karaoke. I remember actually telling a friend once that if she tried to pull me up to the stage, she would literally have to drag my lifeless body as I had every intention of going into dead-weight mode. Here, it's different. Not only do the Koreans take it REALLY seriously, but it somehow isn't nearly as embarrassing. Maybe that's the makgeolli speaking, but having a private, dimly lit room with fancy disco lights and tambourines makes this pretty damn awesome. 

I believe this was during our rendition of "Build Me Up Buttercup."

Once, after a work dinner, by boss actually led the entire staff (Koreans and expat-teachers) to a norebang room, where I got to watch my normally quiet and polite (and one that I would actually describe as meek) Korean coworkers belt it out. And rap! And dance! Even my boss sang a few songs, and was very insistent that everyone participate. 

That's Mr. Kim there on the left, holding the microphone. 

At one point he was really concerned that I hadn't done a song yet. Sadly, Mr. Kim missed when one of our Korean staff, who knows I'm a dancer and also that I know some choreography to "Thriller," played it I could dance for everyone. So, that was interesting. Talk about a team-building exercise. Especially since we were all far from drunk. 

Yeah, it was awkward.

Recently, among my friends, norebang has taken on a dresscode: pajamas. 

Striking a pose on the sidewalk. And yes, Corey is wearing a fanny pack.

Why, after a long night (or day) of running around Seoul for shopping and hanging out and eating, stay in your going-out clothes? I'm not sure who among my friends started this trend, but I'm backing it 100%. (But this is coming from the girl who would happily stay in pajamas 24 hours a day.) 

We're into it. 

Singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" like professionals, nice and comfy in our pjs.

So, it turns out that the girl who never sings is completely into acting the fool and belting out a medley of 90's pop (and some classic oldies, obvs) with her friends on the weekends. Not all the time, as norebang as a tendency to kill my voice and throat ("go big or go home" is my approach to public singing), but it's definitely become a Korean hobby that I've embraced. 

Also, so much dancing! Really, you can't help yourself. It's infectious. 


  1. Love this one!
    Love you!

  2. Haha I always wanted to try going to a norebang! Especially since I adore kpop and could belt a bunch of songs by heart ♥ but there are none by me, sadly... BUT one day im going straight to Seoul where i know for sure ill find a million!! ^^