Korean “방” (“Bang”) culture

In Korean, “방” (“bang” – pronounced as “bahng”) means “room”.  In the Western world, “room” usually refers to some private spaces used by restricted groups of people, e.g., dining room, bathroom, bedroom and living room at home or conference room at the office. However, in South Korea, you can find a lot of “방” (“bang”) which are places for public entertainment. Let’s talk about some of them in this post.

찜질방 (Jjimjilbang)

In Korean dramas, you can often come across Jjimjilbang which is the Korean-style sauna house. Apart from enjoying the sauna, spa and massage, people can also relax and chat with families and friends, enjoy snacks and drinks, watch the TV, or just sleep on the floors.  Some big ones may also have other facilities like fitness gym and karaoke.  So, it is a favourite place for Koreans to enjoy their leisure time with families and friends.  As the Jjimjilbang is open 24 hours a day, some tourists who arrive early in the morning (when the shops are not yet open and the hotels are not yet ready for check-in) may go to the Jjimjilbang to take a rest first.  You may get a glimpse of the Jjimjilbang by watching this video.

노래방 (Noraebang)

This is another type of “bang” often seen in Korean dramas.  Noraebang is the Korean-style karaoke and is a favourite place for families, friends and colleagues to hang out with each other.  As you may see in some Korean dramas, after the boss and his staff have finished the dinner, they often go to the Noraebang to have fun together. The Noraebang offers songs in different languages, e.g., Korean, Chinese, English, Japanese, etc.  So, you may still enjoy yourself in the Noraebang even if you are not a Korean speaker.  One interesting feature of Noraebang is that after you finish a song, the screen will show your score – however, from my experience, this score does not seem to have anything to do with your singing talent and it seems that you can score a very high mark by just keeping on screaming words into the microphone. You may get a glimpse of the Noraebang by watching this video.

PC방 (PC Bang)

PC Bang is the Korean-style internet cafe which provides computer facilities and internet access.  Instead of enjoying coffee in a relaxed way, Koreans usually play computer games in the PC Bang. People who don’t have access to computer and/or internet at home may also make use of the PC Bang.  In some Korean dramas, you may see some kids being caught by their parents or teachers playing computer games in the PC Bang instead of going to school or studying at home.  As some kids are not allowed to play computer games at home, they may do so in the PC Bang.  As the PC Bang also offers food and drinks which you can eat/drink in your own seat, you can spend the whole day surfing the internet and/or playing the computer games in the PC Bang if you wish.  You may have a quick tour of the PC Bang by watching this video.

DVD방 (DVD Bang)

You can watch movies in DVD in private rooms in the DVD Bang – you just pick the DVD movies and then watch them in the room assigned to you.  Apart from Korean movies, there are also movies from other countries for you to choose from. Watching movies is one of the favourite pastimes for Koreans and is also a favourite activity of dating couples.  As the rooms in the DVD Bang offer more privacy than the seats in the cinema, many dating couples like to go to the DVD Bang to watch movies together. You can have a quick look at the DVD Bang by watching this video.

멀티방 (Multibang)

As indicated by the prefix “multi” in the name, the Multibang provides a variety of activities which you may enjoy in different types of “bang” in one place, e.g., watching TV/movies, singing songs with karaoke machines, playing video/computer games, surfing the internet, etc.  Like other types of “bang”, the Multibang offers snacks and drinks so that you can spend the whole day in it if you wish. You may get a glimpse of the Multibang by watching this video.

Have you been to any of the above “bang” in South Korea before?  If not, you should try to do so when you are in South Korea to experience the Korean “bang” culture.

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References:

Seoul Bang-Culture“, VisitSeoul.net, 2015-08-04

Keith Kim, “Wondering What to Do in Seoul? Try These Very Korean Activities (Bang Culture)“, Seoulistic

6 thoughts on “Korean “방” (“Bang”) culture

  1. Great posting!
    But the trendy ‘방’s are missing.. I’d like to add up.
    1. 방탈출 (Room escape) : Room escape game. First, you choose a theme and story. You’re being a detective and you’re allowed to escape from the room after solving all the mysteries.
    2. 방털기 (Robbing a room) : You actually pay to rob the room and compete with other players. Top players who earned most from robbing in limited time get the monthly prize.
    3. 보드게임방 (Board game room) : Many board game rooms are becoming board game cafe nowadays.
    4. 분노방 (Anger room) : You can destroy things like microwave, dishes, cups, mannequins in 1 hour. You can express your accumulated anger as much as you can while you use this room. Of course you enter the room with your safety helmet.
    5. Other sexual related rooms (Kiss room, Ear cleaning room, Cosplay room, massage room …)

    The reason why we Koreans have so many different kinds of rooms and cafes(indoor entertaining facilities) is that young generation can’t earn enough money to have their own place so teenagers and 20s don’t have a privacy. Basically because we are living in a small country with a high population density, the real estates are so expensive. And young people have to save their earnings for their future house. Moreover, it takes time to get a job nowadays, young people hardly afford a deposit and a rent. Almost everyone spend more than a year to get a job after graduating a university. So we need a place to hang out with our firends. Inviting friends or a partner is a big thing in Korea because that includes introducing them to my parents and that can be uncomfortable to both parties. Especially when it comes to introducing your partner to your parents, it’s not weird your parents to think you guys are thinking about marriage. It depends on, but more than 50% of Koreans think like that.
    So, those room businesses are taking money from offering a private place to spend time with your partner or your friends. DVD room is also one kind of a sexually related room because most of the visitors are young couples who wanna spend their private time there. No one goes there to watch a dvd. Ppl go there to kiss and fuck..
    And cafe culture is also definitely a thing in Korea! You can even get a foot care from doctor fishes in a cafe. We have everything but served with coffee or other beverages.

    Like

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