What is a noraebang?
I get so sad when I hear veterans of Camp Humphreys (been here 1+yrs) ask this. There are so many people here at Camp Humphreys who have never enjoyed the pleasure of singing in a small room with friends they barely know while eating rice-cracker-things and drinking maek-ju, beer. Noraebang’s 노래방, song rooms or song halls, are buildings with many small rooms equipped with karaoke machines and often tambourines or other
instruments. Friends get together after a nice dinner and sing for a set amount of time then go back out to the night life to eat again somewhere else. I am always impressed by my Korean friends abilities for non-stop eating.
My husband and I volunteer at the Pyeongtaek International Exchange Foundation (PIEF) where we host a Talk Cafe. For two hours, we chat with Koreans in English and help their conversational skills. Our students come from all walks of life but are usually involved with Americans from Camp Humphreys. I shouldn’t call them students since most of them are older than me so we’ll just go with the Talk Cafe gang.
Our Talk Cafe gang was incredibly kind to take us out to dinner one night and to go to a noraebang afterwards where we were introduced to So-Maek, which is beer with a shot of Soju in it. It’s delicious, fun to make, makes singing much easier and comes with a killer headache in the morning. It’s my new favorite drink.
Noraebangs are everywhere in Korea and I mean everywhere. Where there is food there will be a place to sing and to use up all those calories you just packed in. The song book had every English song a karoke bar should, the selection was amazing. While listening to our Korean friends, I knew that heavy metal wasn’t going to be there thing. The husband picked Jeremy by Pearl Jam and it was a big hit. Everyone stood up to sing along and to bash the tambourines. Damn those tambourines were loud.
So it’s surprising that I tried to pick Chop Suey by System of a Down for the last song of the evening. You’d think I would have figured out that no one wants to yell into the mic. Luckily, the husband convinced me to do Creep instead and that was the perfect ending to the night. Everyone had such a great time but I’ll have to get some Americans in there with me next time to do some screaming.
The highlight of the evening, beside me downing 3 so-meks in a row, was singing Barbie Girl by Aqua with the husband. I sang Barbie and he sang Ken, we were perfect! I think our Korean friends were very confused but still enthusiastic. Get out there and try a noraebang, you and your friends will have a great time and it’s another way to enjoy the culture.