▲ Those who would like to venture out and experience another form of Korean fun can visit many different "bangs" in Jeju. Photo courtesy Kim Gyong Ho
A Korean “bang”, pronounced with a short ‘ah’ sound, literally means “room”, but is often used to indicate a private place that individuals can rent to do any number of things- from renting DVDs to singing Karaoke. For many young Koreans, these private spaces serve as a place away from their traditional room at home. Most Korean families live together until their children are married, and these homes are usually quite small when compared with American standards. There are many bangs in Korea, so for those who would like to venture out and experience another form of Korean fun, but aren’t sure what’s out there, there are many options available.
Jimjilbang If you decide to saunter on into this communal-style bath house, be prepared to be stared at if you are not Korean. The jimjilbang plays a large role in Korean society, and you can usually find one just around any corner. The entrance fee is usually around 8,000W, and for that small amount you can do a lot more than enjoy dipping in and out of the hot and cold baths. After paying the entrance fee you can enjoy same-sex nakedness while scrubbing clean or simply relaxing in the sauna. You can then cover yourself with the provided uniform, to partake in the coed section of the facility, sometimes located on the second floor, which usually involves a place to enjoy some hot soup, beer and other snacks. Some jimjilbangs also have a PC center where you can use the internet, as well as a gym area. For approximately 20,000W, you can also get a massage. You can do all of these things day after day as long as you leave at least once and re-enter to pay the initial entrance fee.
PC-bang This is exactly what you think it is- a room full of computers. For as little as 1,000W an hour you can play games, search the net, and do basically anything your little heart desires on a computer. These are also open 24 hours a day. Beverages are often free, with the exception of liquor and coca-cola. Snacks are also available for purchase. Typically the customer will grab a card upon entrance and then enter the card’s ID number on their computer. Once the session is finished, the card is simply handed back to the owner who will explain what fee is owed. Sometimes package deals are offered, for example 10 hours for 7,000W.
DVD-bang The DVD bong can be viewed as a multi-purpose room. Not only can you rent the room to watch a movie but you can also play games, sing karaoke and access the internet—usually from comfortable reclining seats. The average cost is around 3,000W per person and most are open 24 hours. If you tell a Korean you visited the DVD bong they will usually follow the statement by asking with whom you attended. In a culture where teens and college students live at home ‘til marriage, the DVD bong has inevitably become the perfect date place to sneak a kiss or two.
Noraebang “Norae” is the Korean word for song or singing. So you are correct if you guessed that this is a room you can rent for your own personal karaoke entertainment. You also rent this room by the hour. The rental includes disco lighting, several televisions, song book, comfy seating, and even tambourines. Most noraebangs also provide a good range of snacks to keep up the energy levels of their singing customers.
Sarang-bang The sarang or “love” motels are pay by the hour. Guests pick a room, and no questions are asked. Foreign ladies, if you are ever asked if you are Russian, it is not because the gentleman is genuinely interested in where you are from, he would simply like to know whether or not you are for sale. Unfortunately, Russian women seem to have been given a certain kind of reputation here. Chances are he would like to take you to the sarang-bong. These rooms are not exclusively for couples; lone travelers or groups of friends looking for cheap lodging can also stay here. The rooms are cheap, and generally as clean as any other room you could rent for the evening.
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