What are PC Bangs like?
Before you start asking, PC Bangs are Computer Cafes or LAN Gaming Centres in Korea. Unlike those in other countries, these shops provide the high quality computers and internet connection.They also come equipped with snack bars (Cup Ramyeon a.k.a instant noodles in a cup and soft drinks go for a couple of dollars), catering to those who plan to stay there for long hours. Despite all the conveniences provided, their rates are usually about $0.93USD per hour. If you thought that was a great deal, with memberships, prices even drop to as low as $0.37 USD/hr!
PC Bangs are ubiquitous in Korea, due to a variety of reasons. With gaming heavily integrated into their culture, these Internet Cafes have been considered a common place for students and young working adults. Normally, people come to these LAN shops with friends to play together, or just casually hang out as the place contains pretty much anything you would need. Aside from that, the popularity of these shops could have been heavily influenced by game producers themselves! Providing extra benefits via exclusive items or bonuses in earning in-game cash. Though this may be shocking, most gamers would easily pay a bit more to obtain them.
With the strong presence of games within the country, themed PC bangs have appeared. Some Bangs have focused their design and decorated their shops to look more like the game they wish to advertise. Here’s a small list of the possible themes:
- First Person Shooters (FPS) – the likes of Sudden Attack
- Mass Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGS) like MapleStory or World of Warcraft
- Casino styled gaming based games
However, not all things are sweet and rosy. These PC bangs are also infamous for housing the homeless. This is because the hourly rate is ridiculously cheap in comparison to rent for normal housing. On average, they cost roughly $670 USD a month. Furthermore gaming addicts, usually in their mid 20s to early 30s camp at these shops, constantly on the screen for hours and hours to come. They’ve been shunned by the community and have been labelled rejects, locally they are known as Invalids. (폐인 废人 paeh-in, pronounced somewhat like the English word ‘pain’)
Some PC Bangs tend to turn a blind eye, with regards to the law. With so many popping up, law enforcements can’t really do much to regulate them. Smoking is actually illegal in PC Bangs, but as this law was recent, not many Bangs follow them. Instead they installed a thin (and ineffective) glass wall and allocate a portion for smokers.
Gambling is also illegal in Korea, but game makers have found loopholes. By using in-game currency rather than actual cash, the police can’t do much. Online Gostop or Hwattwo (Majhong or Domino) are ridiculously popular due to the limited supply, and these PC Bangs are the ones to provide them.
Then again, these are probably the less regulated types. So worry not! If you do ever want to visit one, try asking around or observe the environment. Should it be not satisfactory, there are plenty more within the area!