Korea is obessessed with “bang”
The flashing neon lights in the sleepless city Seoul seem to carry a common ending word, 방.
Just exactly what is a 방?
Literally meaning a “room”, the Korean word 방 (pronounced as bah-ng, not baeng) is associated with a variety of things. Let’s take a look.
1. PC 방 (PC bang) a.k.a LAN gaming shop
Essentially equipped with computers and internet speeds of the highest quality, this is a room where Koreans gather to play computer games or spend hours surfing the internet. Step into one and you might see Koreans camp at their seat playing MMORPGs (Massive Multi-player Online Role Playing Game) like Lineage and Maple story or FPS (First Person Shooter) games like Sudden Attack (called “Sudden” for short in Konglish) for hours and hours on.
2. 노래방 (Noraebang) a.k.a Karaoke /KTV
Koreans really know how to party up for a Karaoke session. Normally, each Korean noraebang would be equipped with tambourines and various other “props” for friends / coworkers to use to boost the atmosphere while people sing. Some rooms even come with “disco lights”. ^^
3. DVD 방 (DVD bang) a.k.a Rented Video viewing shop / mini theater
DVD rooms is a great choice to watch all the movies you have always wanted to watch but missed in the cinema when they were still showing at your own privacy. The costs of going to it is around 15,000 won. So if you have a couple of friends to go together with, it’s essentially cheaper than going to the movies.
4. 공부방 (Gongbu bang) a.k.a Study Rooms
Cram schools ain’t enough for this hard working nation. In Korea, study rooms featuring tiny study cubicles allow students to fit more cramming into their busy schedule right before the examinations or a major test. You can also find and use free study rooms like this in universities for free, as long as you have a student pass from that particular university. They also come in small rooms with a big table for group studying.
5. 게임방 (Game bang) a.k.a Board game/ console game cafe (Note: They can also be combined with DVD bangs and be called multi bang 멀티방)
Nintendo Wii, PS4, Kinect 360, apart from the usual arcade rooms in Korea (which are really cheap to play), these rooms feature super wide screens with consoles allowing friends or couples to play together even if they don’t own one at home. However, the government has recently proposed to ban young children and teenagers from entering the premises to preclude gaming addiction. ^^;;
6. 찜질방 (Jjimjil bang) a.k.a Sauna / Japanese-styled hot baths
Like their Japanese counterparts, Koreans really love their hot saunas and steam baths. The Jjimjilbang features various baths of vastly drastic temperatures (from 5 degrees celsius to 50 degrees celsius), and normal hot baths. The procedure is to strip down to your birthday suit, take a quick shower like those in the swimming pools, before entering the baths and then to the saunas to sweat it out. Not to worry ladies, the male and female baths are separate though it might still take a while before you get used to facing so many naked strangers in one place. Some ahjummas might even offer to scrub your back for you as long as you scrub theirs too.
7. 만화방 (Manhwa bang) a.k.a Comics Reading room
We’ve always known about manga (Japanese comics), but did you know the Korean Manhwa is also on the rise in popularity? With webtoons like Kubera, Dice, Noblesse being subbed into English and Chinese nowadays, it is no surprise that these long scrolling online comic strips are finally reaching the global audience and becoming a hit since they are all in full color. The traditional black and white paper back manhwa has taken quite a hit from the online serialized comic artists, but we still see these comics reading rooms around in Korea since they are popular with the older generations who prefer reading paperbacks than scrolling off their tablets.