Whether it be a ‘me time,’ date, or group gathering, noraebang or Korean karaoke is one of the many fun activities to do in South Korea. Most Koreans of all ages enjoy chilling in a noraebang, so going at least once a week has become their ritual, especially for stressed-out people.
If you’re currently in South Korea, or perhaps you’re planning a trip to the vibrant country, we recommend you put noraebang on your bucket list to experience popular Korean culture.
However, it might be daunting for your first-time visit, especially since noraebangs have certain rules you should follow. To make everything easier for you, take this article as a helpful guide for the best noraebang experience!
From its meaning, locations and renting process to etiquette, we’ve got everything covered. We even included a list of songs you should definitely sing at a noraebang, so make sure to read until the end!
What’s A Noraebang?
The word noraebang is a combination of two words: norae (song) and bang (room), which literally means ‘singing room’ when combined. In South Korea, going to a noraebang is one of the popular ways to unwind after a long day. Usually, Koreans go to noraebang after hwesik (dining together) with friends or loved ones.
Fun fact: The first karaoke machine was invented in Japan in 1971, and it became popular in South Korea during the 80s to 90s, when K-pop culture began! That being said, it became a huge part of Korean life and culture.
A noraebang is a safe and fun place where you can sing your heart out as it has soundproof walls. It’s fully-equipped with a large video screen, karaoke system, extensive song list, microphones, couches, disco balls, and neon lights. All you have to do is to walk in, punch the songs you want to sing, and channel your inner K-pop idol!
Where To Find A Noraebang?
Finding a noraebang in South Korea is literally like a walk in the park. When strolling on the busy streets of Seoul, you’ll easily see 노래방 or 노래연습장 signs in neon lights.
Most noraebangs are located at entertainment areas like Hongdae, Gangnam, Apgujeong, and Myeongdong. High-quality karaoke services can also be found around numerous universities in Sinchon, where most people go to experience the vibrant nightlife.
How To Book A Noraebang?
Noraebangs offer early reservations for occasions, but they’re always open for walk-in customers. Usually, a noraebang’s rate ranges from 6,000 to 30,000 won (US$5-25), depending on the number of hours, persons, and the establishment’s service quality.
Most noraebangs are open 24/7. And fees are usually cheaper during the daytime, but prices are the most expensive late at night since it’s the best time to go to a noraebang.
Renting a room lets you and your friends enjoy singing sessions unlimitedly, meaning everyone can sing many songs within the rented hours. Some room services include props or costumes, while others are themed for the best experience. But ordering snacks and beverages is optional.
Sometimes, noraebangs give free 20 to 30 minutes when there’s no queue to use the room. This is called ‘seo-bi-suh’ or free service to satisfy their customers. In fact, you can even ask for it!
But for a cheaper alternative, a ‘coin noraebang’ is a great choice. This smaller singing room is perfect if you have a limited budget and you just want to sing a few songs as you only have to pay per song.
Before you enter a noraebang, you must know the basic noraebang etiquette to prevent accidental mistakes that could offend someone or spoil the fun. Here are the must-follow rules of noraebang:
What You Should DO in a Noraebang
- Put disposable covers on the microphones before using them.
- Prepare at least 3 to 5 upbeat songs that everyone could sing along with.
- Reserve songs in moderation.
- Be a good audience member by singing along.
- Always give the singer a round of applause after finishing a song.
- Have fun and get into the moment – grab the tambourines, and sing and dance to the song!
What You Should NOT DO in a Noraebang
- Don’t hog the mic – let go of the microphone when your song is finished. Never sing the song that someone reserved.
- Don’t sing the same song repeatedly. It could bore your friends!
- Don’t queue a series of ballad or sad songs.
- Don’t use the priority reserve button unless you have permission from the rest of the group.
You May Also Like: 15 Things Not To Do In South Korea
Popular Songs To Sing at a Noraebang
If it’s your first time singing in a noraebang, and you want to impress your Korean friends, below are some of Koreans’ all-time favorite noraebang songs:
- Big Bang – Fantastic Baby
- 2Ne1- I Am The Best
- PSY – Gangnam Style and Gentleman
- Girl’s Generation – Gee
- Super Junior – Sorry, Sorry
- SHINee – Ring Ding Dong
- Wonder Girls – Nobody
- IU – Good Day
- Sistar – Alone
If ever you want to sing songs that will showcase your voice, hit the dance floor, and heat up the crowd, here are some trendy K-pop songs that everyone will surely vibe with:
- Blackpink – Kill This Love, How You Like That, Lovesick Girls, and Pink Venom
- BTS – Fake Love, Butter, and Boy With Luv
- Exo – Monster and Love Shot
- TWICE – I Can’t Stop Me and Alcohol-Free
- ITZY – DALLA DALLA and WANNABE
- Red Velvet – Psycho
- IU – Blueming and Celebrity
- LISA – Lalisa and MONEY
- Nayeon – POP!
- Jennie – SOLO
If you’ve watched a lot of K-dramas, you’ve surely seen a scene where the characters go to a noraebang o Korean karaoke and go crazy all over the place. Looks pretty fun, right? It is indeed, especially if you have friends to dance and sing along with!
Noraebang is a great place to loosen up after a stressful study/work and express emotions through song and dance. It’s also a great spot to unleash your hidden vocal skills and overcome shyness to build confidence.
So, if you have the chance to experience a part of Korean culture, grab it and enjoy the moment!
We hope that you enjoyed reading this article!
Wanna know more about life in Korea? Read this list of 10 Korean superstitions!