Going to a Korean Language School might have taught you what the word 방 (bang) means in Korean, but it probably didn’t prepare you for how prevalent the Korean word for ‘room’ is once you’re there.
While you experience the multi-story chaos of neon, chrome, and colour of a street, the word bang will start to grab your attention more than any other. In Korea, it is used as a suffix to signify a specific entertainment room. For example, one of the most common uses of the word is in PC bangs, which is basically just an internet cafe in South Korea. However, while that is a fairly obvious usage of the word, some are quite unusual.
Below are 3 different types of 방 (bangs) that you’ll encounter in South Korea!
1. Noraebang (노래방)
You might already be familiar with this thanks to many Korean drama scenes where the characters are seen singing and screaming their lungs out into the microphone. Because Koreans love to sing so much, this is a word that you’ll find yourself quickly acquainted with when you first visit South Korea.
Korean karaoke rooms (norae means ‘sing’) are arguably the oldest types of entertainment bangs ever. They are usually paid for by the hour and are often open until the wee hours of the morning. You also get a wide selection of songs, from Chinese to Japanese, English, and Korean songs. Often, a trip to these bangs includes indulging yourself in alcohol!
2. Screen golf bang
This room is pretty self-explanatory. In Korea, finding a place to play sports can be hard, especially a golf course. Neighbours do not take golf balls whizzing past their balconies kindly, and you would definitely want to avoid that. Thankfully, there are screen golf bangs where people can play virtual golf for a fraction of the usual cost.
As is the case with other bangs, the place is rented out by the hour and private, so you and your friends can make an entire evening or day out of it. Some even go as far as to bring actual golf gloves and clubs just for the sake of added immersion. Although if we are being honest, the house clubs should do just fine in these cases.
3. Jjimjilbang (찜질방)
Another popular bang in South Korea is the Korean bathhouse, also known as 찜질방 jjimjilbang. These bathhouses are the most popular during the winter as people come to congregate to warm themselves in the hot tubs and steam rooms, as well as the saunas. Some even have sleeping rooms as most of these bathhouses are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While originally intended as public bathhouses, many jjimjilbangs today also come fully stocked with other entertainment options, like in-house karaoke rooms, gaming rooms, fitness gyms, and the like.
Once you’ve learned how to recognize the word bang in South Korea, you’ll start noticing it even in the most obscure of places. You can explore other bangs like the 다방 (dabang) which is a traditional coffee house, or the pilbang where you can get calligraphy supplies.
With that being said, you should definitely give the bangs listed above a try the next time you are in Korea. If you’re interested in learning more about the Korean culture and language, enrol yourself in a Korean language course at Sejong Korean Language School. The best way to learn about any country’s culture is through its language.