Bang bang; Korean ‘bang’ culture

I’m in a dilemma, so I need your help!

I wonder if I should take my laptop with me or leave it at home. The laptop is five years old, misses two keys (‘a’ and ‘i’) and it’s getting terribly slow!

Should I take it with me? Then that means it could break down any moment when I’m in the Far East AND it means some extra kilos in my luggage too.

Should I leave it here at home? Then I have to either buy a new one there (but I read that it’s only possible to get Windows in
Korean) so I can use the free wi-fi or otherwise use the widespread ‘PC-bangs’?

For those who don’t know about the various ‘bangs’ in Korea, here’s a quick and interesting explanation (from The Rough Guide to Seoul).

A banging good time

University areas are a good place to get a grip on the “bang” culture that pervades modern Korean life. The term is a suffix meaning “room”, and is attached to all sorts of places where locals – and occasional foreigners – like to have fun. Below are a few of the most popular:

DVD-bang (DVD 방) Imagine a small room with wipe-clean sofas, tissue paper on hand and a large television for movies – if it sounds a little sleazy, you’d be absolutely right. Though people do occasionally come to appreciate plot, cinematography or Oscar-winning  performances, these places are more often used by couples looking for a cheap bit of privacy – going in by yourself, or with a person of the same sex would draw some baffled looks. Figure on around W11,000 per movie.

Game-bang (게임장) Filled with all manner of board-games, these rooms underwent a surge in popularity just after the turn of the millennium – a strange development, considering the country’s love for digital forms of entertainment – but don’t see many foreign guests. Note that they’re not really for kids, being café-style places better suited to young couples.

Jjimjilbang (찜질방) Popular with families, teenagers and the occasional budget-minded traveller, these steam rooms have a range of hot and cold pools, sauna rooms, an often a range of services from massage treatment to internet booths. Though they might sound dodgy, the reality is somewhat tamer; most are open all night, making them an incredibly cheap way to get a night’s sleep – prices tend to be around W6000.

Noraebang (노래방) These “singing rooms” are all over the country, even outside national park entrances, and are wildly popular with people of all ages; if you have any Korean friends, they’re bound to invite you to one before long, as noraebang are usually sam-cha in a Korean night out – the “third step” after meal and drinks. The system is different from what Westerners usually expect of a karaoke room – you don’t sing in front of a crowd, but in a small room with your friends, where you’ll find sofas, a television, books full of songs to choose from and a couple of maracas or tambourines to play. Foreigners are usually intimidated at first, but after a few drinks it can be tough to get the microphone out of people’s hands. Figure on around W15,000 per hour between a group.

PC-bang (PC 방) Even more ubiquitous in Korea are places to get online, which cost an almost uniform W1000 per hour. Despite the sheer number of such places, most of them still contrive to be packed, and incredibly noisy, thanks to the fact that everyone’s playing online games – you’re likely to be the only one sending emails.

Prices in euro: W11,000 = €7,42, W6000 = €4,09 , W15,000 = €10,21 and W1000 = €0,68, according to today’s exchange rates.

So, now you probably get the ‘bang’ idea. As you see, PC-bangs might not be a great idea! 😉 Many coffee shops have free wifi so a laptop might come in handy! For those living in Korea, is it possible to rent a laptop or something for cheap? Or what would be the best solution to my problem? Thank you kindly for your help! ^^

I’m a fan of jjimjilbang and noraebang (without the few drinks)!

Prices in euro: W11,000 = €7,42, W6000 = €4,09 , W15,000 = €10,21 and W1000 = €0,68, according to today’s exchange rates.

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8 thoughts on “Bang bang; Korean ‘bang’ culture

  1. I bought a laptop here in Korea after coming over with nothing. A Macbook Pro to be precise. VERY possible to use PC bangs until you find a laptop you like and YES you can and will get Windows in English if you ask 🙂

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    • Great! And the prices for laptops, are they normal prices? Thank you for the help! 😀
      By the way, I love your blog, it’s really fun reading it! ^^

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      • Thanks a million. Define the concept of normal? Its much cheaper then my home country, South Africa but would probably be a little more expensive than the USA on average. If you do your research and go to the massive electronic markets, you can get a VERY good deal. Stay away from Korean brands like LG & Samsung which are overpriced and look at Asus, Lenovo, Sony & Mac.

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      • Hmm normal: about W1,100,000 to W1,400,000 I think if I compare to prices here in Belgium 🙂
        Oh really? Well that’s good to know, thank you. So no Korean brands and to the electronic markets it is then! ^^

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      • You will be fine because the price of new, good laptops start around 800,000 won. So with your budget, you will pick up something high-end… Good luck!

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