Monday, March 29, 2010

A Korean Obsession: No Rae Bong

We took our first train ride to Yeongju where we went to hang out with our friends David and Sarah and have our first run in with No Rae Bong.
I had heard about No Rae Bong on a travel show before I came to Korea, but I had no idea what it really was all about till we came here. No Rae Bong is Korean Karaoke... but if you imagine what American Karaoke is like and picture it in Korea, you have only skimmed the surface of No Rae Bong. NRB is a countrywide obsession and Danny and I live actually live above one. We can hear an old man singing his heart out 6 out of 7 nights as we fall asleep and let's just say he's no Billy Joel. That doesn't stop Koreans from singing though, they sing if they sound like Celine Dion or if they are tone deaf. Danny and I were lucky enough to have our first experience with NRB when we crashed the birthday party of a random Korean girl named Subin, and these are some of the pictures.
NRB is different than American Karaoke in a few ways. Most NRB places let you rent out your own room to sing your heart out, you really don't sing in front of a large group at all. They have a TV and a mic and you can sing with other people or rent it out on your own when you need a little music fix. I have heard of many Koreans going to NRB by themselves after they have had a hard day at work, or my fellow teachers like to go after a few bottles of Soju. I have asked the question, "Why do Koreans like to sing karaoke so much?" and this is the answer that I feel makes the most sense: they work long hours and live in a culture that is very "proper" and has a lot of hierarchy and history to it so KRB is one way they can let loose. They can melt all their cares away by singing "Oh!" or a Girl's Generation song. Just imagine all the serious businessmen getting into a N Sync song at home and you can sort of get the picture ; )

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