Tuesday, 29 September 2009


If you’ve never experienced a norebang, there will forever be a tiny void in your soul.

I’ll try my best to paint the scene in your mind:

Picture a western karaoke bar. Now divide it up so that there are several small rooms rather than one communal room. In each small room there is a wall of TVs, several microphones, an array of small musical instruments, platters of fruits and nuts, and way too much alcohol. Koreans sure do know how to set the stage for a good night…

I’ll be honest. I was a little nervous when Mrs. Jeon told me that we were going to a norebang as a “teachers meeting”. I envisioned a standard karaoke bar with one uncomfortable singer in front of a room full of scrutinizing eyeballs. I was curious about the “norebang scene”, but I had hoped that my first experience wouldn’t be with a group of my co-workers.

I didn’t even have the chance to sit down before two teachers started singing. As it turns out, every norebang “vet” has what’s called a “number 18 song”. I don’t know why the number 18 was chosen, but for us Westerners this simply translates to “number 1 song”. Most norebangs have the exact same songs (with only one or two “top singles” pages that change), so the teachers already have their song codes memorized (which they enter into the machine to create a playlist). Once a song starts playing, everyone joins in. Some people grab instruments (the most popular is the tambourine), others grab the extra microphones, and others simply stand up and dance with the singers at the front of the room.

I was really surprised to see how many English songs they knew. The Korean teachers who I previously thought could only say “hi” and “thank you” in English flew through songs such as “Dancing Queen” and “My Heart Will Go On”. They also joined in as Jess and I sang “Hey Jude”, “The Sound of Music”, and “We Are The Champions”. 

Having everyone involved in the songs, whether it be through beating the tambourine, attempting to sing along, or dancing, all made for an extremely fun environment to let loose and have some fun. This was our first, and definitely not our last, norebang experience.

- Ken

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great evening! Can most of them carry a tune?