For my 21st birthday, my older brother, Ben, and I threw a party. One our friends, Lauren, brought over a karaoke machine. In the beginning, we thought, "What in the heck are we going to do with this? Nobody's going to use this thing." And we asked her, "Why did you bring this?"
I don't remember exactly what she said, but it was something that amounted to, "Trust me." Once people had a few drinks in them, the Karaoke machine became the absolute smash hit of my 21st birthday party, and every party we hosted afterwards. It may have seemed that way because it definitely became a smash hit with me. I loved that thing.
Korea has what is called noraebangs, which literally translates to "singing room," which is exactly what they are. They're everywhere. I've come to learn that since I've learned to read in Korean. Upon walking into the lobby of a noraebang, the attendant standing at the counter will lead the patrons to a private singing room, and included in these small rooms are usually a large couch, a table, and a Karaoke machine with a giant high definition flat screen tv and a high tech sound system. Each room will also have a couple of microphones, a thick book with a list of songs and a corresponding selection number, and a remote control to enter the selection. Noraebangs also include a pager to page a waiter/waitress to order food and drinks.
I wish I could adequately describe the fun that we have in these singing rooms. There is something about singing a great song that enables a person to let go of all inhibitions. I don't drink, but when that microphone is in my hand, all of those inhibitions seem to immediately leave, and I am free to have the time of my life. It's a lot like being drunk. At this point in my life, I can only imagine what karaoke is like while being drunk. Noraebangs are one of my favorite things here in Korea. Every time I've gone, I've never wanted to leave when it was time to do so. They're fun.
My friends and I went to a Noraebang last week for my friend, Greg's, going away party. This particular one served the Korean liquor of choice, soju, and fried chicken. We ate fried chicken, my friends drank, and we took turns singing on the mic for several hours that night. We started dancing on the couches, and none of us were good dancers. On the far end of this particular room above the couch was a large window overlooking a particular downtown street, along with the restaurants across that street. Patrons of those restaurants are able to see fairly clearly into our room through this large window. And it was funny seeing the looks we got from these Koreans staring at us. It was the unmistakeable stare, then laugh, that only stiff white dancers could elicit. And it was a stare, followed by a laugh, that could only be done by Koreans. Good times.
A k-drama that has recently caught my eye is one entitled, Heartstrings. The star of this show is an actress named, Park Shin Hye. Some of your comments seem to indicate that I must have a different taste than most when it comes to ladies. I honestly don't care. I am who I am, and whenever I see this particular lady on TV, I put the remote control down.
These photos are not mine. I downloaded them from various websites linked through Google Images.