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If you’re visiting Korea or living in Korea for more than a short time, it’s inevitable that you’ll find yourself at a noraebang, or singing room. These rooms are one of the most popular things to do on a night out and can be found all over every city in the country. Follow these rules for a fun night out at the noraebang.
This also applies to the second mic. It’s alright to sing along to a few songs you didn’t pick. But every single song? Give someone else a chance.
If you’re a ballad singer, that’s fine, go ahead and sing your sorrows out. But remember, most of the time people go to a noraebang to have a good time. With Koreans this sometimes means screaming into the mic, dancing like a fool and smashing a tambourine on their hand: stress relief Korean style. To make sure everyone has a good time, be careful to mix up your song selection. Have something upbeat and exciting that everyone will have a good time with in addition to your sappy love songs.
The best Korean noraebang sessions have everyone involved, singing along with the songs and tapping the tambourine to the beat. Noraebang in Korea is best experienced as a group activity. That means you should be aware of the people you’re with. If everyone else seems distracted or bored, cancel your song and move on. No one will say it because they don’t want to hurt your feelings, but it will be appreciated.
Tip: This can also apply to songs with long bridges (no singing, only music). Most of the time, no one’s enjoying the fake keyboard sounds. They’re just waiting for the next verse (or song) to come on. To skip the instrumental, press 간주 점프 (ganju jeompeu).
Many people get excited when it’s finally their turn with the noraebang book of songs. You see songs you haven’t heard in ages and your favorite Korean singers from the 90’s and then jump at the opportunity to relive your youth. But if you’re sitting there with the book in one hand and the remote control in the other, entering six different songs in a row before anyone else has a chance to put one in, that means you’ll be singing for the next 20 minutes. Try to space out your song reservations so that other people have a chance to put their songs in as well. Two in row isn’t too bad, but hree might be cutting it close. Four and you’re pretty much a mic hog.
Some of you might not be aware such a button exists, but the 우선 예약 (useon yeyak) button allows your number to jump to the front of the list. Use it only with permission from the rest of the group. This cardinal noraebang sin is only forgiven when you’re about to leave and want to get one last song in or when everyone agrees on singing a certain song right away.
Language Tip — Buttons for the noraebang machine remote control:
예약 (yeyak) – reserve (find the song, punch in the number, then press this button to reserve your song)
취소 (chwiso) – cancel (for canceling songs)
우선 예약 (useon yeyak) – priority reserve (use to reserve a song for immediately after the currently playing one)
Update: And thanks to dustincolephotos.com for this great picture explaining the noraebang remote controls!