Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bong Hits

There are a few different kinds of bongs here in South Korea:

1. Noraebong

Number one past time of drunk foreigners and Koreans alike, noraebongs are all the fun of a karaoke bar with the added bonus that instead of embarrassing yourself in front of an unknown number of strangers, it's just in front of your trusted friends and drinking buddies.

Alex, looking classy and Korean at the Luxury Noraebong near Sherlock Academy. Note the random Korean music video in the background that has nothing to do with whatever song we'll eventually sing.

You can usually get mediocre Korean beer to keep your buzz going, as well. At the end of each song, you get graded on a scale from (presumably) 0 to 100. The scores are always a bit inflated. Anything less than a 90 and you should really be deeply ashamed.

2. PC bong

There's this thing called Starcraft, maybe you've heard of it? MMOs in general are pretty big in Korea, and so PC bongs are just as omnipresent as noraebongs. They're also handy when you're out and need to quick email someone, or double-check directions in a message someone sent you on Facebook, which I've had to do on more than one occasion. PC bongs are the reason that Koreans don't really use their hi-tech gadgety cell phones to cruise the Internet or use instant messaging programs: the fees to do so on a cell phone are outrageous and it's just cheaper to find a PC bong while you're out and about.

"Bong" translates to something like "room" or so. In that respect, calling a PC bong a "bong" is kind of misleading since, unlike the noraebong, you don't get the privacy of your own room. It's just one giant cubicle farm.

3. DVD bong

DVD bongs are the sketchiest out of the three; quite often they're a front for amorous Korean couples and other sorts of illicit rendezvouses. Like the noraebong, you pay for the privilege of privacy, as well as the entertainment—though this time it's a DVD instead of a karaoke machine. But if a cuddly-looking couple shows up and checks out the extended edition of Fellowship of the Ring, well, they might not be interested in hobbits.

4. Jjimjilbong

This is Korea's take on a sauna, though a bit more extensive. They're cheap, open 24-hours, and the large ones often include amenities like PC bongs, making them the perfect "staycation" option for lots of Korean families. They're segregated by sex, but there's a co-ed section as well (clothed, of course). I have yet to go to one of these but I'd like to try it out sometime.

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