Monday, January 2, 2012

Karaoke/Noraebang in Seoul

Went out the karaoke (ie. noraebang) a few times in Seoul and this was the first one at one of the karaoke places inside COEX Mall.  They've got a number of small rooms all with lots of 'decorative' graffiti on the walls and the mirrors of the room.

The most striking and obvious difference between karaoke in chinese establishments (in cities like NY, Toronto, LA, HK etc) and with korean ones is the remote for song selection.  It was to much bemusement to find a huge slab bigger than an iPad to use for picking songs.  One of the easier ways to look up korean songs is by typing out the song names using the strokes of the korean alphabet - especially if you know the song you want but are a slow korean reader like me (and would take forever to find the name of the artist).

It was also to a bit of amusement to find that you get rated for your performance at the end of each song.  Looks like I didn't do too badly!

Among the numerous noraebang we saw in the Myung Dong area, there was apparently even one, everysing, owned by SM Entertainment (record label for artists like BoA, TVXQ etc).

Among the more curious places where I stopped to sing was was at Dongdaemun market.  Once you've had your fill of shopping and are ready to give your voice an exercise and your feet a rest, you can take a stroll down one of the alleys leading behind Migliore and Doota to find various malls and shops in the back alleys. Here, I had just stopped into a shopping center looking to buy some souvenirs when, off to the side, I spotted a row of booths inside what looked like a gaming section of the shopping center.  Walking closer, I realized the booths were 'music studios' - mini-booths for singing karaoke!!

Without further ado of course, I jumped into the booth to start singing:

Songs are selected based on inserting coins much like a coin-operated arcade machine.  Prices are 500 won per song which was really quite reasonable (about 50 cents/song).  Booths are actually quite small with seating on either side of the door, comfortably seating two and tightly seating four people.  These booths are actually quite convenient if you're looking to only sing for a short time.

Even more amusing than the noraebang I visited in COEX mall where they evaluate your singing at the end of the song, these booths even had real-time cartoon characters off to the side that change while you sing =P

While staying at the Courtyard Marriott Time Square, trips down to the mall were frequent.  So before long, I had located a gaming center on one of the levels of the mall beside the movie theatre.  There were lots of arcade games to play, with a far wider variety and selection of games than your typical arcade studio in the US.

Of course, a certain type of booth caught my eye:

The music cube was essentially quite similar to the Sense studio I had visited earlier, again using coin operation.

As for the evaluation of my singing, it goes without saying that I should quite my job and become a recording artist =)  Move over Super Junior!

The funniest part of this particular arcade were the questions they lob at you after each song.  Given that my korean sucks, it was basically a guessing game to get to the next song.

Now I really can't wait to see how the karaoke places are in Taiwan and Japan!

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