The family ties in Korea tend to be very strong and the concept
of the family is extended materially to the bangs. Litterally translated,
a bang is a room where a small group of friends can perform a given activity in privacy. Typically rentable
for 1-3 hours, bangs come in all sorts of flavours from singing rooms (norebangs) to
drinking rooms (sojubangs). They can be found in most residential districts and generally offer interior decoration/theming ranging from good to very sophisticated. Here are some examples and typical costs.
Gongbu bang (study room). As its name implies, the gongbu bang is simply a small quiet room where a student can study. The cost is typically 1,000 wons per hour per person.
PC Bang (internet/game room). A room full of desktop computers where network computer games are played for hours by teenagers and university students, who should probably be studying instead in the Gongbu bang. Cost: 1,000-2,000 wons per hour per person. The computers have, of course, broadband access to the internet and could be used simply to browse the web - nonetheless the PC bangs are primarily used to play network games. Many PC bangs have an all-night rate of 5,000 wons. As a side note, PC bangs are very numerous / easy to find through their glowing neon sign "PC" and generally have excellent toilet facilities. Something to keep in mind should the need arise suddenly.
DVD Bang (DVD room). A private movie theater where 2-5 people lay on leather couches and watch a DVD movie on a big screen with surround sound. Included in the cost of the room, the movie is obtained on location (there's generally a fair supply of popular movies available including local, Hollywood, and Hong Kong productions). Cost: 10,000-12,000 wons for two persons for one movie - the cost increases linearly with the number of persons. The DVD bang is particularly popular with young couples seeking a private and romantic time to spend together. These establishments are easy to spot as they are advertised on neons with the term "DVD".
Soju Bang (soju room). A vodka-like drink which tastes rather bitter, soju is the traditional liquor of Korea. A sojubang is a room where one aims at ingurgigating as much soju as possible while preferably being in the company of friends. Regrettably for some and agreably for others, soju can be obtained nowadays in all sorts of flavours such as cherry, lemon, pear, etc. It is advised that should it be drunk in its original form, soju might appeal only to the strong men - or those who wish to be.
Da Bang (tea room). A small room where coffee or tea can be consumed. These were particular popular during the Japanese occupation (1910-1945) as they were places where
friends gathered and discussed topics that might have entailed undesirable consequences if heard in public. Mobsters have been known as well to use the tea rooms as gathering spots. Although they are still around, the da bangs are much less popular than they used to be due to the proliferation of the coffee shops and the PC bangs. Cost: one cup of tea typically costs 3,000 to 7,000 wons.
Norae bang (singing room). Now popular throughout the world, karaoke (the act of singing in a public place alongside a musical recording of a certain song) originated in Japan in the early 1970s and came to Korea 10 years later. Perhaps not surpringly, the karaoke got altered upon its importation in Korea as Koreans preferred to perform this act in a private room rather than in public. The noraebang was hence born and became quickly very popular. Cost: 5,000 to 10,000 wons per hour for 2 to 6 people.
Jjimjil bang (steam room). The jjimjil bang is a combination of several rooms that can be accessed sequentially: a sauna, a place to eat and have some tea/coffee, a play room with janggi boards (korean chess), a place to have a massage, and sometimes even hotel rooms, internet rooms, or a movie theater. They are opened 24 hours per day and the cost per person is of 10,000-20,000 wons to enter (the massage is extra). More on the Jjimjil bang on seoulstyle.com.
Manhwachaek bang (comic book room). A room with comfortable couches where one can read a comic book obtained on the premises (similar to the DVD bang).
Bin Bang (empty room). It is unclear what one may wish to do there. This is best left to your imagination.