as every foreigner in Korea knows, is the norae bang. The concept is simple: singing along to your favourite tunes with your friends in the comfort of a private room. The microphones add a ton of echo, the videos don't make a lick of sense and at least two tambourines are always provided.
If you've never had the pleasure, it's hard to imagine. As a non-karaoke singer, it sounded so awkward to me at first: singing? In a room? For fun? But from that first weekend with all my new co-workers, I was converted. Belting out a song - even a rubbish song - is just so cathartic. I've come to think of it as communal shower-singing, without the nakedness (that's of course reserved for the bath-house, where singing is rather less common). I guess that's why Koreans only know about the joys of singing in the shower from movies: they already have something even better.
Usually, of course, everyone's a few sheets to the wind by the time a norae bang idea comes to fruition. And, usually, the singing ability ranges from acceptable to fighting cats. But this last weekend was a norae bang experience I never quite expected. We were on a beach trip to Jin-ha with a group of women - including more than a few who had some serious pipes. When they sang the Cranberries' 'Dreams' I was impressed. When they sang Sarah McLaughlin's 'Angel' the whole room was transfixed. No one spoke, no one moved and even as a memory, it gives me goosebumps. Later in the night, one of our singers even had me convinced that Evanescence produced at least one decent song.
Tonight is a friend's birthday dinner, and a norae bang sesh is definitely on the cards, as well it should be. With a new group of folk, it will no doubt be different from last weekend, but here's hoping it's another corker. Happy Birthday Mark! :)