Make Room for a Long Day's NightIf you're looking for offbeat fun in Seoul, get off the sightseeing bus, take a long nap and brace yourself for an all-nighter. Modern Korean culture, especially in Seoul, happens after dark and in "rooms." Indeed, once evening falls, first-time visitors to the capital are apt to notice the abundance of flashy neon that pulses with terms that include "bang," Korean for "room." These are bidiobang, or video rooms, noraebang, or singing rooms, which are Korean versions of karaoke, and PC-bang, or Internet cafes. Korea's "room culture" dates back to the early 1980s, after the first noraebang opened in Busan. Now there are more than 32,000 noraebang, 4,000 video rooms and 23,000 PC rooms in Korea, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Because most of these businesses are open 24 hours and are reasonably priced, young Korean night owls on tight budgets flock to them. This reporter kept herself entertained one evening-till-dawn for just 31,600 won ($24).
by Chun Su-jin