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Noraebang Guide: Korean Karaoke Tips, From Choosing The Right Noraebang To Adding Song Requests

Noraebang guide

Going to a karaoke and singing your heart out is surely one of the best ways to unwind and have fun. Besides visiting trendy neighbourhoods in Seoul, you should definitely visit a Korean karaoke, also known as noraebang, to maximise your trip to Korea. Here’s a comprehensive noraebang guide for you to enjoy an authentic and satisfying singing experience.

1. Take note of the type of noraebang you are going to

Noraebang guide - karaoke to avoid in korea
Image credit: 뿌꾸쓸

There are different types of karaokes in Korea. When finding a place to sing, look out for signs with the words “노래방” (no-rae-bang) or “노래연습장” (no-rae-yeon-seub-jang), which literally translates to singing rooms.

Noraebang guide - karaoke to avoid in korea
Image adapted from: 윤노을

Avoid noraebang in the red light district and places with signboards that have heart-shaped symbols or silhouettes of women. These places usually cater to adult audiences, and they are not your typical noraebang where you go to to simply sing.

2. General noraebang versus coin noraebang 

Noraebang guide - regular noraebang 
Image credit: 파블이

When choosing which karaoke to visit, you can decide between a general noraebang and a coin noraebang.

A general noraebang has a counter, and it’s operated by a staff. The rooms are charged hourly, and you’ll have to inform the staff how many hours you plan to sing. Payment also has to be made before you enter the room.

A staff will then direct you to an empty room and your singing time will start counting down.

Noraebang guide - Coin noraebang 
Image credit: 하블리

On the other hand, coin noraebangs are unmanned and can fit up to 2 to 3 persons. They differ from general noraebangs, where there are bigger rooms that can cater up to more than 5 persons.

As coin noraebangs are unmanned, you can simply find an empty room, make payment via the machine, and start singing to your heart’s content. 

3. Choose between the no. of songs & the no. of hours

Noraebang guide - different prices depending on the no. of hours and no. of songs
Image adapted from: 락휴 민락점

If you choose to sing at coin noraebangs, you can decide whether you want to pay for a certain number of songs or the number of hours. 

For example, you can either pay KRW500 (~USD0.36) for 2 songs or KRW3,000 (~USD2.17) for 30 minutes of singing time. If you decide to sing for a longer period of time, you can get a discounted rate of KRW5,000 (~USD3.63) for 1 hour of singing time.

Noraebang guide - different prices depending on the no. of hours and no. of songs
Image adapted from: 토뿌앙

Note that not all coin noraebang offer both options, so make sure to check out their price charts beforehand.

If you have a hard time choosing between these 2 options, fret not. Just take into account your singing habits. If you’re the type to skip songs halfway through it, you should go for the hourly rate option. Alternatively, those who prefer to take breaks between songs should go for the per-song option. 

4. Minors are prohibited after 10pm

Noraebang guide - minors are prohibited from karaoke after 10pm
Image adapted from: vely u

According to Korean law, minors who are below 18 years old (or 19 years old in Korean age) will be denied entry to noraebang after 10pm. The law applies even when they are accompanied by an adult.

5. Microphone covers are provided for free 

Noraebang guide - free microphone covers
Image credit: 노마드윤

Due to hygiene purposes, all the noraebang in Korea provide microphone covers for free. 

If you visit the general noraebang, the staff will pass you the microphone covers according to the number of persons singing. However, if you choose to visit the coin noraebang, these microphone covers can be easily found above the coin exchange machines. 

The microphone covers usually come packed in pairs.

6. Most noraebang use the same karaoke system

Noraebang guide - TJ media karaoke system
Image adapted from: 신롱이

Almost all the noraebang in Korea use TJ Media’s karaoke system, which means you can use the same song numbers at most of them.

Noraebang guide - file of the song list
Image credit: Clara Quek

In every room, you can find a thick book or file that lists all the song names and numbers for you to refer to. The Korean song titles in the book are entirely in Korean, so if you can’t read the language, you can use the remote control to search for your songs instead.

7. Prepare your song list in advance to avoid wasting time 

Noraebang guide - preparing songs in advance
Image credit: Clara Quek

If you have chosen the hourly rate option, every minute and second of singing time is precious. To save time spent on finding songs, you should prepare a song list in advance, then add all the songs to the queue at the start of your singing session.

Use the TJ Media website to search for song numbers. Even though the website is fully in Korean, it is relatively easy to navigate. 

Noraebang guide - searching for songs under different categories online
Image adapted from: TJ Media

Search for songs under different categories, such as “new songs of the month” and “top ranking noraebang songs”.

To look for a specific song, click or tap on the magnifying glass with the words “노래검색”.

Noraebang guide - searching for songs or artists online
Image adapted from: TJ Media

Input the title of the song or the name of the artist and click or tap on “검색하기” to search.

Noraebang guide - adding the number of the song to your queue for future reference
Image adapted from: TJ Media

The song number will appear on the first column of the search results. Pro-tip: add this number to your noraebang song list for future references. 

8. Yay to “service” time 

Noraebang guide - service time which means extra time given to sing for free
Image credit: 민이브

The term “service” is commonly used in Korea to describe something given for free. 

On the top right corner of the screen, you can see the number of songs or amount of singing time you have left.

Noraebang often give “service” time, which simply means extra singing time. The additional time usually ranges between 5 minutes and up to 20 minutes, so don’t be surprised if you see that your singing time has increased out of the blue. 

9. How to use the remote control

Noraebang guide - how to use the remote control
Image credit: 웬디

While some of the newer noraebang have implemented touchscreen panels, most of them still use the traditional remote control.

Noraebang guide - guide on how to use the remote control
Image credit: Clara Quek

All the words on the remote control are in Korean, so if you can’t read the language, you can refer to the infographic above for the translations.

The remote control allows you to access many functions, from reserving songs and changing pitches to skipping verses. The most important functions to know are how to search for a song, add a song to queue, and how to cancel a song that you don’t wish to continue singing. 

If you are not sure which song to sing, you can press “신곡안내” to look at the list of the latest songs or “인기차트” for the top noraebang songs.

To look for a specific song or artist, press “제목” to search for a song via its song title, or “가수” to search for the artist.

You can search in both Hangul and English. All you have to do is press “한/영” to switch between the Korean and English keyboard, then “입력” to enter.

To select a song, press “선택” then “시작” to start singing. Press “예약” to add a song to queue, and “취소” to cancel a song. 

10. Hold your own mini concert

Noraebang guide - holding your mini concert in korean karaoke
Video adapted from: Netflix

With disco lights and an excellent audio system, the noraebang is the best place to sing your lungs out. Don’t forget to blast the echo and speakers, and get straight into concert mood.

Noraebang guide - tambourines
Image credit: 박블리

Other than singing and dancing, there are als musical instruments such as tambourines to get lit. Check out this video to get a taste of how Koreans maximise their time at noraebang:

Video credit: MBCdrama

11. Scoring system – keep it or remove it 

Noraebang guide - scoring system that can be kept or removed
Image credit: Clara Quek

All noraebang have a point system where you can put your singing skills to the test.

While this is a must-have part of the noraebang experience, take note that the system will take a few seconds to calculate your score before it shows up on the screen, and this will take up some of your singing time.

If you don’t want your singing skills to be evaluated by a machine, remove the scoring system by pressing “점수제거” on the remote control.

Noraebang guide - scores compiled in a scoreboard at the end of the karaoke session
Image credit: Clara Quek

If you choose to keep the point system, all the songs that you have sung, as well as the scores, will be compiled in a scoreboard for you at the end of your singing session.

Noraebang guide for all avid & bathroom singers out there

It is a must to experience singing at a noraebang when you are in Korea. At an affordable rate of KRW500 (~USD0.36) for 2 songs or KRW5,000 (~USD3.63) for 1 hour of singing time, you can finally have your main character moment by belting out K-drama OSTs or dancing to NewJeans’ OMG. 

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Cover image adapted from: MBCdrama, Netflix, 파블이