Korean karaoke, or noraebang (노래방) is a huge part of Korean culture and has expanded out to other countries around the world! You’ll find 노래방 in all kinds of situations in Korea. People go to it with friends or classmates, during work events with their teams, and there has even been an increase in people going alone as well.

Here I’ll cover it all, from what makes Korean karaoke different to what to sing there, so let’s get into it~


What is the Difference between Korean Karaoke and American Karaoke

What is the Difference between Korean Karaoke and American Karaoke?

If you’re like me and like singing but are too shy to go out in front of a whole bar Korean karaoke is for you! Unlike karaoke in America which is usually held in a bar in front of a whole crowd for you to perform to. The Korean version is a private event, with noraebang spots having multiple soundproof rooms for a group of people to get together and sing.

Like a bar you can order drinks and snacks, and book a room for as long or short as you like. Noraebangs also encourage participation from others! Of course, there are duets or songs for the whole group, but these rooms can come stocked with tambourines and maracas too.

There are two main options for noraebangs, either you book by the hour or by how many songs you would like to sing. The pay-as-you-sing ones are called coin noraebangs (코인 노래방) or 코노 for short. These rooms are much smaller, usually just for 1-3 people.


Is it Karaoke or Noraebang?

Noraebang (노래방) is just the Korean word for karaoke. Karaoke is originally a Japanese word that has been adapted over to English. Noraebang literally means song room (노래: song 방: room) in Korean so it’s very simple to remember! If you find them out in America you’ll probably see Karaoke in the title and description, just because karaoke is the more popular and well-known term.


Rules for Korean Karaoke

Now that what a noraebang is all set, let’s get into the rules and general etiquette to follow so that when you go everyone has a fun time!

  1. First of all, Don’t hog the mic! Make sure to take turns and don’t assume others don’t want to sing
  2. Keep in mind your song choice. Try to pick songs that the group would know and want to join in on; dance to, be backup singers, or play the maracas. And avoid more explicit or offensive songs if it doesn’t fit the crowd
  3. Speaking of dancing and maracas, Support the singers! Encourage the singer(s) by cheering them on and engaging with the song to keep everything fun.
  4. Read the mood. Try to avoid going heavy on ballads or slow emotional songs unless they fit the vibe, and vice versa. People use noraebang both to get their feelings out, and let loose and party.
  5. Don’t go overboard. While the rooms are pretty soundproof there’s no need to yell or shout. Keep in mind there are other rooms that you don’t want your song to spill out into.
  6. Have basic manners. Don’t talk loudly while someone is singing, interrupt, judge their singing, etc.
  7. Keep clean. Some places come with covers for the mics to reduce the spread of germs. So it’s good to use them!
  8. and Not all karaoke places are equal! Watch out for ones in South Korea with signs that have a woman in them, these are made for more ‘adult entertainment’. Best to avoid as they can be shady places and have a different atmosphere than normal karaoke

You can search for a song either by artist, song title, or by the songs listing number. Many places will allow you to search for popular kpop artists by their Korean and English names like “BTS” or “방탄소년단”. But not every song will have English titles so keep that in mind! Some karaoke places have their listings on YouTube or their website so if you like you can prepare ahead of time. Pick out some songs and remember their numbers to get everything started smoothly~


Korean Karaoke; Noraebang Full Breakdown!

What Songs Do They Have at Korean Karaoke?

Along with a ton of Korean songs Korean karaoke spots will usually have a variety of popular Japanese, Chinese, and English songs. Here are some popular songs to sing so you can impress your Korean friends or colleagues!

Kpop Karaoke Songs
  • H.O.T. – Candy
  • Wonder Girls – Tell Me
  • Girls’ Generation – 다시 만난 세계 (Into The New World)
  • NewJeans – Ditto
  • 10cm – 폰서트 (Phonecert)
  • SHAUN – Way Back Home
  • iKON – 사랑을 했다 (Love Scenario)
  • TAEYANG – 눈,코,입 (Eyes, Nose, Lips)
Korean Ballads for Karaoke
  • Yang Hee-eun – 아침 이슬 (Morning Dew)
  • Yoon Jong-shin – 좋니 (Like It)
  • Ailee – 첫눈처럼 너에게 가겠다 I Will Go To You Like the First Snow (Goblin OST)
  • K.will – 이러지마 제발 (Please don’t…)
  • Jung Joon-il – 안아줘 (Hug Me)
  • M.C THE MAX – 어디에도 (No matter where)
  • Parc Jae Jung – 헤어지자 말해요 (Let’s Say Goodbye)

Why is Karaoke so Popular in Korea?

To Koreans it’s a fun way to let off stress, and it’s also tied into Korea’s huge drinking culture. Over 50% of single Koreans in their 20s live with their family and stay until they get married. Some places are notorious for thin walls as well. So for many people, they can’t belt out sad songs to get over a breakup while their mom is in the next room!

Also, for any aspiring singers they can use it to practice. Some Korean karaoke places have a scoring system after you’re done to rate you up to 100 points. Keep in mind the scoring is mostly for fun, so sometimes it won’t be entirely accurate.


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