Ladies, I have surrendered the high ground. I’m sorry. In that time-honored tradition of disdaining men and their videogame obsessions, Korean women are champions. They’re culturally obligated to do chores while their husbands hang out in screen golf parlors and PC rooms. But Skyrim widows got game, and I represented us well on the field: coffee break complaint fests, general eye rolling, the universal utterance, “Namja deuli!” Men!
Until last Wednesday, when I discovered multi bangs and lost all credibility.
The story begins in Seoul. After several days in the city, we became tired of people ricocheting off us on the subways (and streets, restaurants, bathrooms...). Sometimes Korea's like living in a clown car. Contact is unavoidable, and everyone gets bumped and jostled. Since we're unnaturally large, we make especially good targets. When Sam walks through a store, people ping off him like pinballs. Guess how much he loves that?
We needed some empty space to hang out and recharge. It was time for a bang.
Bangs are small, pay-as-you-go entertainment rooms, sized for individuals, couples, or groups on a night out. There are PC bangs for video games and DVD bangs for movies. Noraebangs cater to your karaoke needs (my Korean friends can't believe Americans do karaoke in front of strangers—what kind of freakish exhibitionists are we?). There are even hushed mentions of kiss bangs hidden away in big cities. But the king of them all is the multi bang, which offers everything in one room.*
We found a cache of multi bangs in Gangnam, the ritzy neighborhood near the Express Bus Terminal. An hour of privacy ran ₩6,500 per person, snacks included. This sounded like a good deal to us. We traded our shoes for slippers (panicking the young man behind the desk when Sam's boots were too big for the cubbies) and took room number eight.
The place had my heart before we even booted up the Wii. Poufy green cushions, heated floor, free popcorn - original and caramel. Sam brought up the game menu and asked what I wanted to play. Thus I chose my downfall: Lego Batman.
Could it be lamer? My fall was precipitated by a children's toy commercial aping a Dark Knight movie of mediocre proportions. But you're already judging me, so I might as well admit it: those two hours flew by like Superman (which, yes, is the wrong analogy, but Batman has neither flight nor super speed). I was prepared to stay in room number eight until I beat the Joker and his team of some-assembly-required bad guys off the streets of Lego Gotham for good. Sam had to peel my fingers from the controller and carry me out bodily.
A few days later, we were at the Express Bus Terminal, heading home. The crowd pressed us against the ticket machines as I glumly deciphered the bus schedule. I didn't want to go. There weren't any multi bangs in Chungju.
Sam, devoid of game-lust, was ready to leave. "What time's the next bus?"
Important fact: Sam can't read Korean. "There's one at six o'clock." I told him.
"That's three hours from now!"
"Hmm, yeah. You know, we could go hang out at the multi bang until then." I suggested helpfully.
That's how I flipped to the dark side and manipulated my knowledge of Korean for evil. Sam's on to me now, but it's too late.
As we left the multi bang to catch our bus, the desk guy slipped me some coupons.
I'll get you now, Joker.
Finding a multi bang:
There are a bunch of multi bangs grouped together between Sinnonhyeon and Gangnam Stations. Just go to the five corners intersection marked below and look for a 멀티방 sign.
*BYO person to kiss.