Korean Bang at Seoul’s university area, Makgeolli & Pollalla
After breaking typhoon news from Taipei, which we survived yesterday, I will resume where I left off. Our last weekend in Seoul:
Although we only new Mimi and Dan for a day, it felt like we had known them forever and thought it would be a fantastic idea to experience Korean style bang together. We are the open kind of traveler, looking for unique thrills.
However bang in Korea, is not just a group thing, although commonly practised as such. In fact everyone gets their own comfy spot in a ‘room‘, which is the literal translation of bang.
In reality the ‘room‘ is more of an advanced internet café for gamers showing a united fascination for interactive digital games, such as Starcraft.
Actually, Korea provides numerous ‘bangs‘ to get your entertainment fix. Sing your lungs out at the norae bang (karaoke lounge), watch a film at a DVD bang, play cards at a board game bang or slay all comers in Starcraft at a PC bang (internet café).
A DVD Bang.
Pick a movie and move along the dark corridor to get into movie mode.
It has a bit of an ambiguous atmosphere with those numbered cabin rooms.
Please do not disturb.
We also came across a Touch Self Room. No idea what this place was all about.
The PC Bang.
Another PC Bang and Karaoke Bang.
The best thing about bang is that if you have strict parents or no money for video games at home, you only pay the equivalent of about two US dollars for an hour of the best of gaming in an extra comfy boss-chair.
At the PC Bang, we went together with Mimi and Dan, we got a registration card to get started.
Warcraft. A very popular game.
But Starcraft is no 1 in Korea.
The best players of Starcraft enjoy star status, the average gamers come out of the bang after days, calling the line for gaming addictions, the worst have been reported to die of exhaustion.
All PC Bangs at least try to make sure their customers don’t die of hunger.
Drinks of true gamers.
The smokers are behind glass.
They did let us in… but it was impossible to start gaming due to a lengthy registration process. Why didn’t bang work for me. Is it age related? Definitely not.
The professional players show incredible reflexes, working the keyboard and mouse not taking their eyes of the screen.
The entertainment area in between Hongik University Station and Sangsu Station is a fantastic place not only to find bang, but also typical Korean ice deserts and restaurants serving traditional Korean liquor.
The university area is really one of my favourite places in Seoul. There is so much going on… you can let yourself entertain with live bands, student’s art activities, wall paintings, theatres, endless shops and restaurants.
After the bang, we conquered the outdoors! Dan is doing what a man does best when girls are around.
The look of winners. Mimi is the lucky girl.
Hongik University is famous for its College of Fine Arts and the streets are decorated with art.
One totally unique place in the area is the Pollalla Museum. It is actually a store for which you have to pay to get in and a bit of a chamber of curiosa, horror and fun, displaying old dolls and toys in glass cabinets. The entrance was 1,000 won.
A bit of my childhood was looking at me and I am seriously questioning the definition of ‘museum’! I used to play with displayed stuff as a kiddo and that wasn’t that long ago.
I got a doll like that from my Polish auntie from Szczecin and I swear I do not remember it being so spooky.
See, if you can spot some childhood memories:
Ehh, not in those pictures, I think.
The university area is the place to go out, eat and drink. The drink to try is makgeolli.
An evening with friends is celebrated with makgeolli (sometimes written makkoli) – the traditional Korean rice liquor. Makgeolli is made from fermented wheat and rice, which gives it a milky colour and about 6–8% alcohol. It tastes like sweet yeast to me. It is served in neat old pots.
This is the right way to serve makgeolli, as we were taught by Mimi. Hold the dish with both hands while the liquor is poured. You drink it from a bowl.
Cheers! (I forgot the Koran word for it.)
To accompany the drink, these ladies were working hard in front of the restaurant to get the fried snacks ready.
And even though you see zucchini and green peppers, they are actually meat in disguise! Korean cuisine has no respect for greens.
As it was getting dark, the streets were filling with artists giving their best to the audience.
Korean hottie with excellent guitar and vocal skills.
In my high school times, we used to hold up lighters.
We ended up at another bar which served drinks but were required to spend a certain amount on one of their dishes. We opted for this fruit plate. Parsley and tomatoes were an interesting addition to the fruit. This is basically the fruit commonly available in Seoul. No bonus treats like mangoes, papayas or the endless juicy fruit variety I know from other Asian countries.
Well, we did come for a drink and had a lot of fun drinking sake!
Our table touch screen had died – Microsoft. Not even two IT pros could fix this.
Before we left university area, we learned about another popular Korean snack. Tteokbokki (Korean names are quite something!), spicy and chewy rice cakes in half-cigar form, usually drained in meat sauce. I tried the tteokbokki covered with seafood sauce and it tasted just like corn puff crunchies from Poland.
The best (read fatty and sweet) snack was fried pumpkin.
After a fun day full of treats, it was time to go home and relax.
We shall return to Seoul’s university area!