PC Bang, when directly translated, means computer room, however, the phrase refers to Internet cafes. In Korea, the existence of PC Bangs feeds the intense gaming culture that exists here, with their high-speed internet and high-end computers to ensure a high-quality gaming experience. But even if you’re not an intense gamer, you can still enjoy a PC Bang. You can go to one to chill and watch K-dramas, or even just to surf the Internet. Some even go to these places to sleep and get a quick cheap meal! Here is a rundown of how to use a PC Bang so you, too, can fully enjoy what some might say be one of the greatest things in Korea.
How to make the best of Korean PC bangs
PC Bangs are typically located underground or in rented lots of office buildings. They are scattered across the city and are usually not too far apart from the other. If it’s your first time going to one, a quick map search is helpful to find one nearest to you!
Searching “PC Bang” in English in Naver and Kakao map is already sufficient, but typing it as PC방 is useful for more accurate results. This is because some PC Bang’s might not even have the word PC bang in their name.
Registration and Payment
When you first enter a PC Bang, you may be redirected to a front counter. Sometimes, there may be an employee behind it, but these days, a machine would be waiting for you instead. Here you can input the duration you wish to use the computer and pay the appropriate amount for it. You would need a login ID before you can pay, but if you don’t have one, don’t worry! You can sign up for an account at any of the computers first and return to pay.
Some places may give you a card where you can input the card number in the computer and start playing. The amount you have to pay will be determined when you end the session.
The next step is to simply find a computer, login into your account, and start playing! Bigger establishments may assign you a computer to use, while smaller ones operate on first-come, first-serve.
Korea takes its PC Bang culture seriously; evident from the high-tech computers and equipment often waiting for you. The wide computer screens allow for a high-definition 4K display to enhance your gaming experience. Most places provide noise-cancelling headphones to truly immerse yourself in the game.
After all, as Jay from JAYKEEOUT X VWVB said, “Koreans can take anything, but they cannot take poor PC Bangs!”
Usually, you don’t even have to find and download the game you want to play yourself. PC Bangs computers equip users with pre-installed popular games such as Overwatch and League of Legends as well as other more niche games.
If you’re there just to watch videos, there’s nothing like watching your favorite drama in HD visuals and HQ sounds.
Food and Drinks
Arguably one of the best things about PC Bangs, you can also enjoy snacks and drinks while you’re there! Some places even provide full-meal options, such as noodle and rice dishes. Typical menus include fries, fried food, dumplings, ramen, chips, and soft drinks. You don’t need to know Korean to order most of the time as the menu is usually illustrated.
Food and drinks are often sold at cheap prices with an average of KRW3,000 per food item. You can order food straight from your computer through the homepage without ever needing to leave your seat. Usually, you pay for your order to the staff that delivers your food.
Some places even rent out blankets and pillows for free for a more enjoyable and comfortable experience.
Other uses of PC Bangs
As previously mentioned, PC Bangs are not strictly for gaming. Many students would come there just to surf the Internet while waiting for their next class. Some people would come by just to catch up on their favorite movies or dramas.
Other people take advantage of the fast Internet speed for more unconventional reasons: K-POP concerts.
With the rising popularity of K-pop, many even go to PC Bangs for concert ticket purchases. For popular idols, such as BTS and EXO, ticketing can be tough. If you click too late to buy one when the site opens, you might be stuck at a loading window for hours. Although luck wins in the end, going to a PC Bang helps thanks to their high-speed internet and fast computers. Hearing cheers of victories of a fan successfully securing their tickets is more common than you think. Not even tickets, some even go to PC Bangs just to pre-order their limited edition merchandise online as well.
Similarly, the same competitiveness exists in registering for university classes as well. Slots fill up fast and if you’re not quick, you might be left with classes you’re not interested in. College students often go to PC Bangs to register for their classes for a better chance at securing the one they want.
On a lighter note, people even use PC Bangs to catch a quick snooze. As long as you pay for your use, no one bothers you at your seat. You can use the noise-cancelling headphones, snuggle in your rented blanket, lean back and slip off into dreamland. Many PC Bangs are often for 24 hours, so if you missed your last train/bus and taxis aren’t an option, you can spend a night in one.
10 hours at a PC Bang can cost for as cheap as KRW10,000, so while it’s not an ideal place to sleep, it’s cheaper than a hotel! And a lot more comfortable than an empty subway station.
Want to do more than just sit in front of computers? Consider multi-bangs!
Multi-bangs? Your first thought might be “multiple rooms” and in a sense, you’re correct! Multi-bangs are essentially entertainment rooms, where you can play games, watch movies, sing, play computer games and so on! It is considered a godfather of the bang culture in Korea. These establishments offer snacks and drinks and can be rented from KRW10,000 to KRW20,000 per hour. Multibangs are perfect for group hangouts and parties with your friends!
Since these rooms are also equipped with sofas, you can try and catch a snooze, but multibangs are typically used by multiple people. So expect a little rowdiness if you want to get some shut eye.
Have you ever considered visiting PC Bangs? If you are worried about the language barrier, don’t be! The staff are usually more than happy to help you if you need assistance, regardless. If they can’t really speak English, they would still try their best to point out what needs to be done. With the wide use of Konglish (Korean English) these days, sometimes you don’t even need to speak Korean at all! Bringing a friend who knows Korean is helpful too. Otherwise, you can learn some typical phrases for PC Bangs so you can go to one anytime without worry.
While there are plenty of PC Bangs to choose from, we recommend going to the ones in youth or university districts such as Hongdae, Sinchon, or areas near SNU University to really immerse yourself in the PC Bang culture. There is something eye-opening about being in a room with hollering students as they play games, while enjoying your hot bowl of ramen and coke for less than KRW 6,000.
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