Thursday, May 31, 2012

The DVD Room

Korean Adventure (May 2, 2003 Chautauqua)

   So far, in my quest for something to do with my free time, I have considered hacking up defenseless bamboo with a sword, and playing with dolls. I now turn to a more passive form of recreation, that unique Korean creation, the DVD room.

   I think I have informed you before of the PC room, where young Korean males go to play violent computer games, and smoke their brains out. Adjacent to many of them are DVD rooms, where they take their girlfriends to enjoy... a movie.

   They are found on the upper floors of any average office building. Instead of a single space, the area is divided up into a number of (nearly) soundproof cubicles.  The fee for the movie rental is about $5.00. There are snacks available, including popcorn.

   Customers can view their selection on a flat screen that takes up one entire wall, while relaxing in huge comfy chairs or sofas. There is a central area with all the choices, and a desk where the attendant keeps an eye on all the players for the various rooms.

   One of the attractions of the DVD is it makes it possible to view Korean films. They only have English subtitles, but some Korean films are well worth it. They alternate between "art house films" and other, more mainstream, selections.

   The former are described as "fairly realistic films about ordinary people's lives." The latter genre includes comedies, romances, and (above all in recent times) gangster films.

   Korean gangster films differ from what westerners are used to in such features as "The Godfather" or "Goodfellas." Korean gangsters are seen as "less educated," and so "it's easy to make fun of them," says fan Anna Park, a Seoul University student. The typical offering is more of a "madcap screwball comedy," than a gritty depiction of the violent predator of the western versions.

   One aspect of the DVD room should be kept in mind, though. They are generally associated with, in popular imagination, activities that go beyond simply watching movies. According to the Pusan Pop Culture Guide (, "video rooms are notorious in Korea as a place where young couples go to have sex."

   I am always careful about where my eyes are when I go from the lobby to my room. The possibility of being confronted with an embarrassing situation is only a small drawback once the movie has started. Big comfy chair, Dolby surround sound, and a huge screen to see it all. What more could any male couch potato want?

   Stay tuned...

   Some of the information in this article was obtained from a "Korea Herald" article by contributing writer Jeremy Garlick.

1 comment: