Saturday, October 1

Korean Spas

Since I've been back in Korea,  I've spent at least 2 weekend nights with friends at Korean Spas, or 'jim-jil bangs'. Because this is something very Korean and nothing back home compares, I thought it deserved a post! It's quite the process, but an inexpensive, relaxing way to spend an evening! (or shower if your pipes freeze in the winter like mine did last year)

First step, you walk in and remove your shoes. Place them in a locker and remove the corresponding key.  Then you go to the counter with you shoe key, pay the admission fee, anywhere from 5,000-8,000 won ($5-$8), and trade your shoe locker key for a wristband and uniform (cotton shorts and a t-shirt) and your public bath locker key (to put your clothes in).  The public baths are separated by sex, so at the point the men go to the men's and the women to the women's. Next step is to undress, and place your clothes in the locker.  Then you hit the shower room!

This room has anywhere from 20-40 sit down showers with stools and a mirror, and about 15 stand up shower heads on the surrounding wall.  There are usually 3-5 tubs including a warm tub, warmer tub, a scorching tub, and a cold pool.  Sometimes there's an herb tub. Depending on which jim-jil bang you go to, there's usually a steam room and/or a sauna. There are even scrubbing services offered where you can have a topless ajuma (old Korean women) give you a full body scrub - costs anywhere from 15-30,000 won. Some of my friends have tried it and highly recommend it, but I haven't done it yet! :)
My experience: At first, it was a little weird undressing and prancing around naked amidst 30-50 Korean women, and especially nervewracking with friends, considering I am THE most modest person back home (seriously not one of my friends or my mother has even seen me naked since I was probably 5 or 6). But, when in Korea...and after the first time it gets pretty normal.  I realized maybe I was the one that was weird for not being more comfortable being naked. 

After you finish showering, tub dipping and naked sauna-ing, then you go to the 'dry area of the jim-jil bang'. This is the clothed area part so everyone wears their jim-jil bang uniform :) everyone has the same one so it's funny to see everyone walking around in their matching clothes. They're pretty much 1 size fits all - so they're not the least bit flattering! In the dry area, there are various saunas, a gym area, massage chairs, and a Snack shop that sells things like Ramen noodles, hard boiled eggs, hot tea, fruit teas, and even beer.  There are even big open sleeping rooms if you want to spend the night or sleeping caves.
Sleeping Caves

The best thing is you don't have to carry around your purse or wallet - you have your wrist band that you can swipe, and then pay for things at the end.  The only additional costs are for refreshments or the massage chairs.  There are about 4 or 5 different temperatured sauna rooms.  There's a room with a TV, there's an ice box room, and they even allow you to sit in the room where they cook the hard-boiled eggs! That one was a tough room to stay in for long! And it was really creepy crawling in, as you had to duck, and crawl through what looked like an oven door!

I never went to a spa back home - mainly because they were too expensive, but I thoroughly enjoy the Korean jim jil bang experience! Def a must try if you ever get the chance!

Thanks for reading,
Emily :)

1 comment:

  1. All I want for Christmas is a "jim-jil- bang." Great post, Emily! So interesting!


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