Elwood 5566

Beating Boknal 4 – Water water everywhere

Posted in bathhouse and jjimjilbang culture, seasons by 노강호 on August 8, 2010

I’ve abandoned the e-bente-tang for the duration of high summer and like some maggoty hippo I spend my time floating about in the cold pool.


Water, in all its forms is wonderful and is only truly appreciated in summer. After or during an intense and sweaty workout, when bodily fluids have been rung out of the body,  water is the only drink, barring neutral beverages like cereal teas, that have the potential to satiate a hungry thirst with such intense pleasure. Only in summer, when heat and humidity make an extra drain on the body, and when water  both replenishes diminishing levels and lowers soaring temperatures, is water truly appreciated.  In the heat of heat summer there are times when you suck in water with such force, living in the moment it is experienced, that it can cascade down your chin and splash down your chest in the most refreshing manner, a manner that at any other time of the year would be uncomfortable. These are the moments when the experience of quenching your thirst are orgasmic in proportion. Despite all their silly claims, sweetened, gaseous drinks utterly fail to pleasure the body and mind with as much intensity as a does a simple glass of icy water.


And you know the heat of summer is here when your shower water is set to cold and yet is almost warm. Wonderful water washing over your body, flushing away sweat and grime and swathing you in its refreshing coolness. And in the bathhouse the cold pool, for so many months a test of endurance and toleration, becomes a revitalizing cocoon of luxury to be lingered in. Now only the ice room remains to effectively chill a body punished by heat and humidity and even this induces pleasurable sighs and ecstatic exhalations. For months, as I wallow in the e-bente-tang, the ice room and cold pool lay predominantly dormant with visitors enduring their extremes with spartan  conviction. Now they are bustling with life, the pool a busy maelstrom of splashing youngsters and lazing adults. In the ice room I sweep shards of ice into my palms, like snow, and rub them over my face until they are reduced to trickles of icy water.


And the water in all it’s variations talk and sing to me like an enormous symphony; water hissing from the enormous cauldron in the steam room,  swooshing its vent in a hot vapour,  the burbling of the jacuzzi, the persistent dripping of water from a myriad of locations, of water lapping against the sides of their containers stirred by some movement, splashes echoing in colourful variation reflecting their intensity, the roar of the power shower as it blasts out it’s freezing water.  A world of water purges  my senses and fractures, like a thumping gong, the sights and sounds of humanity and within that persistent liquid modulation a pool of tranquility from which a multitude of thoughts are stirred and caressed.


Creative Commons License© Nick Elwood 2010. This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.


4 Responses

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  1. Joshua Cho said, on August 11, 2010 at 10:05 am

    You make water sound like the ‘coolest’ thing ever!
    Just out of curiosity, what option do you choose when drinking, like, usually? I can probably guess that tap water’s out of the equation, cuz it’s not that reliable, and that leaves: bottled water, water purifier, and either of them plus boiling process. Some Koreans are very keen on choosing the right kind of source of drinking water to make sure that they are drinking the safest (and probably the most wholesome) water possible.

  2. Nick said, on August 12, 2010 at 12:40 am

    To be honest, I rarely buy bottled water. In the UK tap water has less microbes than bottled water and the bottled water industry probably the biggest rip-off industry of the lot.I find contradictory information on Korean tap water and simply boil it. Water should be clean and free – next stop buying clean air. The future is dirty and dirt makes money! Just out of interest, in the UK, my average water bill is over 100000W a month. Higher than gas or electricity!

  3. Joshua Cho said, on August 12, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    That’s pretty pricey, i must say. I guess it’s safe (well.. sort of) for me to assume that utility bills in Korea are rather on the lower end compared to those of UK, or not. As far as Korean tap water is concerned, i would say it isn’t so bad as many say it is, but i’m also not 100% sure i am fine with drinking water straight out of the tap that’s been through quite a distance from the water treatment facility. Then again, bottled water isn’t utterly reliable, either, with some ozonated bottled water brands turned out to be containing traceable amount of bromate, which is a suspected carcinogen. The whole safety issue around any stuff we put into our mouths is just mind-boggling, so in the end, i guess i just get on with it, be that may not be as ideal.

  4. Nick said, on August 12, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Actually, I nearly added in my previous response that bottled waters in the UK have often been contaminated. The most famous being Perrier water which for years was the most, and at one time only bottled water. Needless to say it was very expensive. In 1990 it was found to contain benzene. In 2004 Coca Cola released ‘Dasani,’ their bottled water. It was on the shelves for five weeks before disappearing. At 95p a small bottle, (2000 Won), when it was actually purified tap water, the public were a bit pissed off. Then it was discovered bottles were contaminated with bromate. Seems it’s the same old story wherever you go but at least your meat doesn’t seem to be pumped full of water. (you’ve still got that raping to come!) You can hardly barbecue meat in the UK because it pisses water all over your coals and most of the meat you fry, like bacon, ends up swimming in a pan of water.

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