Elwood 5566

Danger! Donuts!

Posted in bathhouse and jjimjilbang culture, Blogging, Comparative, Westerners by 노강호 on August 19, 2010

Bathhouse

I enjoy reading other westerners accounts of the bathhouse experience as so often, and to varying degrees, they highlight how ‘fucked up’ we waygukins are. I’m just as ‘fucked’ as everyone else, though probably in a different way, as I only have a problem with nudity and changing rooms if I am in the west when I find they ooze a hostile atmosphere that seems a juxtaposition of hyper masculinity and homo-eroticism. And I am further ‘fucked’ because I now find semi clothed far more sexually appealing than totally naked and in you face.

I stumbled upon  a commentary of a guy’s experiences in a bathhouse that was both open-minded and yet humorously exposed some reactions to the stranger observations bathhouses provide. Quote:

much nicer

We then had to soap up and shower down. An old man saw me struggling and helped me adjust the temperature of my shower, and even got me a fresh cloth to lather up with. After cleaning, we chilled in various hot tubs and saunas for about 30 minutes. Contrary to what I had heard from a female friend, nobody stared at me because I was a foreigner. This might be because men don’t give fuck about seeing other men naked. Personally, I got over seeing other men naked thanks to hockey change rooms, which can desensitize you to male nudity pretty quickly. I was feeling good about remaining unperturbed by this excessive nudity, because my colleague was worried I would not be able to handle all the male genitals/being naked in front of a hundred men. Then I saw a man doing push ups naked beside a man doing disgusting stretches I will never describe to anyone. At that point, I emphatically informed Mun-Gi I was ready to go.

I had to laugh because, as stark and to the point as it is, his comments capture some significant cultural differences. Unfortunately, the author of: I’m In Seoul but I’m not a Soldier, returned to Canada this month.

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

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One Response

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  1. Joshua Cho said, on August 19, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    i haven’t given much thought on how foreigners would perceive this whole Korean bathhouse thing, but all i can say, from where i stand, is this: maybe as a Korean i’m just used to the ambience of typical bathhouse AND i’m so self-conscious that i don’t give a crap about what’s going on around me. i just focus on washing myself. at times, incidents happen, like, since i go bathhouses by myself, a complete stranger, who is also alone, approaches me and asks me to rub off dirt from his back, but there’s isn’t anything more than what it appears to be, so…
    anyway, the bottom line is i don’t see what’s so big a deal about bathhouse experiences. then again, i’m a friggin’ Korean, so what do i know, huh?


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