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Bathhouse Basics (13) – The Ice Room (어름방)

Posted in bathhouse and jjimjilbang culture, bathhouse Basics, Daegu by 노강호 on March 11, 2011


I don’t use the ice room (어름방 or 어름굴) much during the winter but in summer it is a heavenly sanctuary. An  ice room, which can appear in both a jjimjilbang (찜질방) or in a bathhouse (목욕탕), is a bit of a specialty and many do not have them. However, the chances are that one exists in your area. In the Song-So area of Daegu, Migwang (미광) has ice rooms in both the jjimjilbang and bathhouse (mogyoktang).

In the summer months ice rooms are usually iced up and scrapping off the ‘snow’ and rubbing it over your face is an exhilarating experience more so when you appreciate that outside the temperature is that of a muggy sauna.

a large jjimjilbang ice room


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© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.


4 Responses

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  1. Charles said, on March 12, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Its funny if anyone asked me to describe a jimjilbang I would have included an iceroom; however, I can’t remember ever using one, much less where I saw such a room. There were many muggy days in Seoul when I would have loved to use it.

    Thanks for keeping up this series. Do you know if anyone has written a history/guide to public bathing in Korea (in any language)? I look for one each time I’m there. Recently, there have been books on the disappearing world of the hammam in the Middle East. “The Lost Hammams of Cairo: A Disappearing Bathhouse Culture” and “Hammaming the Sham” a look at public bathhouses (mostly) in Syria. And, there’s a new book on the history of the Russian banya coming out later this year.

    Thanks again for explaining Korea bathhouse culture to the rest of us. I always look forward to reading your posts.

    • Nick said, on March 13, 2011 at 1:03 pm

      Charles, my writing on bathhouses has been curtailed of late, hence other topics, as I buggered a knee going coming down the mountain. However, it’s almost better. I don’t know if there is a book on the history of bathing in Korea and certainly have seen nothing on my intense trawls when looking for information. I am sometimes tempted to start including information on bathhouses beyond Korea. of course, I can’t furnish information but maybe others can. I saw a great blog or post a few months ago on Bathhouses in Budapest and they were very grand buildings.

  2. thesupplanter said, on March 13, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    I’m fond of the ice room, it has a pleasantly shocking sensation. In one of my local-ish jimjilbangs there’s a ‘not ice-room’ – which is quite chilly, but not icy – I can’t recall the name.

    I’m also reluctantly bathhouseless at present. My balls are sick. I can accept this medical advice in this instance as my physician suspects I picked up the Ecoli virus from a sauna, but whenever anything goes wrong, doctors always suggest avoiding the sauna as though it is an inherent place of great danger. Why is this?

    • Nick said, on March 14, 2011 at 1:07 am

      Actually the topic of my next post.

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