Korean Bathhouse Links
Posts on Bathhouse and JJimjilbang Female Perceptive
Naked in a Jjimjilbang: For a woman’s perspective on using a bathhouse (which is mistakenly described as a jjimjilbang). Excellent account.
Dragon Hill: This famous jjimjilbang, situated in Seoul, is one of the largest and plushest in the world.
First Contact: An interesting account of a trip to a bathhouse, from a nun!
In a Korean Bathhouse: an account of a trip to a bathhouse.
Horror in the Bathhouse: This is a well written account of a first trip to a bathhouse which has a special allure as it was written in 2001 when the reception to waygukin in a bathhouse, was quite different from that of 2010.
Conquering the 쨤질방 – actually the author is conquering the 목욕탕.
Who Would Have Guessed (March 2011) from Away We Go – a first time account
Experiencing Dragon Hill Spa (Dec. 2010) from Gone Seoul Searching – a review of Asia’s largest bathhouse and jjimjilbang.
Tales of the World: Get Naked, from The Waiting (2012).
Posts on Bathhouse and Jjimjilbang.
Getting Clean (Feb. 22nd 2009) From: Tony in Korea – another account of a first time visit to a bathhouse
Saunas and Jjimjilbang in Korea (March 2011) from, Jonny on the Road
A Peek into a Seoul Bathhouse (April 28th 2011) from – The Korea Times. A touching account of a Korean grandfather’s bathhouse experience which both traverses generations and culture.
Sleeping at Incheon Airport (April 25th 2011) From Jonny on the Road – an insight in what looks to be a luxurious experience.
Bathhouses in Seoul – My Favourite Jjimjilbang (2015) – let Christine take you on a video tour of the jjimjilbang.
Blogs Dedicated to Bathhouse and JJimjilbang
JJimjilbang and Sauna – information on various facilities and events.
General Information on Jjimjilbang
36 Hours in Seoul (NY Times)
First Time Jjimjilbang: How to visit a Korean bathhouse. A good comprehensive insight into using a jjimjilbang. (2015 – Lonely Planet)
Korean How-to Guide: Jjimjilbang in 5 easy steps. An step by step guide and some links to a few central location jjimjilbang. (2013)
A Look at Korea’s Culture from the Bathhouse (2014) The New York Times extensive expose of Korean bathhouses.
How to use a Korean Spa (2015) From Eat Your Kimchi, a popular vlog series which many expats in Korea use.
Korean Bathhouse and the Children’s Age limit Dilemma (2013) An interesting account from Koreabang.
Links to Bathhouse Information Globally (Non Korean)
There Is a separate page for Korean style bathhouses outside Korea
A Funhouse Floating in a Korean Spa (2009). A reveiw of Inspa World, College Piont, Queens, New York. This review is from the New York Times.
Spa Castle, New York. Their website revamped in 2016.
Links to Bathhouses in History
Filched Comments on Bathhouses Culture
1) I’ve been here almost 6 years and haven’t gone. No nerve. Plus I’d rather go with someone who knows the ropes than faking it by myself. I’m not much into public nudity – I hated public showers back home too…at the gym etc
2) I was deeply squeamish about ‘exposing’ myself in group situations in Canada, all my life. As if there was something indecent about it — a weird indoctrination that ‘private parts’ must be kept hidden. Plus the fear of lurking glances & anxiety that ‘average’ didnt measure up! Well phooey on that nonsense. From my first visit to the bath houses here I’ve felt liberated from self-consciousness about my body. It is what it is & I’m comfortable in it. Most Koreans are very relaxed about same-sex nudity & discretion is the norm — everyone just goes about their own business.
(Maybe a little different on the women’s side? Friends tell me Korean women can be quite open in their scrutiny & comments, but most of my friends just shrug it off.)
It’s a neat feeling when you can be naked in front of strangers & not give it a second thought. I was in a spa the day Kim Dae-jung flew to North Korea to meet Kim Jong-il, we were maybe 50 naked men & boys standing glued to the tv as DJ walked across the runway & the two of them shook hands. We all spontaneously applauded & several older men wiped away tears. Unforgettable.
Or the time I was in a hot-springs showering next to a western friend on his first visit & I’d forgotten my shampoo. The look! & then the laughter, when I asked him, Can I bum a squirt?
3) I was exactly the same before…then my roommate took me to the bath house in our neighborhood and I was hooked. The nudity thing wears off fast, and its rejuvenating. I go every day to my local bath house and once a week to the spa in Busan (onchinjang). Its just the best.
4) I love the bathhouse. Same, at first, I was so hesitant… Just to be naked in front of so many strangers. And yes my chest is noticeably larger than any Korean woman I’ve ever met. So there were body issues, but I went with a friend one time and have no qualms about returning (and have since that time).
The first two times I didn’t wear my contacts (because of all the steam), so it was actually good not being able to see anything in close focus. And not being able to notice if anyone was really staring. But the funny part was, I was stared at less than when I have clothes on. A little akward meeting another foreigner there, but I’ve experienced weirder things in Korea. Had a blast befriending some young girls and playing around and showing them some swimming moves (in the cool pool).
So my advice. You’ve got to experience a bathhouse AT LEAST once while in Korea. If you don’t like it, then fine. But I’m sure a lot of people will find they love it and go back again and again. So try to go when you first get here and not towards the end of your contract, because you will probably regret not going earlier. I know I did.
5) Give it a try just once and you’ll be hooked. I’ve been here since fall of ’99 and I think it was 4 years later I finally went into one. Worked at a hagwon with both a health club and a sauna in the basement of the building. Didn’t have to teach until 2 pm on MWFs, so guess what I did 3 times a week? Yep, first one, then the other … best way to be nice to your body. Well, second best, anyway …
6) I wish the staff knew enough English to tell the foreigners who insist on wearing their underwear in the pools to go away tho.
NEGATIVE (By predominantly Pumpkin People)
1) What about the staring? I get stared at enough with my clothes on. I hate to think what it would be like once I’m naked. What are other chicks experiences? my boss has said she goes every Sunday, and has invited me to go with her, but i am rather nervous about wandering around naked with everybody pointing and looking at me.
2) The staring does not go away; you just don’t notice it after a while. There is nothing worse than having light-coloured pubic hairs and a larger than average “you-know-what” and having pansy Korean men staring at and talking about your hardware like a drooling Liberace fan. You want to see a white man’s “yoo-hoo”? Check the Internet you pyontai… I wouldn’t go anymore…
3) I heard a story about this chick from South Africa who went to a bath house in Seoul. She was scrubbing away when an ajima pulled out a camera and took a photo of her!!! That story has well and truly put me off going to a bath house!
4) I’m with the Wall on this one: I used to go pretty regularly, and loved it, but having guys check out and comment on my tackle every single time became a bit much. They wouldn’t even look at my face for Christ’s sake. So I’d stare back in the same fashion. It is true, you know, what they say about Asian measurements . . .
5) And my 02. worth. Korean bathhouses? Dirty. Think abut this for a minute.
The hot and cold pools. The water is NOT filtered. You have people who scrub their body and DON’T rinse off and still jump into the pools. I’ve seen it and I’m sure you have also. Leave the sauna, sweat pouring off you and hop into the cold pool! I have never seen a sauna in Korea that filters the water. It gets changed once or twice a day. Japan? Yes the water is filtered and cleaned. Not Korea. I know a few people who caught the crabs in these saunas. The blankets in the sleeping rooms are not washed daily. The towels that the saunas give you to dry off usually are not washed in hot water. I’m not bad mouthing Korea saunas, I have been to a few but most are dirty. Even the fancy looking saunas that are expensive to enter do not filter the hot/cold pool water. People are peeing in them also. I’d think twice. The saunas are good things but many are lacking customers who use good hygiene. If you are lucky enough, you might have been using one when it was being cleaned. I was and never did return.
6) I’ve always been a little apprehensive about the whole thing of going to a spa. All of the other waygooks are talking about how there’s the whole “people comment on my ‘Western-sized’ tool”. This causes apprehension because as a waygook, I have a smaller-than-average. So, I may get some “why is he so small for being white?” comments. It’s all silly insecurity but alas…
7) I’ve also been here since 2001 and have never gone. I’m not into sausage fests. I work out every day and shower at home. The room of soapy Koreans just doesn’t appeal to me.
8) I went once and was the opposite of being hooked!
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