Elwood 5566

Bathhouse Basics 2 – The Jjimjilbang (찜질방)

Posted in bathhouse and jjimjilbang culture, bathhouse Basics by 노강호 on May 11, 2010

'25 hour' JJimjilbang (찜질방) Song-so, Daegu.

Jjimjilbang (찜질방) – while bathhouses often provide predominantly water related ‘entertainment,  jjimjilbangs provide a space where  families and friends, regardless of gender, can intermingle. There is no English term for a  jjimjilbang and as they contain saunas and adjoining bathhouses, they are often conflated with ‘saunas,’ ‘bathhouses’ or ‘spas.’ In practice, they are very different.

Common to all jjimjilbang are clothing,  ondol heating (underground), large sleeping areas, an adjoining bathhouse and a broad range of entertainment. Television are conveniently located, PC rooms, children play areas, a variety of  dry saunas using various minerals, mud or salt rooms, ice rooms, restaurants, libraries, refreshments and in some cases cinemas. Massage chairs, are fairly common and are coin-operated.  There are usually other features to provide both comfort and visual appeal – large tree trunks, for example, on which you can sit or play, and various levels of floor decking. Blankets are available in abundance. The size of establishments varies but very often can accommodate several thousand people and like the bathhouses, jjimjilpang may have restricted hours and or a days closure a week, or be open 24 hours.

When you purchase your ticket at the booth and you ask for the jjimjilpang you will be given some form of costume, sometimes a gown or t-shirt and shorts. Usually these are emblazoned with the establishments logo and the may be colour coordinated, one of my local jjimjilbang provides blue for men, pink women and yellow for children.

A selection of jjimjilbang photos giving you an insight into the range of facilities and individual establishment ambiances.

A group outing

Games

An ice room

Busy and buzzing

Tranquility

Early morning - weekday

With a library

Weekends and holidays are usually busy (spot the beer cans!)

It has to be a drama!

Baroque?

Mother's meeting

Poker?

Refreshments

Skinship

Even the kids can 'chill.'

Main jjimjilbang area with numerous side sauna, ice rooms etc.

Jjimjilbang uniformity

Colour coordinated

Crash out - wherever!

A children's play room

Bought a Piano – Monday November 6th, 2000 (Korean Accounts 2000-2001)

Posted in Korean Accounts Part 1 by 노강호 on November 6, 2000

I bought a piano yesterday. It is a second-hand one and only cost a couple of hundred pounds which in reflection is probably a bit excessive. I had to do the whole  deal in the little Korean I’ve learnt. I had to draw a map and the nearest landmark to my house that I know is MacDonald’s. The shop owner didn’t understand this until I’d written in Korean which quite pleased me.  Then I found a video rental shop (Video bang) where videos cost an amazing thirty pence a week. The video shops, which are prolific also sell Korean manga and heterosexual soft porn.

The piano was delivered this morning and though it is fairly well in tune some of the notes have a crap mechanism. Still, I only intend to play it in order to keep my fingers in trim rather than intending to advance my ability.

I’m still aching from training and am surprised I haven’t pulled a muscle. I’ve been waiting for one to rip for a few days now and this is likely to happen as I do something inane such as turning on a tap or writing a letter. I quite fancy a sauna to relax my aches. I’ve heard there are saunas or bathhouses (the first mention of them) in town but apparently they are dubious and I don’t want to get into any embarrassing situations. I settled for a hot shower at home but I miss a bath to relax in.

Initially I was a little reluctant to play the piano as Nana was  in his room and I’m shy. It was great playing again but my fingers are lazy and some of the notes are quite stiff and hard to sound. Of course, I should have played the instrument in the shop but instead just plonked out a few scales.

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