This article describes Korean-style saunas. Common services within the jjimjilbang are described. This article talks about Korean culture and sauna etiquette.
Employees in Korea work some of the longest hours in the world. According to tradition, most salarymen will not leave the office until the boss goes home. This situation, over along period of time, can lead to health problems caused by stress. In spite of this trend, easy recovery is available in almost every neighborhood. Public bath houses and saunas are prevalent in many different
cultures and they each posses their own styles and characteristics. Korean saunas, or jjimjilbangs, provide an inexpensive and convenient method to alleviate stress, tension, and exhaustion, while expressing unique traits of Korean culture.
Jjimjilbangs are usually found on several consecutive floors within an office building, or apartment complex. They contain a combination of hot tubs, sauna rooms, and relaxation areas. Specialty rooms may contain ice, salt, or even oxygen. Men and women share these rooms while fully clothed. Common etiquette requires people to remain quiet while inside, however outside in the common areas, normal conversation levels are fine. Other standard rules include removing shoes before entering the facility, and showering thoroughly before climbing into the segregated whirl pools, where nudity is required.
It is very common to observe entire families spending an afternoon together in the jjimjilbang. In the locker rooms, fathers bathe with their sons, and mothers with daughters. It is a very wholesome family experience which is uniquely Asian when compared with the fear of nudity that is commonly experienced in the West. Outside in the common area, several big screen TV’s are found in various spots. Crowds gather around watching popular dramas or talent shows while lounging on the heated floor. Snack bars provide tea, fruit, beer, and junk food. There is usually a small restaurant serving standard Korean food. Children can enjoy rooms with arcade games. Women can get a manicure, pedicure, or a facial treatment. Conference rooms are also available for business meetings.
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