Culture Shot: The Naked Truth… About JimJilBangs

Emmet: Hey dude let’s get naked!

J: Erhm… I’m not sure about this. It seems kinda weird Emmet.

Emmet: Jamie, come on, it’ll be a laugh and so relaxing.

Finally, he relented and agreed to get naked and come to Spaland, Shinsegae. One of the best jimjilbangs (naked bath houses to the uninitiated among my readers) in Busan.

So, bright and early, at 10 AM, we got on the subway and made our way to the baths. Because, for afternoon teachers, 10AM is basically still the small hours.


What happens at a JimJilBang? I’ll let you in on it readers, don’t you fret!

JimJilBangs work in much the same way as spas do back home only minus the bathing suits, which I’m sure a lot of you are thinking makes them incredibly unhygienic but that’s where you’re wrong.

You see, as I mentioned previously, Koreans take personal hygiene very seriously. Therefore, after you enter the changing rooms and disrobed you are obliged to shower and exfoliate thoroughly with a rough-spun cloth before you go anywhere near the bathing pools.

I can hear the squeals of distaste from many of my readers already. Some at the thoughts of rough-spun anything near the dangly bits, and others at the idea of nudity among so many strangers.

Also you gotta lose the shorts Johnny!

But never fear, the crafty Koreans have thought of your discomfort and segregated the bath house into male and female. So you don’t have to worry about peeping Toms ladies… and for the Johnny Bravos among the men, I’m sorry, you don’t get to show off for the ladies!

After exfoliating to a smooth, ivory texture and deep crimson color you can choose from about 17 different kinds of pool.

Each pool having a different temperature, additive or series of jets. From salt baths, to muscle salts and natural spring water and all manner of permutations of jets to blast and caress all your aching muscles!

The temperature of the baths range from a nice 34 degrees, which I started with, right up to 49-50 degrees, while others drop as low as a manhood-shriveling 19.

Spending 5 minutes per pool is recommended but being unused to rules I took 5 minutes as more of a guideline. Like a speed limit on a motorway.

I promise this is an accurate representation of what I look like in a towel and not a picture of Jared Leto I nicked off the internet.

This was perhaps not my brightest idea as I suffered rather badly from dehydration later in the day.

I look on this as a good thing though, readers, for now I can warn you, and use my experience to make your lives easier!

J and I had assumed we would be subject to stares, given that we were the closest thing to golly bars (vanilla ice creams for those not from Ireland) in the entire place. Heck, even that title was taken from us by three other foreigners with even paler skin.

When you are done in the pools and saunas, you’re still not finished with Spaland, not by a long shot!

Once you’ve had your fill, and preened to your heart’s content using all of the expensive products in the changing rooms (knowing only through guesswork which lotion is for what appendage), you don some lovely brown pajama-like garments which you were given at reception and head to the mixed saunas and outdoor foot spa.

I’m still torn as to which aspect of the JimJilBang was most relaxing. On the one hand, we have the relative peace of the pools and steams in the first half. Then again, on the other hand, in the second half you can acceptably wander around in public in pajamas for 4 hours.

I’m going to go for the former folks. 1. Because I don’t have a problem getting my kit off, and 2. The sheer volume of cellphones and selfies in the clothed area was infuriating.

It can never be said that teenage white girls invented the selfie. I have no doubt it was invented by the Koreans.

It may be cute and inoffensive but if I have to hear the shutter sound, which cannot be silenced on Korean phones, every second of my stay in the ice room I will shatter. And not from shivering as I would like!

All in all, JilJilBang-ing is gonna be my new thing, just earlier in the morning when there are fewer teenagers. Those damn kids!


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