Jjimjilbang

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Jjimjilbang sign in Apgujeong, Seoul

A Jjimjilbang (Hangul: 찜질방; hanja: 찜질房) is a large, gender-segregated public bathhouse in Korea, furnished with hot tubs, showers, Korean traditional kiln saunas and massage tables. Jjimjil is derived from the words meaning heated bath. However, in other areas of the building or on other floors there are unisex areas, usually with a snack bar, ondol-heated floor for lounging and sleeping, wide-screen TVs, exercise rooms, ice rooms, heated salt rooms, PC bang, noraebang, and sleeping quarters with either bunk beds or sleeping mats. Many of the sleeping rooms can have themes or elements to them. Usually Jjimjilbangs will have various rooms with different temperatures to suit guests' preferred relaxing temperatures. The walls are decorated with different woods, minerals, crystals, stones, and metals. This is to make the ambient mood and smell more natural. Often the elements used have traditional Korean medicinal purposes in the various rooms.

Most jjimjilbangs are open 24 hours and are a popular weekend getaway for Korean families. During the week, many hardworking Korean men, whose families live out of the city for cost savings, stay in Jjimjilbangs overnight after working or drinking with co-workers late into the night; the cost is 6,000–10,000 South Korean won to enter, and one can sleep overnight, enjoy the bathhouse and sauna, and wake up fresh and ready to travel the next morning. Jjimjilbangs are also popular with Korean women, and traditionally, Korean mothers used to take care of themselves in rooms made of loess (called "Yellow Mud" in Korean) for three weeks before giving birth.[1]

Orientation[edit]

Jjimjilbang usually operate 24 hours a day. In front of the entrance, there are the doors titled “men” or “women” and shoes are to be stored using a given key. Once inside, the shoe locker key is to be exchanged with another locker key to store clothes and belongings. Afterwards bathers walk into the gender-segregated bathhouse area and take a shower. Then, it is supposed to be dressed in jjimjilbang clothes (usually a T-shirt and shorts) received with the locker key.

In a bathing area, there are different kind of kiln saunas with a varying themes including a jade kiln, a salt kiln, a mineral kiln: the dome-shaped inside walls of klin rooms are plastered with jade powder, salt and mineral respectively. and a series of kiln with different temperatures ranging from 60 to 100 degrees Celsius. The temperature sign outside the kiln is given before the entrance.

Jjimjibang Culture-Sheep Head[edit]

It is common that people in Korea wear sheep-shape towel in Jjimjibang. Steps of Making "Sheep Head":

1. Fold towel length-ways 3 times

2. Fold the ends over themselves until secure

3. Turn over and find opening

4. Pull opening apart till head sized

5. Place on head [2]

Hygiene[edit]

Jjimjilbangs are always kept in a very sanitary condition for the overall health of patrons, and most are cleaned continuously. No harsh chemicals are used in the waters or saunas.

All wet areas prohibit the use of clothing for safety reasons. With the extreme heat of the baths and steam rooms, it is believed that toxic chemicals can leach out of apparel and into the body. It is also believed that if you wear a swimsuit or cover up you may be trying to hide a disease.

Recently, the hygienic quality and healthiness of some jjimjilbangs were questioned, especially the proper washing of clothing provided by the jjimjilbangs. Concerns about the clothes increasing atopy symptoms in patients, or even of accidentally hosting parasites, were voiced, although the evidence was inconclusive.[3]

Food[edit]

Sikhye
Miyeok. guy (Seaweed soup)
  • Iced Sikhye is a popular drink sold in jjimjilbangs. It normally costs 1,000–2,000 won.
  • Baked eggs (맥반석) are another popular snack. These are slow-cooked in the hottest sauna. The spots on the outside of the eggs are the cholesterol that slowly leaches out during the baking process, making them a cholesterol-free snack. They are eaten like a hard-boiled egg(삶은 계란).
  • Miyeok guk
  • Patbingsu
  • Iced coffee

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Jjimjilbang: a microcosm of Korean leisure culture". koreaherald.com. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "Sheep Head (양머리)". Randomwire. Randomwire. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "건강을 위한 첫걸음 - 세균 천국 찜질방, 위생상태 비상!!". hidoc.co.kr. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 

External links[edit]