If you live in the global North, that is, the United States, Europe, or Canada, then nudity is seen as a taboo and is something that we aren’t used to seeing in public. But in some parts of the world, nudity is seen as something completely natural and has been demystified. In some parts of the world, where people are more open about their open and nudity, being naked is completely natural and part of socialization. This is why Korean Spa can be pretty terrifying when you go in the first time. Fear not because we are learning to tell you the unspoken rules about Korean spas.
What is Korean Spa?
They are also known as jjimjilbang and are a go-at-your own pace space where you can enjoy a plethora of wet and dry sauna, massages, Korean food, relaxing pools, and the usual amenities and skin treatment. They are usually open 24-hours as they are made for everyone to relax whenever they are free. Most Korean spas nowadays also have wifi but keep your laptop at home and your phone in the lockers, sit back, relax and enjoy the experience at a 100. Granted, if you are going to Korean spas, you’ll have to be pretty comfortable with your body (but those harabeoji/grandpas don’t care about their looks but are there to relax) and public nudity. But rest assured, those harabeoji and ahjumma (Korean words for auntie) who are in the corner don’t really care about you. They are there to relax, forget their mundane life, and use the spa’s amenities.
Rules you should follow:
1. Come clean
Come in without makeup because you’ll have to remove it there anyway, so it’s better if you don’t waste your money by doing your makeup prior to going to the spa. Don’t try to act cute; no one is going to look at you, and no one will care about your presence there. When you reach the spa, the first thing you’ll do is get naked and hit the showers (because hygiene matters), and then you are ready to go into the sauna and relaxing pools, and you can do this forever or until you leave. Also, keep your phone in the locker. Why? Because it’s creepy for someone to have their phone where everyone is naked and because you’ll be in water or steam all day, which can be really damaging to your phone.
2. Naked and don’t be shy
You’ll literally have to get nude, both physically and spiritually, because you’ll be related to your cores there. Strip down and act as if no one is there because you’ll have to get comfortable with being fully nude around strangers (mostly older people). At first, it will be shocking and weird, and then it won’t; it takes time to ease into the water of Korean spas. Don’t try to wear your underwear inside because you will be publicly shouted at and shamed by their spa workers. Just adopt the attitude of it is what it is and go with the flow. Also, everyone is going to be naked, and you’ll see a ball or boob even if you are not looking, but it is the name of the game. You’ll make eye contact, but you’ll survive because most of them don’t care about you. Don’t stare at people but also don’t fix the floor because they are just bodies, and we need to desexualize that body parts are inherently sexual.
3. Oil scrub
You don’t have to get the oil scrub, but you are going there to treat yourself, so get that oil scrub. It is the highlight of Korean spas, and it’s the most thorough rub down you’ve ever had in your life, and it’s with the occasional wince, and sometimes you’ll feel like they are taking your skin out, and some times they really are talking some of your skin, but it’s so good. This gets rid of all your dead skin, but it is a touch invasive, and you’ll have to be able to get over that; if you can’t, don’t do it. If you do tho, it will leave you tension-free, and your skin will be silky smooth and as smooth as a baby’s butt.
4. Keep the peace and know your limit
No, when to go home, don’t wait until your skin is raisined up and raw for you to leave the spa. You can leave once your body tells you to do so, and you’ll see that not all tubs are the same temperature; some will be like the boiling seas of hell while others will be more tempered. So, listen to your body and know when to tap out. Also, there is a vibe at Korean spas, and your need to respect that. People of all ages go there to relax, and they don’t need to hear you yapping. While it is a social activity for some, it is also not a party, so silence is key. So go with your friends, detox together but keep the chatter to the bare minimum.
Korean spa is the ultimate exercise in confidence, so be ashamed of your body because no one is probably looking at you, and it is a way for you to feel confident in your body. You do you because it’s a judgment-free zone. Sound off in the comments section below and tell us if you’ve ever been to a Korean spa.