Korean Dramas and Bath Houses

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Bath houses in Korea (known as “JjimJilBang“) must be a big thing, because they show up in almost every Korean drama I’ve watched. Secret Garden, Brilliant Legacy, You’re Beautiful…they all have some element of bath-house-dom. I’m definitely not complaining; I’m just seeking some understanding of this phenomenon.

So what is its significance? Here in the states (and keep in mind, this is just a case study of one person), bathing is a private ritual. I have no desire to bring my girlfriends with me whenever I feel the need to clean. But what I’ve learned from these Korean dramas is that bathing is a community event. You can bathe, eat, and sleep at bath houses, with friends or strangers. What a concept!

I am now on a life-changing mission to keep a running list of all Korean dramas that include bath house scenes. City Hunter is currently the drama I’m watching—and yes, you guessed it—bath houses in this one, too! Can you name a few more?

Image source: by Taekwonweirdo from Flickr.

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3 Responses to “Korean Dramas and Bath Houses”

  1. Bathhouse says:

    Ok reading this remind me of my Caucasian male friend who told me what his experience was like in a Korean bathhouse. It was a disbelief and just beyond uncomfortable. He went through the entire process though including soaking his body in water for a long time and having the scrubbing man scrub all over his naked body as well as the private part. A lot of dark dead skin called in Korean, DDEA or TTEA came off and he felt very refreshed afterwards, but it was nonetheless an extremely uncomfortable experience for him.

    As a Korean who grew up in Korea, my bathhouse trips were frequent. Now that I live in the States, I can’t do it so often but I still manage to go for it once a year, that is in the Spring time when the weather starts getting warm. The idea is to take off all the dirty TTEA and smooth the skin as I’ll be showing off more skin with the warming weather.

    Two things I want to point out here as someone who understands both the sense of feeling extreme discomfort by westerners and the sense of the need Koreans are having for the fresh clean refreshed body and mind.

    My first point sums up to this: Mind over matter; Things are all in our own head, Heard mentality – once others do it believe me you’ll be fine with it too; Go back to basic – after all we all are from the Basics; We all have the same breast and penis. This kind of mentality is in Koreans more so than western people when it comes to physical part of lives. Frequent bumping into each other on the Seoul street also can be said originated from this mentality. It’s looked with more ease. Mental/emotional part of lives of Koreans however is a whole different story and in many ways more sensitivity is given to it than that of the westerners. If you feel Korean people very pleasant, accommodating and understanding, it’s because of this reason.

    My second point is the raw benefit of scrubbing Ttea off your skin. The difference before and after is remarkable. The skin becomes much more smooth. For Koreans, it’s incomprehensible to carry on throughout life time the dead skin on your skin. It doesn’t feel good, unhealthy and affects your mind. I’m a female and here’s my interesting personal experience. With someone who I went out, who was close to 50, a westerner, on the first night with him, what I immediately noticed was how rough and sandy his skin was. It was an obvious accumulation of the dead skin for the long 50 years. Of course anyone’s skin will become sandy and rough without taking the TTEA off for so long. He needed a real good bathhouse trip. :)

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