Why Does Korea Have Public Baths?

1. Didn’t have a space at home

To wash their hair or lightly wash their body, people had to pour water in a bowl
and mix with boiled water to adjust the water temperature.

Until the 1970s – 80s, many Korean households didn’t have enough space to take a shower at home. People had to go to a public bath to thoroughly wash their bodies. A lot of people went to a public bath once a month or the day before a special day, such as Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) and the first day of school, because they couldn’t afford the fee.

2. Expensive gas price

It was in the 1980s when modern bathrooms and boilers* began to be built in households. But still, the price of gas (for a boiler) was too expensive. Many people had to go to a public bath to take a shower.

3. Good memory

Many Koreans have good memories of going to a public bath with their parents and grandparents. It’s a great time to bond with family. They usually rub each other’s backs because you can’t rub your back yourself. Even though people these days can easily take a shower at home, they are still used to going to a public bath.

4. Get scrubbed

People get a body scrub when going to a public bath. Once you start, you kind of get addicted. It can be no good for your skin if you do it too much, but getting it occasionally makes your skin softer 🙂

Today’s Public Bath

In 2022, there are about 6,269 saunas in Korea. Sadly, 
the number keeps decreasing as COVID-19 has changed ㅅhe norm. Some people started to avoid places where 
they can encounter random people naked, share things, and get into the same bath.

There are two types of Korean saunas

1. 목욕탕 (mok-yok-tang) public bath

– Visit on a daily basis (weekly or bi-weekly)
– Take a shower
– Soak in a hot bath
– Get scrubbed
– Eat snacks and drinks

2. 찜질방 (jjim-jil-bang) dry sauna

– Started in the mid 1990s
– Visit from time to time
– Relax and take a nap
– Eat snacks and drinks
– 목욕탕 is included|- Use dry saunas

???? Questions for UoH Friends :

☑️ Does your country have a public bath?

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