Canadian Press Picks up Korea's Social Sweating Parlors

The Canadian daily Toronto Star ran an article in its travel feature section Saturday describing Korea's jjimjilbang culture -- which ranges from small brick Korea-style saunas to vast emporiums integrating restaurants, multi-gyms and even Internet cafes -- complete with photographs.

The paper said the jjimjilbang appeared to have more functions than a simple health club, and were becoming a space where several groups could come together and relax.

The piece advised foreigners to visit the jjimjilbang, explaining that while it was easy to think of them as cheap spas or saunas, entering provided patrons with first-hand experience of a unique Korean cultural phenomenon for under US$10.

Jjimjilbang, which are usually open 24-hours a day, have been springing up over the last couple of years providing Koreans with a place to rest and sleep, and because of this, they attract a variety of customers, from out-of-town travelers to spouses seeking a night's refuge after a quarrel. Young lovers also head there to spend time together in a relaxing environment.

The newspaper pointed that unlike North American spas, jjimjilbang come replete with televisions and an assortment of food options, and hence are sought out by whole families.

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 12, 2004 16:33 KST