Korean bang culture is big business. Bang means “room” in Hangul, and on the streets of cities big and small, you’ll find rooms dedicated to DVDs, PCs, karaoke ping pong and golf. But in my opinion, there’s one room that trumps the others– the jimjilbang. There’s nothing like langouring in the Korean bath house for hours on end, soaking in the hot pools, steaming to a pulp in the saunas and being scrubbed to a fine sheen by the industrious ajjumas.
The most luxurious of these bathing paradises that I know of is found in the suburbs of Seoul. Dragon Hill Spa had me oohing and aahing around every corner, as I discovered the outdoor pool, rooftop restaurant, and giant pyramid shaped saunas proclaiming “training of the mind” and filled with surprisingly passable hieroglyphics. Hot rooms filled with burning coals and cold rooms containing full sized snowmen offered respite from the bustle of Seoul, while cascading fountains and waterfalls wash away the stress of everyday life. Overwhelmed by work? Head to the jimjilbang. Feeling under the weather after a raucous night out? Jimjilbang. Stubbed your toe? You guessed it. I’ll use any reason as an excuse to soak away the afternoon in this most pleasurable of Korean rooms.