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Hello Dragon Hill Spa!

December 27, 2009

I could have spent Christmas day in my house moping and watching tv but I was convinced to spend the day in a pretty well known spa in Yongsan. A friend and I found the spa online and figured a day of facials, massages and sitting in hot tubs/saunas would be perfect on a freezing day. We got in our comfiest clothes and headed out.

We thought about just how lucky we were to have the spa open on Christmas and maybe to ourselves. But instead of being sparsely populated, the place was absolutely packed. And, unlike the spas back home, our spa experience included prepping for the sauna by getting naked and showering amongst probably 100 or so Korean women and children. They were all naked too so I guess that part was ok however being the only non Korean there, my friend, Lena, and I got stared at so intensely that it felt like the most frightening part of one of those naked in public nightmares. I’m sure we drew worse attention by giggling nervously and getting lost while trying to get our massages. After a long sports massage and facial mask we signed up for a “hip washing” which consists of sitting in a moomoo while some kind of herbal steam fills it from under a chair. It was weird but we got to watch Korean soap operas and drink tea so it worked out.

There were several pools of hot water to hang out and soak in – there was a salt water bath, a really hot bath, all kinds of showers and saunas, and jacuzzis. We navigated screaming soapy children, old ladies and stressed out moms to try all the baths and got full body scrubs. The body scrub consisted of lying on a table while an old lady scrubs you raw with a brillo pad. It sounds awful because it mostly is but it’s just one of those things one has to do at the jjimjilbang

After the initial shock of being naked in public (the kind where no ne else looks even kind of like you), it’s a really nice time. The pools were hot and calm, everyone was friendly and helpful and the whole spa seemed to serve as a sort of bonding, recreational area for families. Entire families parked on the heated floor near a snack area and had mini singing and dancing contests. Some people slept, other people played cards.

I’d definitely go back as it’s one of the few actual hot places in Seoul right now. I’m not sure how much longer I can deal with these single digit temperatures without another trip to the balmy spa..

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. nzaslow permalink
    December 28, 2009 6:55 am

    After my equally awkward experience at at Hongdae jimjilbang, I will never ever take a late night taxi home again. The sauna is the warmest place on earth, and is super nice after a night out. It is weird though, to look nothing like anyone else there.

    • aukissed permalink*
      December 28, 2009 10:33 am

      Wow, there’s a serious story behind that taxi deal. I’m not sure I went through that exactly, you may have upped me on awkward points.

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