The Jjim Jil Bang is a korean spa popular with men, women, and children for leisure and relaxation. Many believe the relaxation properties are also good for one's health. The spa itself is usually sectioned off into both gender segregated and communal areas. Jjim Jil Bangs are popular in Korea and with the number of immigrants living in the United States, it's popularity has been brought to the US. Here in Southern California, the korean spa is now becoming more and more popular with the non-Korean population as was exhibited by the large party of young Caucasian women celebrating a bachelorette party during my last visit to one.Credit: www.ispaus.com
My last visit was to a Jjim Jil Bang in Irvine, CA with a close girlfriend of mine. With our spa toiletry caddies in hand, we approached the receptionist desk, paid the day spa fee, received our spa wear (pink loose t-shirt and baggy shorts and rubber slippers - gray for men) and locker key. We then proceeded to the women's section of the spa. Upon entering this section, we put our street shoes away in the shoe lockers located right by the door and then changed into our spa clothes in a different section of the women's locker room. Because our arrival coincided with lunch time, we decided to have lunch first. The common areas typically contain a restaurant, heated floors, televisions, treatment rooms, etc and are enjoyed by all. We each consumed a traditional dish, drank lots of water, and then started our rotation within the treatment rooms. One can reserve specific treatments such as a body scrub (personal favorite of mine) or Western style massages (depending on the facility) but during this visit we decided to enjoy the different treatment rooms that were included in the day pass and forego the body scrubs. Credit: www.ispaus.comThis particular spa had 5 different rooms: Fire Room, Sudatorium (sweat room), Himalayan Salt Room, Forest Room, and Ice Room. We spent a few hours circulating between the rooms and took breaks in between by laying out on the heated marble floor (resulting in napping).Credit: www.ispaus.com
Once we'd had enough of the treatment rooms, we left the common area and headed back to the women's section. This section had additional resting areas with loungers as well as the three different jaccuzi tubs (hot, warm, cold), dry sauna, steam room, showers, and mirrored vanity area. We spent an another hour in the hot tubs, dry sauna, and steam room. From there we showered, in which the toiletry caddy came in handy, and got ready in the vanity area. In the gender specific sections, it is common to use the facilities in the nude so some may find that aspect uncomfortable.
There are two theories of origin. The first one dates back to the royal chronicles of the Joseon Dynasty in the 15th century which references two individuals, one from a medical school and one from a public hospital, chosen and sent to Hanjeungso,which would be similar to a Jjim Jil Bang and considered a private medical clinic. The second theory was that people entered a pottery or charcol kiln which remained hot after the baking of pottery or charcol. The infrared rays from the red clay and germanium were thought to be medically benficial.