What Is Sauna in Korea? Unveiling Korean Spa Culture!

The Korean sauna, commonly referred to as a jjimjilbang, is a cornerstone of Korean culture, offering a multifaceted experience that goes beyond mere relaxation. Derived from the traditional Korean bathhouses that have been a part of the culture for centuries, jjimjilbangs are much more than just saunas; they are community hubs where people of all ages can unwind, socialize, and engage in a variety of health and wellness activities. These establishments are typically equipped with hot tubs, showers, and, of course, the saunas themselves, which are designed to promote detoxification and relaxation through the use of heat.

For those looking to create a similar atmosphere of wellbeing and community in their own commercial space, contact our team at design@am-finn.com or book a call on our work with us page! Am-finn Sauna And Steam is well-versed in the intricacies of sauna design and installation, ensuring that each custom project reflects the unique needs and preferences of the client, while also drawing inspiration from the rich cultural heritage of the Korean jjimjilbang.

Understanding what is sauna in Korea involves exploring the deep-seated traditions that make the jjimjilbang experience so unique. In the next sections, we’ll delve into the architecture, the cultural rituals, and the health benefits associated with Korean saunas, providing a comprehensive overview of why these spaces are revered not only in Korea but around the world. Stay tuned as we unveil the secrets behind the healing power of heat and community in the fascinating world of Korean spa culture.

Understanding Jjimjilbang: Korea’s Traditional Spa


Jjimjilbang is a term that may be new to the uninitiated, but it represents a long-standing tradition in Korea. These traditional spas are not just places for bathing; they offer a comprehensive wellness experience. A jjimjilbang typically includes various sauna rooms, each differing in temperature and theme. Some rooms may be lined with salt, clay, jade, or even charcoal, all of which are believed to have unique health properties. Patrons can move from room to room, experiencing the different atmospheres and therapeutic benefits.

The communal aspect of jjimjilbangs is also significant. These spaces are designed for social interaction, where families and friends can gather to relax and spend quality time together. In addition to the saunas, many jjimjilbangs feature common areas equipped with televisions, gaming rooms, and even sleeping quarters for those who wish to stay overnight. The inclusion of on-site restaurants and snack bars offering traditional Korean fare makes it possible for visitors to spend an entire day, or more, without the need to leave the comfort of the jjimjilbang.

While jjimjilbangs are deeply rooted in Korean culture, the concept is spreading globally as more people seek holistic approaches to health and wellbeing. The unique approach to relaxation and socialization found in Korean spas is becoming increasingly popular worldwide, with many seeking to replicate the experience in their own countries. This growing interest underscores the universal appeal of jjimjilbangs and the human desire for spaces that promote both physical health and social connection.

Health Benefits of Korean Sauna Experiences


The health benefits of Korean sauna experiences, particularly within jjimjilbangs, are numerous and have been touted by enthusiasts for generations. The intense heat of the sauna rooms serves to relax muscles, alleviate stress, and promote deep relaxation. The sweating process is believed to help detoxify the body by expelling impurities and stimulating blood circulation. This can lead to improved cardiovascular health, a boost in metabolism, and support for the immune system.

Regular visits to a jjimjilbang are also associated with improved skin health. The combination of heat and humidity opens pores, which assists in the natural exfoliation process and leaves the skin more radiant and clear. Some of the specialized rooms, such as salt and clay saunas, are particularly known for their skin-enhancing properties, offering additional minerals and elements that may have beneficial effects.

Moreover, the relaxation aspect of the sauna experience cannot be overstated. In a world where stress is a common ailment, the tranquil environment of a jjimjilbang offers a sanctuary where one can disconnect from daily pressures. The mental health benefits of this relaxation are paralleled by the physical relief provided by the sauna’s heat, which can soothe aches and pains, making it a favorite among athletes and those with chronic pain conditions.

It’s important to note that while many individuals report positive outcomes from their sauna experiences, it is always recommended to consult with a healthcare provider before beginning any new wellness routine, especially for those with pre-existing health conditions. Nonetheless, the allure of the jjimjilbang remains strong, drawing in those seeking both traditional and modern pathways to health and wellness.

The Social Aspect of Korean Saunas

The social aspect of Korean saunas, or jjimjilbangs, is a defining trait that sets them apart from their Western counterparts. In Korea, saunas are not just seen as a place for solitary relaxation but as vibrant social hubs where friends, families, and even business partners gather to bond and engage in communal activities. It’s not uncommon to see groups socializing in common areas, sharing meals, or watching television together. The welcoming atmosphere provides a communal space that fosters connection and community.

Within the gender-segregated areas, it’s a tradition for friends and family members to help each other with the exfoliating process known as ‘seshin.’ This practice, which involves scrubbing each other’s back, is not only a bonding experience but also an act of trust and intimacy. It highlights the importance of personal relationships and collective well-being in Korean culture.

Jjimjilbangs also serve as an important cultural space where traditional Korean customs and modern leisure activities intersect. People of all ages partake in various forms of entertainment, from playing board games and napping on heated floors to participating in group exercises. These activities reflect the Korean philosophy of harmony and balance between relaxation and social engagement, contributing to the holistic wellness experience.

The social nature of jjimjilbangs is indicative of the broader Korean culture, which values communal experiences and collective enjoyment. For visitors and expatriates, a trip to a Korean sauna is not just a health and wellness opportunity; it’s a chance to immerse oneself in the fabric of Korean social life and understand the importance of community in shaping everyday experiences.

Differences Between Korean and Western Saunas


Understanding what is sauna in Korea involves recognizing the key differences between Korean and Western saunas. Korean saunas, or jjimjilbangs, are multifaceted facilities offering a wide range of services and amenities, whereas Western saunas tend to focus on the singular experience of heat therapy. Jjimjilbangs are not only equipped with various types of hot rooms but also feature ice rooms, salt rooms, and even specialized kiln saunas with different healing properties attributed to each.

Beyond the physical structure, Korean saunas emphasize a communal experience. They are designed to be enjoyed as social venues where people spend extended periods, often even overnight. This contrasts with the Western approach, which generally promotes a quiet, individualistic atmosphere with a focus on personal relaxation and solitude during the sauna experience.

Another notable difference lies in the traditional Korean practice of ‘seshin,’ an intense, full-body exfoliation performed by a professional. While exfoliation is common in Western wellness practices, the Korean seshin is a vigorous and thorough process that is integral to the sauna experience in Korea. This cultural practice is deeply rooted in the idea of purification and renewal, both physically and spiritually.

Moreover, the accessibility and affordability of jjimjilbangs set them apart from Western saunas, which are often seen as luxury experiences. In Korea, saunas are a regular part of life for many, providing an economical option for relaxation and socialization. The inclusive nature of jjimjilbangs ensures that the benefits of sauna culture are available to a broad demographic, reflecting the egalitarian values within Korean society.

In conclusion, both Korean and Western saunas offer health and wellness benefits, but they differ significantly in their approach to sauna culture. The Korean jjimjilbang is a unique blend of tradition, community, and holistic health, providing a window into the country’s rich cultural tapestry.

Incorporating Korean Sauna Practices in the West


The growing popularity of Korean culture worldwide has sparked interest in incorporating Korean sauna practices into Western wellness routines. Health enthusiasts and spa owners alike are exploring ways to merge jjimjilbang-inspired services into their offerings. To integrate these practices, one must consider the core aspects of Korean saunas, such as the variety of thermal experiences, the community aspect, and the deep cleansing rituals.

For businesses and architects aiming to bring a touch of Korea to their spa facilities, partnering with an experienced manufacturer is crucial. Contact our team at design@am-finn.com or book a call on our work with us page to learn how Am-finn Sauna And Steam can help design and install authentic Korean-style saunas, steam rooms, and specialty spaces that cater to the Western market while preserving the essence of the Korean sauna experience.

Creating spaces that facilitate social interaction to mirror the communal nature of jjimjilbangs is one approach. This could involve designing larger sauna rooms or lounging areas where people can gather. Additionally, offering services such as the Korean seshin exfoliation can introduce clients to unique aspects of Korean self-care.

Adapting to local regulations and preferences is essential for success in Western markets. This could mean adjusting temperatures to suit Western comfort levels or offering a more private experience for those who prefer it. However, the introduction of Korean sauna elements can provide a refreshing and differentiated experience in the wellness industry.

Whether you are a luxury spa, a health club, or a sports team looking to adopt Korean sauna practices, Am-finn Sauna And Steam stands ready to assist. With our expertise in custom sauna and steam room manufacturing, we can help you bridge cultural wellness traditions seamlessly. Book a call to discuss your project’s specific needs and how to integrate Korean sauna practices into your establishment.