Korean Charcoal Saunas
I have been going to Korean saunas in Korea and a few in the states for decades. First introduced to them during my peace corps days.
Recently I discovered Korean Charcoal saunas. These were popular decades ago and have recently been re-discovered. They are apparently a great cure for all sorts of ailments.
They differ from traditional saunas in a number of ways. First they burn wood to make a charcoal heat that is then pumped into rooms. The temperature is much higher and drier than traditional saunas. In fact, to enter the fire room next to the fire pit, you have to wear special clothes, take off your glasses and only stay in for a few minutes at a time.
Second most do not have soaking tubs unlike traditional saunas.
Third the action is all co-ed. You take a shower in the men’s locker or woman’s locker then go out to the charcoal sauna main room.
Most have some simple food for sale as well.
The procedure is you go from low heat to high heat ending in the fire room which is closest to the fire pit. You also stand or sit outside the fire pit.
The idea is that the infrared heat will penetrate your bones and system heating you up and killing off inflation and pain. Supposed to do wonders for fibromilyagia, artists and cancer. Not to mention cholesterol and weight control, I’ve lost five pounds since I started going to the charcoal sauna a few weeks ago.
Where to Find Them?
These saunas are mostly located north of Seoul in the mountain villages of Northern Gyeongi and Gangwon province. There are a few in northern Seoul as well, including one near Yonsei University, which also has a more conventional sauna as well as the Charcoal sauna.
These saunas are very Korean-I am usually the only foreign visitor. They are friendly though and welcoming to foreign visitors. Worth a visit but you will have to go with a Korean because they are definitely off the tourist beaten path.