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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Hyoso Enzyme Jjimjil Bang 효소찜질방

Depending on your digs and your penchant for long underwear, you might find it impossible to shake off that freezing cold feeling all winter, especially since this has apparently been the coldest winter in Ulsan in the past 15 years. 

If you’re finding that with the colder weather, that you just can’t stay warm, a visit to an Enzyme Jjimjil bang 효소찜질방 is the perfect remedy. Located in many places around the city, Hyoso 효소 is the new spa trend. It’s a tub, filled with traditionally prepared, Korean medicinal enzymes. It looks like a mud bath but it feels more like spongy sawdust.

 

 

Luckily I found a half price coupon on an internet coupon site, so if you have Korean friends who would be interested in going with you, it would be worth it to search for Ulsan Hyoso 울산효소 on a site like Coupang 쿠팡. A regular one-time visit is usually 35,000 won, but thanks to internet coupons you might be able to find a discount of half price. If you really like the treatment, it’s possible to buy a package of ten visits for a discount. Since 효소 is a popular new trend, with different locations quickly saturating neighborhoods, competing spas sometimes have lower package prices.

 

 

Both men and women are welcome to visit the spa, which has separate facilities for both sexes.  The location that I visited only had a total of 5 tubs, 2 for men and 3 for women, so it might be a good idea to make an advanced reservation if you’re planning on going with a group.

 

The first spa treatment may be one that you wish to cut short, or forgo completely. I had seen this contraption before and was willing to try it once.  I can say for sure that once was enough. The only way I can think of to describe it is as a medicinal barbecue of the lady parts. After disrobing, you will be given a plastic sheet with only an opening for your head. You don the plastic tarp and are then seated on a box with a hole in the middle. You are supposed to centre yourself over the hole in the middle, under which is a very warm machine that emits heat and cooks your most sensitive body parts. When you complain that it is too hot, the attendant will turn it down reluctantly, because in her opinion, it’s not really that hot. You sit naked under your tarp, cooking for 15 minutes, and then a timer will go off indicating that it’s time for you to proceed to the enzyme therapy tub. I’m sure it’s possible to skip this barbecue, repeating bulpyeonhaeyo 불편해요, “It’s uncomfortable”. Supposedly it’s good for your derriere, although I didn’t feel a difference.

 

 

You will be given a pair of disposable undies and shower cap before sitting in the enzyme tub.  The attendant will have hollowed out a space for you to lie down in, and you should do so slowly because it’s hot. Once you lie down and have adjusted to the temperature, the attendants will cover your body with more of the enzyme treatment. Let them do the covering because if you move around at all, it gets hotter and hotter. Then you lie still for 15 minutes and soak up the heat and enzyme benefits. The temperature is kept at 35 degrees. If you find it too hot, you are advised to first uncover your arms and then your legs. My feet were absolutely loving it. I don’t think I will have warm feet again until summer, unless I go back for another treatment. The rest of me didn’t mind it either. It was hot, but since I didn’t wiggle around and once I took my arms out, it was definitely bearable and kinda nice. I’m usually always hot and rarely turn the heat up high at home, so I was very surprised to be able to tolerate it so well. My Korean friend felt awful when she got out of the treatment tub. She had to sit down because she felt dizzy. I was very surprised at this because she often goes to jjimjil bangs with her family for fun. The attendant explained that people with lots of stress and/or bad liver conditions can be affected this way. I was worried about myself before we went, so I made sure to drink lots of water and eat fruit beforehand. I don’t think this treatment would be a good idea after a night of drinking because as relaxing as it is, we all know that excessive alcohol consumption leads to dehydration and can be hard on your liver.

 

 

After the 15 minutes in the enzyme treatment, we were sent off to shower. We were told to use warm water and to scrub the remaining enzyme mud/흑/soil/stuff into our skin to exfoliate before washing it off completely. Soap, shampoo, conditioner and towels were provided.

 

 

Once showered and dried, you will be provided with a shorts and t-shirt set and led to a room for a facial treatment mask. The room was warm and relaxing and after lying down on the stone floor, I was given a heavy, warm stone-filled cushion to place on my abdomen. According to traditional Korean medicine, keeping the abdomen warm is good for digestion. However, since it is apparently impossible to reap the benefit of anything unless you do it at full tilt, my comfortably warm cushion was soon replaced by a painfully hot one. Ouch. Naturally, my complaints were met with surprise. By that point I was well relaxed to the point of being antsy and looking forward to getting dressed and leaving.

I was happy to try the 효소 Hyoso enzyme treatment once, but unfortunately for my poor cold feet, they will have to make do with extra socks for the remainder of the winter.  Hyoso Jjimjil Bang are located all over the city, you should be able to find one in just about any neighborhood if you look for the sign, written in Korean. 

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