A steam bath room at Sinheung Seawater Steam Baths in Hampyeong, South Jeolla
Interview with Jung Yeong-gi, owner of Sinheung Seawater Steam Baths
I’ve spent my whole life managing this place. Hampyeong is located right on the coast and has an abundance of mud flats full of natural minerals. In the 1960s, most homeowners in Hampyeong had bathing wells in front of their houses for hot seawater steam baths. People would often take a soak to treat skin problems or for postpartum care.
I started Sinheung Seawater Steam Baths in the 1960s. Back then, I was only able to be open from May to July, when the weather wasn’t too hot or cold because the bath was outdoors. It was only during the 1970s that I was able to install the facilities I have today.
To heat the seawater, which I collect with a hose from the sea nearby, I put sulfurous rocks, heated up in wood fires, into large bathtubs. The water is then mixed with medicinal herbs before it is poured into the bath.
The water is extremely hot, so visitors are advised to wait 40 to 50 minutes before they fully immerse themselves in the water. I usually recommend that they just sit next to the tub, lightly wetting sore areas, like the feet or knees. Taking a seawater steam bath is a great way to rid the body of toxins and relax.
There is another place near Dolmeori Beach, where my bathhouse is located, that is also famous for seawater steam baths called Jupo Seawater Steam Baths.
We both get lots of repeat customers, many of whom return dozens or even hundreds of times. These days, we have a lot of young people visiting as well, saying that they heard that seawater steam baths are good for their skin.