Around the World with DAYSPA: Korean Spas

the communal men’s shower area at Wi Spa
The communal men’s shower area at Wi Spa

It used to be that a visit to the Korean spa was something that only the most culturally adventurous among us braved. Less a temple of pampering than a place to experience extreme Asian beauty treatments and centuries-old methods of holistic healing, the Korean spa, with its functional tiled interiors and fluorescent lighting, isn’t exactly a spot in which to luxuriate. More often, it’s a place for visitors to transform themselves—through sheer force, if necessary. This culture’s traditional body scrub and acupressure facial require a hearty threshold for pain, but they do deliver the desired effect.

This tough-love approach to beauty is growing in appeal and, not so coincidentally, Korean spas are as well. In the past decade or so, these hardcore palaces have been popping up in most major cities around the nation. Today, Asian transplants to America and multicultural devotees swear by the Korean approach to preternatural good looks, renewed youth and skin as soft as a newborn’s. —By Alison Singh Gee