Monday, March 22, 2010

Busan, Gwangan - KA (Kwang An) Sporex

Recently, a friend of mine told me his parents own a jjimjilbang near Gwangan. We got to talking about it and I decided I ought to check it out for you. I mean, I have a list of places I need to visit, but he is my friend after all, and I wanted to see what kind of place it was.

Here's how to get there: As you exit Gwangan subway station take exit 2. On your left immediately out of the exit you'll see a large Busan band - turn left around the bank and walk straight up that hill. After you pass the Top Mart (on your right ~5 minutes from the subway) you'll see the KA Sporex on the left.

So last Sunday I headed out to see KA Sporex. Firstly, my internet searches revealed inconsistencies. The Daum local listing only categorizes this place as a sauna or mok-yok-tang, not a jjimjilbang, though a search on Naver maps will show it as a jjimjilbang. Likewise, the reviews, ratings, and few photos visible on Naver cannot be found from Daum. Despite this trouble, the KA Sporex website includes some English words to help you navigate the site and shows many photos of the rooms and facilities.

My friend had said his place was a jjimjilbang so I trusted him. Sure enough, I was handed the little brown spa clothes when I asked for them. At only 5,000 won, this is a pretty cheap jjimjilbang (7,000 overnight). 

From the locker room through the sauna everything is pretty typical. A couple special bits- shown below- are the individual tubs similar to what you might find in your house back in the West and the nicely designed hot rooms found at the back of the sauna. There are 3 small, shallow event baths which feature different herbal treatments to the water, massage tubs, and an ice bath, in addition to the usual hot tubs and showers.

Up in the jjimjilbang (3F) you'll notice it's remarkably dark. Could be a bad thing, but I thought it was nice on a lazy Sunday afternoon. If your thing is reading or studying you'll want to go up one more floor to the 4F "hyu-gae-sil" or resting area (휴게실). On this floor you can find the restaurant & snack corner, PC room, book stacks, massage, skin clinic & nail art, movie room, and sleeping rooms.

Back on the 3F jjimjilbang each room has a small window to let in a small amount of light but, like I said, don't expect to be able to read the newspaper in there! On the upside there are multiple rooms at a comfortable temperature - combined with the darkness it's the perfect place for a nap. A couple special rooms made my day: The forest room (산림욕방) which has fragrant woods lining the walls and fresh woodsy air and a similar pine room (소나무방). Sporex also offers a super-hot bulgama (fire) room, rooms with salt/charcoal, gold, yellow soil, an ice room, and two beautifully decorated stone rooms (보석방- jewelry, 마노방- agate). Best thing? The small TVs in some rooms are placed where you can easily change the program or switch them off if you want peace and quiet.

In addition to all this, KA Sporex has recently developed their 6th floor to house a health club, yoga studio and a dance/aerobics room. My friend told me that his parents felt it was important to focus on the fitness aspect of the spa in order to compete with other saunas in the area. Just from the looks of the membership packages and yoga schedule (4 classes a day weekdays & 2 on Saturday?!) I can see they're taking it seriously.

부산시 수영구 광안4동 733-23
Busan, Suyeong-gu, Gwangan 4-dong 733-23

Enter from 7am-8pm
Sauna: Adults 4,000 Children 3,000
Sauna & Jjimjil: Adults 5,000 Children 4,000

Enter from 8pm-7am
Sauna & Jjimjil: Adults 7,000 Children 6,000

Wikimapia of KA Sporex

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