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Naked Korean Men
August 14, 2006

Who is this guy and what is he smiling about?

I don't know this guy and I've never seen him naked (I'm straight...I swear!), but it was the quickest photo on the Internet that I could find without searching too long.  I was afraid of what I might find...the Internet is a scary place you know!

Anyway, I wanted to regal on a different experience that I go through that I doubt many Americans have had the chance to do.  I go to the gym three times a week and the gym is essentially just like an American gym.  It has stationary bikes, running machines, weights, Cybex machines, etc.  One difference is the trainers are free, which is very cool.  They'll help you with whatever you want whenever you start and afterwards if you ask.

Another difference is the shower area.  I've seen and been in communal shower areas before (I was in the U.S. Navy), but shower and cleaning yourself is very different here in Korea.  Most Koreans believe that a simple shower doesn't really clean your body that well.  They like to sit on a plastic stool in front of a row of short showers with movable shower spraying heads.  They also scrub themselves with special scrubbers to get rid of dirt and layers of dead skin.

There are also small pools of water, at different temperatures to relax in, as well as 3 different types of saunas; steam, wood, and stone.  I recently sat and relaxed in the hot pool (there's very hot & cold too) with 5 naked Korean men and there's often naked Korean men in the sauna when I relax there as well.  I just looked around (while not looking down!) and thought to myself..."I wonder in this whole world, at this very moment, how many fat ugly Americans are sitting in a hot pool of water with 5 naked Korean men?"  I was certain I was the only one...

Another side story about the differences between most Koreans and Americans.  Most Koreans are very kind, polite, and gentle.  In the locker room, there's a vending machine where you may purchase toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, etc.  As I nakedly walked past the machine, a Korean man (naked of course - everyone is always naked here!) was standing there perplexed as his toothbrush hung delicately caught in the turning mechanism at the top of the machine.  He lightly tapped the glass almost "whimpering" at it to drop.  I continued to walk past him knowing he'd eventually figure out what to do.  As I past that area later, he was still standing there with sadness in his eyes and still lightly tapping the glass.

I walked over and "SHOOK" the whole machine and the toothbrush fell to it's rightful place.  He said "thank you" and I smiled and walked off to the showers.  It's the American way.  If something doesn't work...shoot it, hit it, or shake the hell out of it!

What I learned today about Korea:  1)  I'm spreading American love baby!