All Korean-run saunas and bathhouses have pool permits.. No public bath permit codes are applied to the authorities.
Emergency phone life tubes and no diving signs should be hung next to public baths.
Gimbap and more Not enough to bridge the gap in cultural understanding despite the Korean Wave craze
It has been confirmed that saunas run by Koreans have obtained swimming pool permits for public baths.
The reason why bathtubs in public sauna received swimming pool permits was that county inspecters were ignorant of Korean bathing culture, so they applied a pool permit rules most similar to a bathtub.
Doraville’s ‘Roman Holiday’, which recently received a temporary sauna permit, received a swimming pool permit from Dekalb County for the use of public sauna.
Ms. Hur, the owner of Roman Holliday, said in December of last year, “I followed the requests from Dekalb County, but it is absurd that the swimming pool use permit was applied.”
The requirements of Dekalb County were to install a wired emergency phone near the bathtub in case of an emergency, to place a No-Diving sign and life-saving tube, and to deploy safety guard.
Regarding this, Ms. Hur said, “I did everything they was told. When I finished it, it was a bit strange. Moreover, we need to find a safety guard… It was a really difficult problem,” she said.
As a result of checking the permits of nearby saunas by the Global News Today, all of them had swimming pool permits, and there were life-saving tubes around the bathtubs.
The Korean owner of another sauna said, “Isn’t there a way? There are no specific regulations for public baths in the county, so it seems that the inspectors are asking for it because they think it is similar to a swimming pool. There was nothing else to discuss,” he said.
In the end, the owners thought it was strange, but they got all the saunas with swimming pool permits.
Dekalb County and Gwinnett County did not have specific regulations for permitting Korean-style sauna with public bathtubs.
Since there is no corresponding code, the inspectors in charge also followed the swimming pool permit standard, which focuses on safety and drainage.
Moreover, in the case of Roman Holiday, one more item was added.
Concerned about safety issues, it was a requirement to make a lid on the bathtub.
Ms. Hur said, “The authorities are asking for it, so there is nothing we can do… I finally put the lid on. Even explaining it was reckless.”
Eventually, after installing a lid on the bathtub, a temporary permit was issued for the sauna.
In the early 2000s, in Gwinnett County, Korean marts and restaurants were banned from selling Gimbap and rice cakes.
The reason an inspector from the County Food and Health Department revealed was that storage at room temperature lowers freshness, so either improve freshness preservation methods such as freezing, or make and sell whenever an order comes in, rather than making it in advance.
In the end, it took quite a bit of time to get permission to sell rice cakes and Gimbap.
K-pop, K-food, and kimchi are widely known due to the recent Korean culture (Hanryu or hallyu) craze blowing around the world, but the level of understanding of Korean culture is very low.
Korean bathing culture is one of them.
In the end, it is a matter of public awareness, but at least a process of explaining it one-to-one to related public inspectors is necessary, and it needs the business owner’s English proficiency in the field to prevcent to being a possibility of misunderstandings in the process of explaining.
For this reason, it is necessary for Koreans to advance to state legislators, city council members, and county commissioners who make laws.
The video below is a video of the famous American talk show host Conan O’Brien and ‘Minari’ main character Steven Yeon’s Korean style sauna called ‘Jjimjilbang’ experience.
If the related inspectors, authorities and American neighbors watch this video, they will easily understand the bathing culture, one of the living cultures of Korean, and it can be a tool to narrow the cultural understanding gap. Let’s spread it to our American acquaintances.
<By Eugene Lee>
Continued in the next issue.