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I was reminded of something I treat as a normal experience or activity on a weekly basis these days as “not so normal” back home in the U.S. Where most of the U.S.A. is relatively homophobic at least in most public arenas mind gay friendly areas of the U.S. like San Francisco, Korea and many Asian countries have very little problem with the boys hanging out naked in the hot springs or sauna. On top of that, Koreans quite regularly “exfoliate” the old or dirty skin they accumulate over time. They call it “Deh-Meehlr-ee” or 때밀이 in Hangul (Korean characters).
In order to “ex-foliate,” they usually sweat it up a little in the 48 degree Celsius hot bath or the 80-90 degree Celsius saunas or steam rooms first. Without this perspiration, your skin fails to become “ready” for a good “exfoliation.” After they do this, they get on a massage table naked and a guy (if you’re in the men’s side) naked or sometimes in a big diaper takes scrubbing gloves and literally scrubs you down a bit. In a western massage or the equivalent, the masseuse would probably be sensitive to avoid the genital areas, but let’s say the guys in these “mok-yok-tangs” or 목욕탕’s have no problems “handling your jewels” as if they were their jewels.
The first few times I did it, it was a bit uncomfortable. When I was growing up as a kid, my mom did it to me and I hated it. However, now with the fact I’m aging and that a good rub down really makes you feel “clean”, I love these. On top of the feeling of feeling extra hygenic, the guy usually gives you a little massage (which may be hard to get used to at first), a bit of lathering up with soap at the end and today, I experienced for the first time, the lathering up my hair too with some menthol laced shampoo. I know that Koreans use some sort of menthol cream to “activate” or reduce the irritation in the scalp at hair salons — I was manipulated into buying it at the beauty salon in my building…I wished my Korean was a bit weaker that day…I shouldof acted like I didn’t understand. Oh, here’s the kicker: it’s costs a whopping $12 bucks or so for the 30 minutes or so. So, that’s the reason I’ll do it usually at least once a month, if not twice if I have the time…these days, I’ve been missing out and only able to get it done once every two months. I wish I had more free time. 🙂