Lone spa caters to K-poppers

South Korea-inspired culture is happily taken up by many local young and young-at-heart.

K-pop music and Korean television dramas fly off the shelves, and a range of Korean eatries have also set up shop. Growing demand for Korean-inspired goods and service inspired the introduction of Yangon’s first Korea-style spa, which looks to cater to the K-poppers.

Ma Shwe Po is 19 years old and a frequent consumer of all things Korean. She was something of a spa-goer already, but after watching enough of her favourite actresses and actors visiting spas in Korean film, she decided to give the Korean version a whirl.

“I was so happy to visit because I’d seen them many times on Korean dramas,” she said. “I went to visit with my friends as soon as I learned there was one in Yangon.”

Korean spas, called jjimjilbang, are popular get-aways in the northeast Asian nation for people to sweat and relax. In Korea, they usually operate 24 hours and are segregated by gender.

At Yangon’s Golden Park spa, opened last year, customers are also able to stay overnight for a slightly steeper fee – K9000 for a day visit, and K11,000 if staying overnight.

Officials from the Golden Park spa, in Yangon’s North Dagon township, said business has been brisk, although Korean and Myanmar weather is completely different.

It has over 100 staff, aiming to feel something like a small, indoor Korea. The interior could be the setting of one of the famous Korean soap operas, stuffed with products from Seoul.

Golden Park – which operates a number of other Korean-inspired businesses, such as a bar, restaurant and health and beauty enterprises – saw the opportunity to tap into trends.

“Actually, operating a sauna is not easy in Myanmar, but we operate to show Korean culture to Myanmar people,” said Ji-Hoon Park, Golden Park operation manager.

Although Myanmar outdoors can already feel like a sauna, he said customers still come to feel clean, refreshed and relaxed.

“We have difficulty, but not from the weather,” he said. “It is the electricity that is the problem. Our sauna relies on machinery, and electricity is the main problem.” Despite the power trouble, Golden Park has no plans at present to move or open another location closer to downtown.

Mr Park said it is important to provide full service and focus on one shop rather than branch out too quickly. “And we want people to relax,” he said. “The downtown area is crowded and not relaxing, so we chose to locate in the suburbs.”

Ma Wai, a periodic customer, said that while there are plenty of restaurants, cinemas and shopping malls vying for attention, Golden Park stands out as it is currently one of a kind. “I’ve been with my friends, but I visit only once every three months, because it’s a little expensive,” she said. “But it was good, and I had a pleasant time.”

Source: Myanmar Times

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