Being naked in Korea?

Korea has a culture where people go to public baths and are very comfortable to be naked around other people (though usually the same sex). There also isn’t any shame in undressing and changing clothes in front of friends, whereas many Western cultures have issues with that and there is a lot more ingrained shame when it comes to bodies.

Hugh does tend to be quite the nudist (maybe more than others) and once the weather is warm enough he doesn’t see the point of wearing clothes at home. Currently he is always exercising naked too. I’m sorry neighbours. But after I started talking about this on the blog, and with friends who also married into Korean families, I’ve heard that many Koreans can be quite similar in stripping off in their own home, at least down to just underwear.

I think men possibly have more freedom than women in traditional homes. Traditionally the parents’ room is also the living room which means a lack of privacy. When we lived in the countryside I never walked in on my sister in law or mother in law changing but constantly saw Hugh and my father in law in just their underwear. As a westerner who is used to parents’ rooms to be very separate and very private it was quite confronting and a big cultural difference.

Another contrast is that in Australia showing cleavage is okay and men often exercise without a shirt in public which just isn’t seen in Korea. Every country has a different expectation of what is acceptable and how much of the body is shown and where it can be shown.

I definitely think ondol heating (underfloor heating) has something to do with it. As Hugh mentioned, when there is ondol heating anywhere can be your bed because Koreans don’t usually have problems with sleeping directly on the floor. When the floor is warm and comfortable it makes sense to strip down and be the most comfortable possible. Also many Korean homes don’t have sofas or that type of furniture so everything is done down on the floor. It can be very relaxing, but I find it hard to be motivated when laying on a heated floor!

Original comic can be found here.

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