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Hotel Deokgu Spa
Hotel Deokgu Spa offers a wide variety of open-air spas to soak up hot spring waters against the scenic panorama of Uljin-gun, North Kyongsang Province.
Keeping the upper body part cool and the lower part warm has long been believed ideal for the sound circulation of blood and "ki" (energy) in oriental medicine.
Huh Jun, the great Choson Kingdom doctor, wrote of this principal or "tujokhanyol (ÔéðëùÎæð)" in the classic medical text "Tonguibogam." Over the years, whether through exercise, medicine or other measures, Koreans have made efforts to achieve this state.
Another option and one that many might find more leisurely, is soaking in an "onchon," or Korean-style hot spring, at one of the many hot spring resorts situated throughout the peninsula.
The first hot springs here are believed to have been discovered in Onyang, now known as Asan, in South Chungchong Province, 1,300 years ago.
Records show that the area attracted those who hoped to benefit from the famed waters, and even drew members of the Choson dynasty's royalty like Kings Taejo, Sejong and Sejo.
While the hot spring village in Asan remains a popular getaway to this day, resorts in Suanbo, North Chungchong Province, and Yusong in Taejon are also considered "hot spots" by hot spring enthusiasts.
While the water issued by the springs of Japan, or onsen, is heated by coming into contact with magma underground, in Korea where there is no volcanic activity, the water is heated by geothermal heat.
With the temperature of rocks within the earth increasing in proportion to depth, when water percolates deeply enough into the crust, it is heated as it comes into contact with hot rocks.
As heated water holds more dissolved solids, hot spring water is high in mineral content giving it great therapeutic value and making it beneficial for bathing and consuming.
For a small fee one can enjoy a day of dipping in and out of warm and soothing water that is rich in minerals against a backdrop displaying the scenic splendors of the Korean winter.
Today many resorts feature both indoor and open-air hot springs, as well as other warm-water hydro-massage facilities and special tubs with green tea, medicinal herbs and coffee blended in the water.
Some even have oriental medicine doctors, skincare specialists and masseuses or masseurs on hand for visitors to consult during their stay.
Extended stays are also possible with many resorts equipped with accommodation facilities, restaurants and recreation centers.