When I Discovered the Korean Spa

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In my previous blogs, I’ve written about how my same-sex attraction (SSA) brought about an obsession with nudity, leading me down nudism paths which ultimately led me down many unhealthy paths.

Would this odd obsession with nudity lead me anywhere worthwhile?

After finding that most nudists I met online were flakey or only interested in sex (not to slam all nudists; just the ones in my experience), I began to despair. I still had no close friends or any men with whom to be authentically open and vulnerable.

But, thankfully, God heard my pain and my prayers.

I met a few other “Side B” men online, and much to my shock they had similar stories as mine. They also experienced complicated interests with nudity and had experimented with nudist sites. They, too, had reached out to nudist men online, only to be sucked into a world of sex thinly veiled as mutual vulnerability.

We became very close since we all stood on the same page with our sexualities, and we felt safe practicing mutual nudity in a healthy way as acts of vulnerability and intimacy with no sex.

The other guys told me about the Korean spa — places with gender-segregated saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms, nudity-required per Korean tradition — and how those experiences helped them.

This sounded like something right down my alley.

The first time I went to a Korean spa was an eye-opening experience even though I’d had similar experiences at the nude resorts. Once we stripped down and walked into the spa area, it struck me just how casual the atmosphere was. All the men were naked and just relaxing, doing their own thing.

A calm came over me that made me realize I didn’t care who saw me naked. I felt that myself, my friends, and all the men inside were equals now.

Physically, I felt very relaxed as well, hopping around to the different pools, steam rooms, saunas, and hot tubs, letting the jets relax my anxiety-cramped muscles. All sorts of people were at the Korean spa — not just Koreans. Older men and their young children, some boys in their teens, and quite a few guys my age, too.

At long last, I felt I’d found a proper place for mutual healthy nudity with men.

You’re probably wondering why a group of SSA guys would willingly get naked in front of each other and other men at the Korean spa? Wouldn’t that be super triggering?

While I may have previously secretly gotten off on the idea of being naked with friends, I’ve since realized that I love and respect my fellow SSA friends so much that I would never eroticize my naked experiences with them. Not even in private. I have held true to my word, and I know they have done the same as I trust them with all my heart.

I will say that nudity is not for everyone. If you feel too uncomfortable or believe it will make you act out, then I’d advise against it.

Public nudity will not “fix” you of your struggles, as I still have mine even after my nude experiences. Additionally, if you wish to get naked for the sake of titillating yourself or titillating others, then it’s best not to do it — or, at least, readjust your intentions.

Most importantly, it should not be considered a “requirement” to experience physical nakedness with your friends to be considered close. You can be extremely close with another guy without ever seeing him naked (although “emotional nakedness” should be required).

I have never seen some of my closest friends physically naked, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

However, I believe nakedness to be a healthy expression of closeness with a friend. It’s a very liberating experience to be naked in front of a friend and know you won’t be judged, laughed at, or lusted after.

Nudity is very much a strong act of love and trust between friends. Especially if those friends are SSA and could very easily eroticize the moment — but don’t.

At the Korean spa, I felt the sobering realization that most of the men there were not all that different from me.

I realized we all have the same equipment downstairs, and 80% of the men I saw were average in the penis-size department.

I also started to realize that most men — under their clothes — aren’t the Adonis portrayed in movies or porn. Sure, there are some differences but I’ve learned it’s okay and appreciate myself more.

These are lessons even straight men can benefit from.

We all need to learn to appreciate our bodies. We must remember they are gifts given to us by God the creator, made in his own image.

We must not look at our bodies as shameful things we possess, inherently bad, even though they are flawed. And we must not treat our bodies as objects of lust either. It’s hard when society keeps saying that all nudity is inherently sexual when, in my belief, it is not.

C.S. Lewis says this in Mere Christianity:

I know some muddle-headed Christians have talked as if Christianity thought that sex, or the body, or pleasure, were bad in themselves. But they were wrong. Christianity is almost the only one of the great religions which thoroughly approves of the body—which believes that matter is good, that God Himself once took on a human body, that some kind of body is going to be given to us even in Heaven and is going to be an essential part of our happiness, our beauty, and our energy.

I echo Lewis’s sentiments and believe that the body is good and we should treat it with respect.

In closing, I do not and never have considered myself a “nudist,” and I’ve left those old nudist sites behind. They’re ghostly echoes from my past that I’ve learned from; they’ve made my story uniquely me.

Who needs nudists when you can have bros anyway?

Have you ever visited a Korean spa? What was your experience? Do you fear going to a Korean spa or have reservations about visiting one? Why or why not?

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  • Using the public showers at the gym has been quite healing for me and has helped me feel more validated.

    • At Peace

      Thank you for sharing that. Growing up in a staunch religious atmosphere (which I never could be apart of), caused me to realize that forbidding to not do a thing because of what the Mosaic Law said was not right. I had to experience my own “sin”, and to discover what it meant to be human, to be a sinner, to need a saviour and finally to need a Father. I stripped down, not to tempt God, but because I was desperately lonely and found that the Church was inadequate to deal with my needs. And how can the Church deal with anything if it’s blind and sick? How can the Church deal with issues that it continues to turn a blind eye, or sticks it’s head in the sand? There are millions of men worldwide who are gay, and just as many who do not want the feelings of sexual attraction toward their own gender. I massaged guys in the nude, but I didn’t want to have sex with them, I just wanted to feel that I was human and the need to express myself “sexually” was just to feel another man against me. I already had plenty of sex with men and found that to be empty. I eventually left the massaging because my clients wanted sex. But the experience kept pushing me toward my need for the Lord. I thanked Him every time I went to see a guy to massage and thanked Him for it after. Sounds unorthodox I know, but I don’t travel down stream, I go against the current, against the grain of this modern Church world. PTL

      • You bring out several very valid points here—most notably this one, which I have often made myself:

        “I was desperately lonely and found that the Church was inadequate to deal with my needs. And how can the Church deal with anything if it’s blind and sick? How can the Church deal with issues that it continues to turn a blind eye, or sticks it’s head in the sand?”

        I think the first thing I remind myself of, with regard to this issue, is that it is the Lord of the church, and not the church itself, which must ultimately be the central focus of having all of our needs met. Of course we hope to find the character of our Lord within those people we gather together with, in corporate worship to our Lord. But they are broken people just as much as we are, and also in search of having their own needs met by people like you and I, who probably fail to grasp the full depth of their individual OSA brokenness, just as much as they fail to grasp ours.

        Biblically speaking, however, the Word is very clear on our fellowshiping together with other believers, for our mutual encouragement:

        “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
        – the Apostle Paul, Hebrews 10:24-25

        Seems to me that if I desire to see any change in church, then it has to begin with me! If I truly want my brothers and sisters in Christ to understand our SSA issues, then I have to be willing to become vulnerable enough to open up and share about them with other people… And of course, that is always easier said than done! But it is the reality of the “place” we are at within the Body of Christ, inside of the sexualized post-modern walls our Western culture, nonetheless.

        Another thing you said that captured my full attention, was this:

        “I had to experience my own ‘sin,’ and to discover what it meant to be human; to be a sinner, to need a saviour and finally to need a Father.”

        Ironically, the eisest man who ever lived said something strikingly similar, in his own book of ponderings:

        “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.”
        – King Solomon, Ecclesiastes 2:10a

        Of course, that same wise man also came to this eventual and very vital conclusion, within that very same book of ponderings:

        “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:
        Fear [be in awe of] God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
        – Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

        I applaud your quest for meaningful truth, with regard to your faith in Christ, my brother. I have been on many “unorthodox” quests of my own, and also thanked God for every inanswered truth that He enabled me to find along the way. And I can thing of a few “unorthodox” stories in the Bible where God did some very unexpected things to get a point across… having his prophet take the villiage prostitute as his wife, for example!
        (that’s found in the Book of Hosea)

        The bottom line for you, brother, is that, “To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand,” (Romans 14:4b). So, orthodox or not, just keep hearing the Holy Spirit as you journey on, and we will see each other there on the other side of this life, when we also meet our Lord.

        Godspeed!

  • Brad

    I would love to go to a Korean spa – sounds liberating. Where do I sign up?

    • Eugene Heffron

      Haha well you can google to see if there happen to be any in your area.

  • I was actually stationed in South Korea for three years, with the US Army. And I sooooo completely agree with everything you’ve brought out into the light here, Eugene!

    The first time I went to the Korean Spa, it was actually my Korean landlord who invited me to go. I counted it as an honor that, as an American foreigner to their culture, he though highly enough of me to have invited me into one of the most traditional aspects of their very male-dominant culture.

    And just like you described… it was all so calming and unsexualized! I went several times with him, and enjoyed the experience every time.

    On one of those trips, as we sat in the sauna room, another elderly Korean man actually sat came in and down right next to me, looking me up and down from head to toe. Then he reaches over, grabs the top of my thigh and gives it a firm squeeze with his hand and asks, “hundred kilo?” (wanting to know how much I weighed, given I had a much larger frame than he did). He was just curious, I believe, and yet it came so naturally to them within their culture! I so treasured the non-sexual male-bonding of it all, that I wasn’t even shocked when he grabbed my thigh like that.

    I simply nodded that he’d guessed about right, and he smiled in appreciation, then lifted his hand from my thigh to form a thumbs-up approval back to me.

    Of only we had that atmosphere here in America!

    • Eugene Heffron

      That’s awesome Dean! Korea does seem have to have more relaxed standards on masculinity as I have read that male friends are my physically affectionate with each other as well. Indeed if only we had that atmosphere here in America. But still, be the change you want to see.

    • Michael McCune

      I have no idea where you live but I am in California and in they have quite a few Korean Spas here and they have a similar feel to the ones in Korea just more diversity. I go off and on and I find it to be a healthy environment. And to add I am in the Army reserves but have been on a few months of active orders to Korea. So I can relate in some way with what you are saying.

      • Sounds awesome, Michael. I’m in Texas, actually. We do have one legally “nude” lakeside county park within the state, which is near me, and I’ve been there a few times. But I’ve not looked into if there are Korean Spas here or not. They’re probably available in some of the more major urban areas though, I’d guess.

        Thanks for your service to our country, by the way!

  • Dean Samuels

    Love this, Eugene. Thank you for sharing your story and experiences.

    • Eugene Heffron

      Thanks Dean! I’m always glad to share.

  • Martin

    I heard about Korean spas a little while ago and thought about going to one. But I get hard really really easily, even in situations that aren’t sexual at all like doctor visits (which is part of why I tend to want to experience nudity with other men; I think it would help normalize it and alleviate that issue). So I’ve always been too worried that I’d get hard and people would get the wrong idea or I’d get kicked out. But I do realize, as Eugene mentioned, that experiencing that won’t make everything go away, so I’ve contented myself that this is something I won’t be able to experience in the foreseeable future.

    • Eugene Heffron

      Well Martin your concern is actually a very common concern for a lot of guys going into situations like this and it definitely was for me too! One thing I didn’t mention in my blog is that when I first disrobed at the nudist resort for the first time I completely lost control downstairs and it was awful. I had to hide in a less crowded section until it went away. I think since it was outdoors the extra air and sunshine probably was partly responsible. But when I first disrobed at the spa I oddly didn’t even remotely have that problem and never did at any subsequent visits and I don’t know why. But it still was a fear for me because I know what you mean, I have a hard time controlling it down there too sometimes!
      Personally I would say don’t let the fear of getting an erection hold you back from going to one. If you did get an erection, I assure you that you wouldn’t be kicked out. They only kick people out if you’re harassing them or engaging in sexual activity. My backup plan if I got an erection was always that if I got one, I would sit down in a tub with my waist under the water and simply wait for it to go away. Simple as that. Not wanting to sound like I’m forcing you to go to one or anything, just want to say don’t let fear of erections stop you from going.

      • At Peace

        Dear Eugene, you must be a young’en to have those instant boners. I remember getting many hard on’s on the city bus and found that I had to put a jacket in front of me (thank God I had something to put in front of me), but man, talk about fear and embarrassment. But you know, all you have to do is put your trunks on, carry a towel in front of you to the showers and take a cold one and it’s an instant “downer”. hehe

      • That is a common worry, indeed! And I still don’t know my own self well enough to figure out exactly what it is that actually triggers those darn things, lol! I mean, sometimes it is very obvious what causes them. But when one pops-up during an interaction when I’d prefer that it didn’t, there’s just no common “pattern” or thought process for me to identify or associate it with.

        One thing that does seem to “inhibit” them for me, ironically enough, is to find confidence in the environment… to be very intentional about why I’m there, and what I’m doing it for.

        Something else that may work for many guys is negative physical stimulous when you feel yourself getting an erection at a time you don’t really want one.

        It’s as simple as wearing a hardly noticeable flesh-colored rubber band around your wrist, and pulling it taunt to snap the tender side of your wrist with it, if your mind starts to stray or if your body starts to react in a way you don’t want it to.

        This actually helps retrain our brain (which is by far our most dominant sexual organ, by the way) to know when it is or isn’t appropriate to “trigger” an erection. And it can also even assist in “teaching” our brains what inappropriate thought patterns are, so that we are less likely to wander through unwanted areas of fantasy, with our uncontrolled thoughts.

        Just a suggestion!

  • Eddie

    I can’t say I have been to a Korean spa. However, ever since the subject came up on my radar, I see that they are out there particularly in major cities. I would have some reservations about going to one. My biggest fear is being in an unknown environment and being that vulnerable all at the same time.

    Hey Eugene if you want to head to one sometime, I’m game.

    • Eugene Heffron

      Its better to go with friends if you can find any. The thing is that you realize when you’re there is that everyone is vulnerable there. Its not like being a nude model in an art class where you’re the only one vulnerable there (can’t imagine ever doing that myself). So that is one thing to keep in mind if you ever did though.
      And yeah always down to going to one sometime with new friends! Plus its always good to go with a buddy who has gone to spas before. I couldn’t imagine going by myself the first time I went. I had a friend who helped me through it.

  • mike

    It’s impossible for me to imagine myself going to a spa surrounded by good looking guys who are naked! Such images for me would only fuel my fantasy world and fortify my old habits of masturbation and pornography. I know myself too well. I am NOT like my straight brothers for whom naked guys are NOT a problem. And I never will be like them this side of Heaven.
    Instead, I cling to Psalm 23 “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” Those places give me healthier imagery; ones that don’t lead to my old habits. For me, Korean spas would not fall into the category of “green pastures” nor “quiet waters” nor would they refresh my soul (understatement!).
    Others have written that nudity was/is useful to mitigate these old habits. I can’t see it. It wouldn’t work for me…
    Eugene, you obviously have arrived at a place of healing as you write your story. How much of that was because of close friendships and how much was as a result of the Korean spa nudity is difficult to dissect. It may have been solely due to the close friendships not unlike Tom et al who likewise found healing as a result of “emotional nudity” that YOB and its forerunner provided. What do you think? Was nudity necessary for you and will it be necessary to continue nudity going forward?

    • Eugene Heffron

      I’d say nudity was very necessary for me because frankly its been so central to my attractions and struggles. So I guess for me I feel like emotional nudity isn’t enough, and that I have to have physical nudity sometimes. A lot of the help did have to do with going with my close SSA friends. We have a strong understanding that we’re not going to sexualize each other’s nudity. It really is a wonderful feeling to be naked with someone in a non sexual environment where you know you both aren’t going to judge or lust after each other’s bodies. It’d be a different scenario if I went to a spa by myself and you’re not sure where the other naked men stand. Still, I think nudity will still be necessary going forward as long as I keep it in a non sexual environment. Hoping to visit more Korean Spas with my side B SSA friends soon.

      • mike

        Eugene, thanks for your frank reply :). Whom am I to deny your journey with nudity? With God on your side surely you will stand. And I pray as I type that you do indeed!
        Yet, as an older brother I still have fears for you going forward. Are they valid fears? They come from concern, but also with an open mind.
        Firstly, by affirming nudity you are going against centuries of Christian tradition where the true church has upheld modesty for followers of Jesus based on the Church’s understanding of the Scriptures. Going against this established Church tradition is always interesting! It is what the APA did in 1974 when they took the Side A approach wiping centuries off the Church’s teachings! This is where taking an inch out of Church tradition can end up with many feet because then what is left is revision and no absolutes. And now we are seeing the revision of gender as a result.
        Secondly, my fear is about your “side B” friends. “Side B” is a vestige of the 90s when the cyber initiative “Bridges Across the Divide” invented these “Sides” including a Side C. The Side Bs were the Exodus folk and the Side B journey was largely a reparative journey not unlike the present ‘trauma informed addiction’ model. Trauma caused bad nurturing in childhood which causes addiction and in the Exodus model — having SSA. As you know much damage was done in Exodus trying to repair this nurture deficit. Little was accomplished in terms of longer term benefit in ‘healing’ SSA and Exodus was deemed a failure.
        While Eugene you may not believe in reparative therapy yet what you describe I think is similar. Straight guys go to such spas and don’t lust after each others’ bodies. You are saying that your friends do the same which is another way to say you all have become like our straight brothers. Going forward, can that remain true for everyone in that group? If one should fall you’ll be sad and that would be bad. What I’m saying is few of us become like our straight brothers regarding sexual attraction. For most, and I think I’m not the only one, male nudity is unwise as is female nudity for our straight brothers.
        I say all of this not to argue with you or even to change your mind. But only as a brother who cares and wants to learn and who wants you and your friends to stand over the longer term :).

        • Eugene Heffron

          No worries Mike! I’m all up for chatting more and clarifying my thoughts and feelings of it all. It was hard to cram it all into a 1000 word blog.

          When it comes to your comment about modesty, I will say I’m probably not the most theologically qualified to really give a sure statement on this but take what I say with a grain of salt. I’ve had friends suggest to me that modesty is not so much directly to do with clothing but more like your attitude. Like are you exposing your skin for the sake of titillating yourself and others or is it an act of non sexual vulnerability? Again, not a theological expert here so don’t quote me on that.

          For the Side B term, I was merely stating that the friends I’ve gone to the spa with are SSA but they’re abstaining from gay sex or the lifestyle. I was only making that differentiation, I’d rather not get into a debate on its relation to reparative therapy or anything like that.

          When I’ve been non-sexually naked with my Side B brothers, its not an act of trying to be straight or feel like straight men. Its really more of an act of camaraderie, brotherhood, and vulnerability and its fun! And I know for a fact that straight men who are regularly naked with teammates in the shower or other situations feel the same way. For more detail I’d refer to you to “4 T’s and the Church” website and check out the podcast called “Physical Transparency – Loving Christians who struggle with Homosexuality through Nudity and the Locker Room”. In that podcast the SSA owner of the site talks to his straight teammates who agree that the shower room is like a sacred space for brotherly bonding. And that’s how it is with me, when I’m non-sexually naked with men I want to have a brotherly bonding experience rather than looking straight or trying to turn straight.

          • mike

            Eugene, I think modesty is also about not being a stumbling block to the weaker guy. While you may have the freedom to enjoy spa nudity modesty is the concern for others. We are given great freedom as Christians, but the greatest is the freedom to consider others’ welfare over our own. How confident are you that your side B friends who accompany you to the spa are exactly the same as you? Can you be absolutely sure? How can you be sure another young SSA guy going to the spa alone sees you or your friends and is tempted to sin because of his lust? “Fun” yes, for you but not for the weaker brother. This is something to prayerfully consider before God who cares for all. Straight men in the shower who are followers of Jesus should also consider this as well — others’ welfare above their own.
            “4 T’s and the Church” has some good things to say, but be careful following one young guy’s advice as if it’s absolute truth. Trust no man except Jesus is a wise saying…

          • Eugene Heffron

            I’m very close with the side B friends I go with and love them like brothers. I simply trust them that they’re not sexualizing the situation like I am and I intuitively sense that its true that they haven’t. If another guy lusts after me at the spa, then that’s their problem and not mine. I’m not going in there for the purpose of titillating other men there and I can’t control other people’s thoughts. Besides, I’ve probably been lusted after while clothed in public by other random SSA men around. Not all that much difference.

          • I’d say if solid communication exists among brothers, go for it. I personally wouldn’t go to a Korean spa with someone I hardly know. I’ve never crossed this Korean spa divide, but who knows. Maybe one day.

            As for being a “stumbling block” to other men…no way to control that. As Eugene stated, you can be a “stumbling block” to another guy simply for dressing well, having a sharp new haircut, etc. Should we dress in rags? Should women not wear bikinis at the beach? It’s impossible to control or prevent what other people feel, and it’s not our responsibility either.

          • mike

            Quite right Tom. Modesty in dress has nothing to do with “control” of others. Each is ultimately responsible for the lust of his eyes and so we can’t play Adam’s game of blaming others. Modesty has to do with our personal relationship with Jesus and our modesty in how we live is a barometer of that depth of relationship.
            Yet, we do have “responsibility” to God and to His people. You can’t just throw out the Scriptures on modesty by dismissing them outright because you can’t “control” others’ lust. Surely you are not saying that!?
            Firstly, as a follower of Jesus, I agree the body is good but also sacred/holy. The body for the follower of Jesus becomes the temple or the dwelling place of God Himself. This is awesome to ponder — completely mind blowing! Thus how we treat this dwelling of God is so important out of respect and worship of Him. And hence, the Apostle Paul treats sexual sin separately from other sins. “Flee, run away from, stay away” from sexual things otherwise we desecrate God’s dwelling Place — a sad sad thing to do!
            Moreover, our body is no longer ours! It was purchased by Jesus dying to pay our ransom and hence the Apostle Paul uses the words “bond slave” as he speaks of himself in his relationship with God implying that his body is no longer his own and his desire to bring honor to God with his body.
            Does it bring honor to God walking about naked? Does it bring honor to God not dressing modestly? No, dressing in rags is not modesty. Modesty is not drawing attention to ourselves so others can covet or lust after our clothes, expensive haircut, or expensive diamond ear-rings? Yes, we are responsible for others’ if what we wear or don’t wear causes them to envy or lust. We have personal freedom as followers of Jesus in that this is NOT about legalism but it is NOT a license to just do what we please. Surely Tom you are not saying that!?

          • Hold on, Mike. One step at a time. Walking around naked in a Korean spa isn’t walking around naked in a city square. Context. I also think you’re defining “modesty” as you see fit. What is modesty and immodesty? Naked? Bikinis? Thongs? Swim trunks? Full-body wetsuits? Where do you draw the line? While I’m personally not one to run to the Korean spa and drop trou, I’m also not gonna say God frowns upon it for my brothers who have found growth and healing in that setting. Life is too short to be drawing all these lines for other people and too maddening to theorize what lust or envy we may or may not be causing in others. Let’s all focus on ourselves and our hearts and not point fingers at others.

  • Eugene Heffron

    I did want to add a brief word of caution that I didn’t have time to write in my blog. To any of you thinking about trying out a Korean Spa, just be aware to sometimes they do attract creepers and men with less than platonic intentions. Most spas do have monitors that make sure nothing sexual is going on in the naked section and they often have strict rules in which anyone who tries anything sexual will be banned from the spa. Still, some men do try sexual things anyways but just be aware of that but I don’t wan that to scare you away. Its better to go with friends and stick with them, and if you do that you should be fine.

    • I never encountered that within South Korea. But I’d imagine that would be a constant concern here in the United States, within any legal public-nudity environment… it certainly is at nudist resorts and parks!