‘As I see it, every day you do one of two things: build health or produce disease in yourself.’ How is this affecting everyday life? People drink dozens of cups of coffee daily to stay awake, eat instant food to save time for work or study, enjoy alcohol as entertainment, and sleep irregular hours. Together, it appears that people are failing themselves. The high level of stressed people are already in the state of undermining their health. More than ever, it is necessary to consider individuals’ mind and body in modern society. SMT reporter visited ‘Herb Lab BomDong’ to recover balance of mind and body in the heart of a metropolitan city.
General Trend of Being Burnt Out
According to the Cigna 360° WellBeing Survey, this year’s wellbeing index of Koreans is 51.7 percent, and it is the lowest among the 23 countries surveyed. The figure dropped 10.1 points compared to just two years ago.1) Currently, Koreans face red lights in every aspect of their lives, from physical health to social relations, family, financial situation, and work. The most concerning aspect of the survey is that the stress index of Koreans is 97 percent, the highest among nations surveyed. Korea has become a republic of stress. Stress can weaken the immune system and cause various diseases so it needs to be released in a health way. However, nearly half of the people (48%) on the survey said they sleep as a way of relieving stress. Faced with mounting stress, people are ignoring alternatives to release it. And there is one place that offers innovative treatment to regain one’s health of mind and body, Herb Lab BomDong.
BomDong, a herbal lab that opened in September 2012, was founded by 16 doctors of Korean oriental medicine. The group of doctors remodeled a second-floor house to create a café centering on herbs that provide mind and body friendly medicines. As an interview with The Kyunghyang Shinmun, they hoped to create a space where busy and tired people could come to rejuvenate and regain their health.2) For their work, Herb Lab BomDong was selected as Seoul Wellness Tourist Zone 25 by the Korea Tourism Organization in 2017.
Take a Deep Breath and Exhale Slowly
Upon entering Herb Lab BomDong, guests are welcomed by the soft scent of oriental medicine under ambient lightings of low chroma. After being shown to the seat, a staff member brought the SMT reporter a pamphlet-styled menu and began to explain each item in it. The menu was divided into three main sections: i) basic customized Yakcha that vitalizes one’s current condition (6 ROOTs), ii) combination Yakcha that coordinates errors and conflicts in both the mind and body and enhances one’s immunity (48 VITALs), and iii) blended Yakcha that stimulates one’s sense of taste by combining a variety of food and drinks of natural nutrients (5 TASTERs). Although each item on the list of 5 TASTERs appeared more inviting and cost-effective, this reporter, due to a rocky condition, opted to try an item on 6 ROOTs. The café also had a foot bath for those needing foot treatment. It costs an additional 10,000 won and takes 20 minutes. The SMT reporter selected a hot Yakcha of 6 ROOTs called life-passion, which claims to stimulate one’s energy for pleasure and desire for life (12,000 won), and chose the foot bath add-on (10,000 won).
The foot bath was chosen as the first activity, so this SMT reporter moved to the foot bathroom, which accommodates up to four people at a time. After removing one’s shoes and socks, guests received foot bath essentials and the staff briefly explained the treatment. Then, a staff member set a timer and guests were left on their own throughout the entire foot bath experience. The foot bathroom was designed in such a manner that allowed guests to look out the front window to see the lovely yard. Right next to the foot bathroom is a bar that serves alcohol from 7 p.m.; however, for customers who know the existence of a bar, BomDong allows them to order one drink before 7 p.m. It’s worth looking into if you go there. The foot bath made the SMT reporter fall into a dreaminess state at her seat while waiting to receive the tea. The server brought a teapot full of Yakcha, an exclusive tea cup, dried jujubes snack, and cold barley of three times in fusion. This SMT reporter enjoyed an excess of 5 cupfuls, and with each cupful, she felt the Yakcha flavor became stronger. Also, unlike her initial prejudice, the jujube snack was uniquely sweet and savory, and its crispy texture was surely to charm all appetites. The cold barley tea was a great compliment as it soothed one’s stomach, especially after having too much hot tea. The SMT reporter enjoyed Yakcha tea indoors on the day, but for guests who go to the 3rd floor, there are grouped seatings as well as an outdoor terrace.
A Sound Mind in a Sound Body
‘When feelings of tiredness are BloOMing in your mind and body, DON’t iGnore them.’ Indeed, this is the very concept this SMT reporter experienced at Herb Lab BomDong. It is hard to say that the experience of onetime foot bath and Yakcha tea completely washed away all of ill-feelings. But, even for just a short moment, wouldn’t it be great to take a break and reenergize? Only you truly know yourself, so you alone are responsible for your wellbeing. No matter how small the indicator is. If something goes wrong in the inner sense, we need to rest. In that case, how about visiting BomDong? You will surely regain a balance in life from the heart of Seoul.
1) Yoo Jaehee, “Well-Being Index of Koreans, The Lowest among 26 Countries…Stress Index Is ‘The Highest’”, Edaily, July 10, 2018
2) Joo Hyejin, “True Healing by ‘Yakcha’…’Herb Lab BomDong’”, The Kyunghyang Shinmun, August 8, 2014