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Mr. Healing – South Korea’s “Relaxation Cafe” Chain

People usually visit cafes for a dose of energy-boosting caffeine to alleviate tiredness and keep themselves from falling asleep, but Mr. Healing, a popular cafe chain in South Korea actually encourages people to lie down, take a break, and even get some shut-eye.

Mr. Healing bills itself as a relaxation cafe, a place where people can come in, order a drink and lie down a comfortable massage chair, where they can even take a short nap to the soothing sound of ambient or classical music, with pleasant and relaxing scents inundating their senses. The experience is so popular among Koreans that the chain has expanded to 47 different venues throughout the Asian country.

Photo: video screengrab

Data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development shows that many Koreans suffer from sleep deprivation as a result of overworking, so any opportunity to relax and even take a short nap is greatly appreciated. Mr. Healing is the perfect place to go when you’re on a short work or school break and you need to catch up on sleep. The cafe offers its relaxing massage sessions in various intervals and modes, depending on how much time you have available and how you choose to spend it.

The 20 minute session is priced at 4,000 Korean won ($3.5), the 30 minute massage costs 7,900 won ($7), and the 50 minute session is ($9), all of which also include a drink. Once you make your choice, you are taken to the “healing center”, a large space split up into cubicles, all of which feature two comfy massage chairs. You are asked to take off your shoes as well as any jewelry that might damage the chairs, after which you can opt for a massage mode, from “stretch”, “intense stretch” or “sleep”. You can start with stretch for a few minutes, and then switch to sleep if you want to take a short nap.

Photo: Mr. Healing

After the relaxing session comes to an end, you are taken back to the actual cafe area to enjoy a coffee or one of the many other refreshing drinks on the menu.

Mr. Healing cafes are so popular in Korea, that patrons are advised to make reservations in advance to be sure that a massage chair is available. Its menu venues are frequented by virtually all age groups, from young students who need a break from studying, to workers, travelers, and even the elderly.

Photo: Mr. Healing

“The customers vary from people who come alone to couples, friends, families, travelers — simply anyone who needs a break in their life,” Park Hye-sun, manager of Mr. Healing in Myeong-dong, central Seoul, told the Korea Herald.

Asked what they thought by the experience offered by Mr. Healing, visitors couldn’t stop praising it:

Photo: Mr. Healing

“I have to sit on a chair and stare at a computer monitor all day due to my job, the healing room was truly effective to relieve fatigue and stress from weekdays,” said Kim Eun-kyum, a 24-year-old noncommissioned officer.

“I’m usually in a state where I need more sleep,” said Lee Ji-hyun, a student at a private academy in Gangnam, Seoul. “If you go to a regular cafe, you need to sleep sitting up in a chair. That’s not much different from sleeping at the academy.”

 

“The (regular) cafes are inconvenient,” Shin Jeong-sik, a regular customer at Mr. Healing, said. “They’re crowded and the chairs are stiff. I like it here because I can rest on a bed.”

Some have described Mr. Healing and other similar relaxation cafes in South Korea as simple fads, but there are also those who see them as a sustainable business model, because they offer a service that Koreans really need.

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