Ondol and Special items-How the Korean people survive “Cold winter”?

Korea has 4 seasons and winter is VERY COLD. Winter is from November to March and average Seoul temperature of January is -2.4C(28).

Today I will introduce an Ondol which means warm stone and 2 special items what was developed from the Ondol principle. Ondol is Korean traditional architecture that involves transferring heat from a stove to an adjoining room through horizontal smoke passages under a thick, raised masonry floor. The heat of an Ondol is also used for cooking.

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Nowadays, Ondol is the predominant heating system in all Korean homes, even modern apartments with hot-water pipes embedded in the floor. So if you are in Korean apartment, you can feel the floor is warm.:) Normally apartment building has central heating but if not, people use gas boiler in each house for heating pipes.

Korea special 2 items- There are 2 special items which was developed from the Ondol principle.

1. Stone bed

The principle of stone bed is similar with Ondol which the stone in bed transfers the heat. Stone bed was first made in 1992 from Korea company and it has more than 20years of history.

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This stone bed seems like similar as normal bed. But is isn’t!! There is no mattress. The bed is made of quartz, mica, topaz and several varieties of jade, and feature embedded heating coils that give off a low, radiant heat.





There is a switch in panel, you can turn that on and adjust the temperature. So you can sleep warm in a winter and also can be cool in summer. However, there is a pros and cons for using the stone bed.




  • Help you to increase blood circulation and muscle to relax. Some people use this for medical treatment. It is known that, stone bed is good for hernia of intervertebral disks patient. Because they can use the bed as physical therapy and the waist can be straightened after sleeping in it.
  • Once the stone get warm, the heat goes long. If the blanket is on the bed, the heat will go more longer.
  • Electronic charge comes a little from the stone bed.
  • It is cool in summer.


  • It needs quite a long time to make the stone warm.
  • Stone is firm than mattress and there are some people who can’t adjust.
  • It is heavy. If you move to a new house, stone bed can be “heavy rock” for you.
  • Because the stone is not that strong, when moving the stone bed one part of it can be broken.
  • Price is quite expensive about 1500~3000 dollar.

2. Warm Stone massage

Originally warm stone massage was one of the Korea folk remedy that when grandchild is sick, grandmother heats the millstone or round pebble and covers it with towel and then put it on the stomach. It got modernly developed as an electronic warm stone massage and  it is commonly used in Korea.

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How to use this?

Step 1 :

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Connect the electronic power switch and wait 2~3 minutes. After 6~7minutes the stone will get warm that the temperature of stone will be about 60~70C(140~158F). The heat goes about 2hours after charge.


But when you charge the stone, you should put it inside the pocket before making hot and don’t put this stone on the weak stuff such as bed or carpet. That’s all because the stone is hot.


Step 2:

Put the warm stone in wherever you want. Normally people put it in stomach, shoulder, chest, waist, leg. Or there is a waist support belt for warm stone.

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Where is it good for?

It keep the body warm in cold winter and also good at relaxing the muscle pain. I’m using this warm stone in home and the most advantage what I felt is don’t need to plug in when using it and heat goes for a long time.



1 thought on “Ondol and Special items-How the Korean people survive “Cold winter”?

  1. Pingback: Korean restaurants culture-7 things you should know | Real daily life in Korea

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