10 Korean products I would export to the U.S. (if I had an export business.) #6 Heated Beds
On the same theme as ondol, there is another winter weather product that I would like to export. It’s the heated stone bed!
In this article, you can find out why this product might actually be better than ondol itself!
Remember, ondol is where the whole room of the floor is heated. This is great if you sleep on the floor at night, but for those of us who sleep in beds, the heat of the floor doesn’t magically rise to our mattress. Sure the heat of the room may increase, but then the floor would be too hot by the time the warm air rises to you in your bed.
So, as Korea is a modern country, fewer people are sleeping on the floor these days and opting for beds, but the houses don’t automatically update to include heaters. (In fact, I don’t think I’ve yet seen a Korean abode with non-ondol style heating, even in modern apartments.) So people still want the sleeping on the heated floor feeling in their bed. So, they created the ondol bed!
How does it work?
Well, there’s no cooking fire or waterpipes running through the bed, but you plug the bed in, and the heating unit in the bed warms the stone base of the bed. There are even mattresses which are compatible with this bed, so that the heat will convect through the mattress and find its way to your chilly self.
Why is this better than ondol
Well, I don’t know if it is better than ondol for heating the whole house, in the daytime, but it makes a lot of sense at night. You don’t need to run up the heating bill on your whole house when you could just heat the bed you sleep on. Sure, it might be freezing when you get up in the middle of the night to go use the bathroom, but your heated bed will only be loved more, when your re-chilled self makes a mad dash from the bathroom to get back in bed… SWEET!!!
Also, since this is a series on exporting, it’s better than ondol because: a) it’s hard to export ondol itself to existing houses. You would need to build an entirely new house, and most people buy houses, not land on which to build new houses. b) beds are much easier to export. c) most Americans sleep in beds anyway, so even if they imported ondol anyway it would have no effect at night when they are in their beds.
The ondol bed is made by several companies in Korea, but I found a somewhat hilariously translated page from one of them here. The rest of the companies only had information in Korean.
In Korea, there seems to be a market for both healthy and green products, and this ondol bed is both! Some are even suggesting that it will become an international standard.