Nothing lets you know how fast time flies than looking back at some of your previous work, it seems like yesterday that Mi Jung and I traveled to Haesadang Park Colloquially known as ‘Penis Park’ near Samcheok. CLICK HERE to read the blog. I have wanted to follow up the Unusual Korea theme for some time, but just didn’t have the content. Enter Mr. Toilet House (No Pun Intended. Built in 2007 By Former Suwon mayor Sim Jae Duck “Mr. Toilet” to commemorate the founding of the World Toilet Association, it was donated following his death to the City of Suwan which opened it to the public as a museum.
The museum consists of 2 exhibits, one inside which houses several artistic and technical exhibits explaining the engineering and science behind the function of toilets as well as waste transport and treatment. The other outside illustrates the history of toilet facilities in Korea.
Here are some Korean chamber pots.
I found the exhibits outside more interesting, so that is where I spent the majority of my time.
Being that these are made out of what looks like copper or bronze, the the ice at the bottom, I could not imagine sitting on one of these in the winter.
It’s nice to be King, or Queen. While traveling around they had their portable facilities carried for them. Here is the Maehwateul, and the bowl that is put under the seat. I thought padded toilet seats were just a gaudy 70’s bathroom accessory!
Now that we have taken a look at some of restroom implements in Korea’s distance past, lets take a look at some of the systems for privacy, because who likes a nosey photographer when you are out there in your village trying to do your business!?
This is considered to be one of Korea’s first public toilet, in Wanggung-ri.
Straw style ‘Outhouses’ used on Ulleungdo Island.
The stone outhouses of Jeju Island are interesting, not just for their sturdy structures made out of volcanic rock, but for their innovative waste disposal system. The pigs you see in the right-hand side of the photo eat the human waste for food. The meat of the Jeju-do black pigs are supposed to be the most tender and flavorful in Korea.
Feces is containing a lot of nutrients, and other nitrates and makes a great fertilizer. So the feces in the village was collected in either buckets like, or large barrels carried in a backpack like contraption away to be composted. Urine by itself also has many ‘industrial’ uses. It being acidic can be used in tanning, and it’s high nitrate content means that it can be used to make gun powder.
Here is the bucket style of waste carrying.
Here is the backpack, with large barrel method.
Time to get back to work.
Last but now least, let’s talk about some folk lore and strange traditions centered around bathroom functions. This I found to be the strangest.
I am not really sure what this had to do with bathrooms, or using a bathroom at all. The only thing that I could come up with it. Going around to your neighbors asking for salt with a basket on top of your head as a form of punishment. Led to a ballooning bladder.
I enjoyed my visit to the Toilet Museum! If not for the content, then for the opportunity to get out and take photographs by myself, without being pulled here and there at a museum, feeling rushed because the other members of the group may be bored. Taking pictures of yourself is always a challenge, because you have to guess composition, and focus. Next time I am going to make more use of the Canon app on my iPad or iPhone and the 5d MK IV’s remote-control features. The museum is a fun place to take children, as much for the educational value, but the humor and excitement of going someplace where the main topic is usually something taboo in our society.
So the next time you sit down on your ‘throne’ or use a public toilet in Korea, take a little time to think what you might have been using a thousand years ago.
Mr. Toilet House (Haewoojae)
9 Jangan-ro, 458-beon-gil, Jangan-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do
경기도 수원시 장안구 장안로458번길 9 (이목동)
37°19’9″ N 126°58’41” E
How to get there:
Subway line #1 – Sungkyungkwan Univ. Station.
Way Out Number 2 (Exit number 1 in the web directions was closed due to construction)
Cross the street to the corner of the catholic church and take bus number 64.
Get off at the Hongwon High school stop.
As you get off the bus, go to the right, and cross the street when you get to the GS-25 gas station.
Once you cross the street, make a left and walk up the street toward the toilet house.
NOTE: You will not be able to take line 64 back to the subway station. You can either take a taxi, or pay for one of the intercity busses back to Sungkyungkwan Univ Station. You will be let off on the other side of the station. As you get off the bus, turn to your right and walk up the hill.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog, and our second installment of “Unusual Korea”, be sure to stop by next week for our monthly restaurant review, when Mi Jung and I head out for more sushi!
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