Sunday, October 6, 2013

Suwon Toilet Museum, South Korea

Last weekend Jihyeon and I had to travel to Seoul to pick up some things for our wedding. Since we travelled so far, we decided to make the most of it and stop off somewhere interesting in Suwon (a little south of Seoul). 

Welcome to the toilet museum of Suwon, home of Mr Toilet (aka Mr. Sim Jae-duck). He built this unique home in 2007 to commemorate the establishment of the World Toilet Association. After his death, his surviving family donated this toilet bowl-shaped house to Suwon City as stated in his will. The city turned the home into the Toilet Culture Museum in 2010 and opened the Toilet Culture Park in 2012. The cities plans don't stop there. Their long term plan is to turn it into the world's first toilet theme park. 

Next to the museum is a small park with a bunch of interesting statues on display. 

Here is a statue of a child wearing a winnowing basket. If a child were to wet the bed, they would be forced to visit their neighbours, while wearing the basket on their head, to ask for salt. The goal was to embarrass the child into not wetting the bed anymore. 

Traditional Korean toilet hut/cubicle. Sorry, but this one is occupied. 

On display here are toilets from ancient Rome.  

Either the toilet is backwards, or it is a terrible design. All the poo would come out the front and end up at your feet. 

This is a Mitssitgae (wiping item) used to clean up after taking care of business. Before the use of toilet paper, Koreans typically used rice straw to clean up. In areas where rice straw was rare a rope would be hung horizontally by the toilet, which people would straddle (as shown below). 

For those with a little more money, these barrels (known as Ttongjanggun) would be used to carry the waste away from your home. 

These are Yogangs (Chamber Pots). The were made from a rang of materials and came in all shapes and sizes. Interestingly, bridal yogangs had cottonseed laid in the bottom so as to reduce the sound of urination. Until the 1970's brass Yogangs were common dowry items in Korea.  

The toilet... a place for thought and reflection.

Here I am using a public toilet used 1400 years ago. The ruins were unearthed in Iksan along with a wooden stick shaped like a spoon and parasite eggs in the soil near the toilet. Truly fascinating stuff.

Here is a portable toilet used in the royal palace. There is a padded cushion built around the hole, making it nice and comfortable to sit on. It is said that the king's doctor would check the colour, smell and taste of the king's feces to examine the health of the king. Taste... really? That is going just a little too far. 

Here is a toilet design, known as Tongshi, from Jeju island off the coast of South Korea. Pigs were raised in the excretion area and would "process" (aka eat) the human excrement. I am told this is a good example of an environmentally friendly toilet since the excrement is fed to livestock. 

Here is a Nohdutdol, which is a flushing toilet used by noblewoman hundreds of years ago. 

Ewww... I hate it when I step in shit. 

 This is a male urinal, known as Ho Ja, from the Baekje period in the shape of a tiger with its mouth open. 

We then had a rest and enjoyed a free show put on by some local musicians. 

When the distorted music became too much for me, I headed into the museum (free entry btw) to check it out. 

On the 1st floor there is a timeline with lots of pictures (pictures are always good) showing how toilets in the city of Suwon have changed over the years. 

Here are some symbols from the World Toilet Association. 

Australia ^^.

And here is me with my good friend, Mr Toilet. 

As you probably guessed, the museum is more of an interesting oddity that attracts children rather than mature adults. There is a large collage of photos in the museum of the thousands of children that visit the park. the girl in this photo took my eye. I hope her mother brought a change of underwear. I don't think she is acting ^^.

Being the mature adult, I had to pose for a photo at the urinal Mr Toilet used himself. 

Now down to serious business. We had to go shopping for white shirts and jeans to wear to the photo shoot the following weekend. They were to be a wedding gift from Jihyeon's sister so we all went shopping together. 

After traipsing through countless stores and trying on all manner of jeans, I finally got to do something fun^^. We stopped off to see some 4K TV's from LG and Samsung. These TV's are the next big thing to hit your living room. They pack 4 times the pixels of a 1080p TV and have superb image quality. They are still a little expensive. The LG model below was about $25,000 and the Samsung model was about $37,000. 

We then headed back to Jihyeon's sisters place to spend the night there. Something interesting I noticed in the car park at the shopping center were these red lights above the cars. When a parking spot is empty, they turn green to make it easy for a driver to identify free spaces without spending hours driving down every row of cars looking for an empty park. 

Once we arrived, we modeled our jeans and white shirts together.

And bought some chicken, corn chips, onion rings and beer to pass the evening. 

The next day, before heading back to Daejeon we headed into Seoul to pick up the tailored suit I was measured up for a few weeks ago. It fitted like a glove. I'll have to be careful not to put any weight on, or it won't fit in the future. 

After the suit, it was time to pick up the rings the rings we bought a few weeks ago. Since a friend of Jihyeon's recommended the store to us, they threw in some ear rings and a necklace for free. It all came in a nice box. 

I also checked out the new Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Gear smart watch. I like the direction Samsung is going with the watch, but it still has a long way to go. Improvements I would like to see are:
  1. Lower price. The Galaxy Gear retails for about $300. I would probably look at dropping the camera to cut the cost. I just can't see where or why you would use it since you MUST have your smart phone with you to use the watch.
  2. Longer battery life. In my opionion it needs 24 hours minimum. 
  3. Maps. This is the big selling point for me. When looking for somewhere while on foot, glancing down to check the direction would be awesome.
  4. Tethering to the phone needs to be scrapped. I realise there are technical reasons why that was done, but if it is to take off its dependence on a smartphone needs to be cut. 

I then jumped on my angry bird, and flew back to Daejeon. 

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