Heading to Korea? If you’re a woman, you won’t have the luxury of sitting on a comfortable toilet seat. No toilet seats here! Although Korea is slowly making the move to Americanized toilet seats, most places have the old Korean toilet in place, a urinal in the ground. You won’t have any toilet paper either, so bring some along and prepare to aim worse than a man, because unless you want to look all over Seoul for an American toilet seat, you’ll need to pee like a Korean.
What’s With the Toilets?
Although Korea’s current policy is that all new buildings must contain Americanized toilets (most hotels and apartments have western toilets), old buildings are not being updated with it. There are a lot of old buildings in Korea, so you will encounter an old-styled Korean toilet – staying in the hip part of Seoul won’t help you out. Koreans are fine with it for the most part, and if you ask an older Korean about their urinals in the ground, they don’t have a problem with it. Unfortunately for the Westerner visiting Korea, however, this isn’t when you want to learn how to aim yourself for the first time. Usually, a woman’s first urination in Korea results in herself cursing for aiming at her pants instead of the toilet, or it may result in the woman leaving immediately. Either way, peeing without the luxury of a seat to sit on is a Korean tradition, so you should learn the proper way of peeing if you decide to visit Korea.
What Should I Expect When Using a Korean Toilet?
First off, some toilets aren’t just for women. Some are unisex, and if that makes you feel uncomfortable, look elsewhere.
Once you enter the stall, here are two things you should remember: Bring your own paper and know your proper aiming position beforehand. If you see a wastebasket in your stall full of toilet paper, do not grab that – that’s used toilet paper. You don’t flush your used paper down their toilets here, as it screws up with their sewage system. You can easily buy a traveler’s case of toilet paper anywhere – Target sells compact toilet paper for very cheap.
Before you pee, you should have practiced beforehand (hopefully at home at your own convenience). This is eliminate ‘relief’ problems and angry people waiting for you to get out. If you’re talented enough, you can pee at a standing stance, slightly bending your knees, hips thrust out so you don’t accidentally wet your pants. Otherwise most women will adopt a squatting stance, over the end of the toilet. Starting in the middle will result in a yellow-colored floor.
Sometimes the floor will be wet (for various reasons), so if you need to set your hand down for leverage, make sure your hand is protected.
What Do Korean Toilets Look Like?
Here is a picture of the infamous Korean toilet, taken by a English teacher in Korea. The flush handle is hidden, but you’ll find it on the side of the toilet. It’s fun to be a woman!
Where are the Modern Toilets?
You’ll find American toilets in the bigger cities, such as Anyang and Seoul, in the modern districts. Some of the newer attractions (museums and parks) have modern facilities separated for women and men, along with shopping malls, such as E-Mart. You will not find it in most supermarkets and town markets, such as Seoul’s Namdaemun Market. Rule of thumb: if it looks too ethnic, it’s probably got your favorite Korean toilet also. Itaewon, another popular place for foreigners to shop, is hit and miss.
Time To Flush This Tale Away
If you’re still thinking about going to Korea, make sure you’ve got toilet paper handy (defecating and not having any toilet paper won’t end up well) and make sure you know your ‘position’, so you don’t make needy people wait – you don’t want to experience the joy of a Korean temper. Good luck and enjoy your Korean toilet experience!