Toilet Use in Korea

Posted: July 17, 2011 in culture
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Warning – Graphic Images – But the Reality

For some reason, Korean students can’t seem to learn two things when it comes to using the toilet:

  • Getting their business in the toilet
  • flushing their business if they do happen to get it where it belongs

Working in several Korean schools, numerous times a week these lovely scenes greeted me.

When I decided to start this blog, I took these photos:

dong-on-floor

Common sight in every elementary - high school in Korea

unflushed-toilet

Common sight in every Korean elementary school

Be glad you only see the images and not smell the contents. I gagged on several occasions rushing to open the windows. Rarely are there fans in school bathrooms and rarer still do they work if there is.

Unlike in the US, where teachers have separate facilities, in Korea, teachers and students almost always share the same restrooms.

Consequently, to avoid gagging throughout the day,  I was also the unofficial “flusher,” as the cleaning lady often would not arrive for several hours.

Obviously, the parents aren’t teaching their children how to use the toilet. Neither are the schools.

I had to ask for soap when I first arrived at one school. There are no soap dispensers like there are in the States. So, I know for a fact these students did not wash their hands when they were through using the toilet. Even the school where I am now does not have soap in the bathroom where I took some of the photos above. I asked for soap when I first arrived, but the bar of soap doesn’t stay on the soap dish for more than a day or two before it disappears.

Scary thought when every student in your class want’s to shake your hand while saying the few English words they know, “glad to meet you” and “where are you from?”

After repeatedly being greeted by what you see here, I once suggested to a Korean teacher that they put a sign in the stall telling the students to flush the toilet. She said “it wouldn’t do any good.”

Aren’t schools supposed to teach?

I thought, “So, even though some Koreans won’t stop at a stop sign, you don’t use stop signs?”

(In a similar vein, another teacher told me one Friday afternoon, during the H1N1 propaganda scare, to leave the office door open when I went home, to “let the pandemic out.”)

These teachers are the “educated” Koreans.

There is this one last tidbit of Korean peculiarities connected to a Korean toilet; the waste basket one finds in every stall in Korea. After Koreans miss the toilet, or fail to flush, they deposit the paper, if used, in the little basket. Something about the paper will somehow damage the sewage system? Can’t see how, but that’s what I’ve been told.

broken-toilet-bowl

For six months this water closet has been in this condition

toilet-paper-in-baske

Seeing is believing

Toilets in restaurants are not much better. Before lunch at this restaurant

sicilia-gimhae

Sicilia Restaurant Gimhae

I went to use the restroom and wash my hands. This is men’s sink area. There was no soap available.

sicilia-mens-room

Just like in many public schools, no soap

Do the employees wash their hands after using the restroom?

Hepatitis A anyone?

Aren’t there at least minimum health laws and  health inspections insuring the basic minimal health and hygiene standards are  met to protect the public?

Sicilia Restaurant Gimhae
Comments
  1. Psilomelane says:

    Great article — I’d have never guessed that about Korea (perhaps my casual assumption would have been that the Koreans, like the Japanese, are generally fastidious). But when it comes to “public” toilet facilities, I think there’s a universal fact: by and large most people are filthy slobs.

    Here’s something that’s always perplexed me: seeing a prize winning, pipe bursting log of crap just sitting in a toilet bowl, slowly turning the water a distinct shade of fecal rust, and yet there being NOT A SINGLE SCRAP OF TOILET PAPER also floating in there. So not only didn’t some lazy or malevolent guy (I mainly see this in men’s rooms) not flush after dumping, but apparently he was so confident in the dryness and solidity of his bowel movement he figured he didn’t have to wipe his ass even once???

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