As Yannis, my German friend and I looked over the gallery of black and white photos depicting various sex positions at Love Land, in Jeju South Korea we began playing a game, “Done it, done it, need it, done it, need it” etc…
Around the corner strolled a gang of young Korean men, they stopped dead in their tracks, their jaws dropped wide and to this day despite my shit poor grasp of the Korean language I’m nearly positive one of the men exclaimed “Wow there’s more than one position!”
Love Land is the modestly sized South Korean amusement park dedicated to teaching Koreans about sex and what better way to do that then to cover a park in statues of turtles fucking, dogs fucking, old women chasing down skinny young men, the Terminator’s penis… you get the point.
Parks like these in Korean society are not an anomaly and represent a type of whack-a-mole effect, while their sexuality is clearly oppressed in very conspicuous ways it emerges in strange incarnations like the former. Haesindang Park or as it is more commonly called, Penis Park, is another example of this trend. As the official tale goes a young virgin had been awaiting the return of her man along the shoreline only to discover he had died at sea and in her grief she plunged herself into the ocean. The locals decided to erect hundreds of Penis totems to appease her soul and keep the waters calm, although oddly enough all the statues are clearly new or at the very least, fairly new.
So who visits these parks? Well why not take the whole family, a trip to the Penis Park will yield not only a forest of cock but also showcase young children playing and frolicking while their grandparents reminisce. And if your trip to the country hasn’t satiated your craving for wooden dildos you can stroll into any number of bars in Seoul casually adored with them…. everywhere.
So what does all this say about Koreans and their approach to sex? Well I can only provided the perspective of an outsider looking in and as such any opinion I express is inherently lacking but certain clues do emerge. One fact that every foreign man is quickly bludgeoned with upon entering Korea is that all the young women, whether they’re wearing sneakers and a sweater or heels and a miniskirt (most of them are wearing the later, winter be damned) swear up and down that they’re virgins, even twenty-three year old women who have had a series of rotating foreign boyfriends will lie their ass off.
This has given way to even more disturbing trends such as voluntary molestation. When I say voluntary molestation what I’m referring to is a behaviour by which Korean women will purposely act far more shitfaced than they really are. They then collapse in a very unladylike manor onto their men and these guys use the small windows as opportunities to grope their girl as they sometimes quite literally carry them home.
Ultimately this short article neglects to factor in major sociological factors, such as the role sexuality plays in women’s social position in the country and how Korean history plays into these bizarre dynamics but in any event like in every country we can all find common ground. While drinking at one of Jeju’s hostels I struck up a conversation with the young bartender/ owner who had mentioned that she had been dragged by her friends to Love Land a few days before. “Its weird having to see a big penis that early in the morning”, she said to which I responded ” Well I have to see a big penis every morning”. That got me a free Jack & Coke, it seems our cultures have at least a little in common.