A tale of Mr Toilet who lived in a toilet house
Korea is a remarkable country. I love tiny cafes and restaurants, street markets and long lines of open markets with all kinds of vendors. Nice smiling people that would always stop and ask where are you from and how are you doing.
As you walk on by Korean streets full of advertising neons, K-pop music clinges to your ear and makes your day another happy one. There is this energy in the air.
And then you want to visit a toilet at times, after all we all do have to sometimes, right? I never was too much disturbed by variety of standards of Korean toilets, some of them however, were rather shocking.
There is an island on the way to Taen-gun located halfway a very long bridge, popular spot where crowds of people stop by. Probably it was in some Korean drama, because drama site is a tourism booster in that country. How surprised I was when I had seen a multiple chain of holes in the floor that had been toilets.
My smart Korean friend, Youna, who took me on that trip, said:
- But you see this is easier to maintain good sanitation. Thousands of people stop here and use it.
Hmmm indeed. But it also happens that a small tiny cafe made a toilet for it's guests in the closest gate staircase usually downstairs or between 1st and 2nd floor and that toilet is dark, rather uncleaned and defitnately had seen better times.
I cannot say I was bothered much. After all how a traveller can be bothered by anything? Beauty does not have to be always clean. It adds up to what I call unique charm of a place even if it is a doubtful charm of low class sanitation.
But apparently there was a dude that was disturbed by it all and he was 100 percent Korean. Sim jae-duck, was so pissed off with Korean toilet standards that he even founded a Korean Toilet Association.
More than that. When he became a Mayor of Suwon, it was just before the FIFA Worldcup in 2002. Some games were held in the city not far from my alma mater, Ajou University. The Mayor thought to himself "Ok, so we have nice stadium that everyone is jealous for, nice coffee shops, awesome restaurants, goodlooking women, lots of shops, all fine. But we do not have many nice toilets."
It was then when he started his biggest quest for higher hygiene standards. He had a prostate cancer and felt weaker and weaker but still restlessly advocated for his cause. He founded World Toilet Association.
He was born in a restroom due to old belief it brings luck. Sim jae-duck built a toilet that reminds the world of those who are either not wise enough to have a clean one or not lucky enough to have one at all.
He donated his Toilet House to the City of Suwon :)
Wow, what a cool city I have been at.
Sim jae-duck died in January 2009 due to prostate cancer.