Thursday, November 17, 2011


Yes, I am devoting a post entirely to bathrooms.  The bathrooms here are definitely worth their own post.  If for no other reason than the fact that many of them are quite different from bathrooms in the States.

Now, there are six basic types of bathrooms I have encountered here.  Three are private and the rest are public.

Private Bathroom 1: The Sinkless Variety
This is like the bathroom in my apartment, Casey's apartment, or Michael B.'s apartment.
The bathroom comes equipped with a toilet, cabinet, and faucet.
The faucet is just like the faucet in your bath/shower combo at home.  I flip a switch and water goes from the faucet to the shower head.  You can see an image of it on the video of my apartment here.
The bathroom floor is lower than the floors in the rest of the house so that water stays in the bathroom.
I actually rather like my bathroom.  It was a little odd at first, but I got used to it and now I'm quite comfortable with it.

Private Bathroom 2: Wrong Switch
The other type is the one I see in most videos of other people's apartments.
The bathroom comes equipped with a toilet, cabinet, sink, and showerhead.
The showerhead is connected to the sink.  So you turn a knob to change the waterflow between the sink's faucet and the showerhead.
I'd find this setup to be a little more awkward and dangerous for several reasons:
1. The sink can get in your way, so less freedom of movement when showering.
2. What happens when you turn on the water and forget to switch it back to the faucet?
I haven't had occasion to use this type of bathroom yet, but I'm sure I will at some point.

Private Bathroom 3: Western
The third type of private bathroom isn't very odd.  Except for the fact that the floor is still sunken, it's exactly like a bathroom back in the States or in Europe.  You don't see these in any of the older buildings, but you do see them in some of the new ones.

Public Bathroom 1: Traditional "Bombdrop" (Squat toilet)
This is the bathroom that many people seem to fear.
There are no toilets.
There is a hole in the ground - sort of.
It looks like this:
Picture is courtesy of Casey since mine wasn't as brightly lit.
Any bathroom with these toilets was built before 2000, since after that it was required to put in western toilets.  Also, any bathroom with only these has no toilet paper 99% of the time.  You need to carry some around with you or be visiting a restaurant in that building.  The restaurant will have a toilet paper roll by their door for you to use.  I also encountered these at the University where we attended a seminar last week.
Really, these toilets (as long as the room doesn't smell) aren't that bad.  They flush like a western toilet and are easy to use.
Warning: If you are out of shape or unable to do a squat then you are in real trouble with these guys.  Otherwise, they're just fine.

Public Bathroom #2: The Deluxe
So far I have only encountered this bathroom once and that was at the Lotte store downtown.
This bathroom looks like a regular western one except for a few changes.
Near the entrance there's an alcove with a child-sized urinal and sink for little boys.  I actually think this is a pretty cool idea.
There's also a makeup area to one side with lots of dry counters and mirrors.
The thing that gets me about it though, are the toilet seats.
They look like a normal toilet seat, except for the row of buttons on the side.
When you sit down you find that the seat is heated.
The various buttons do things like spraying water or air on you.
Unfortunately, unless you're very good at Hangul and Korean you have no clue what each button does....
I couldn't even figure out how to make it flush the first time....

Public Bathroom #3: Western Style
This is the bathroom at my school.
Everything is western style except for one small detail - no handicap stall.
I have only seen one handicap stall here so far and that was in a bathroom at a public park.
It was also late at night and there was vomit on the floor of it.  (No, I wasn't there alone)

There are some bathrooms that contain a combination of these types, like the one at the Subway station that I went to in Busan.  There are also some that are more "unique" than others.  I even found a blog where someone is only documenting the unique bathrooms they find here.

Here's the link if you're interested:  Korean Commodes

Granted, Korea isn't the only country with unique bathrooms.  Just look at what I found in a funeral home in Pensacola, Florida:

Two toilets, one roll, lots and lots of awkwardness.

So, yes, the bathrooms are sometimes different, and many people are terrifed of them for some reason.  Personally, I think they're just fine.

So far I haven't encountered one that puts me in fear of my life - unlike the restrooms at a gas station in the States...

1 comment:

  1. Wow very interesting blog lol the squat pot is a big culture shock lol