If you’ve looked at the title of this post, then you might be wondering who in their right mind dedicates a museum to a toilet. Well, let me tell you about Mr. Sim Jae-duck, the man behind the Toilet Museum, also known as the first Toilet Theme Park in the world!
Mr. Sim was according to the museum, born in the toilet of his grandmother’s house! He later became the Mayor of Suwon and in his capacity Mayor, Mr. Sim became the passionate leader of the Toilet Culture Movement.
You may now have another question….what the heck is the Toilet Culture Movement?
Mr. Sim was concerned about how public toilets in Korea were considered to be unclean areas, and spearheaded the movement to build the most beautiful public toilets in the world, thus the Toilet Culture Movement began in 1990! He also established Korea’s first department devoted exclusively to toilets, paving the way for bathrooms to be converted into “cultural spaces”. Mr. Sim wanted bathrooms to be more than just a toilet, he wanted them to be places where one could meditate, rest, view exhibitions, and feel reinvigorated. This movement eventually did spread throughout Korea and even internationally. There is now a World Toilet Association (WTA) if you can believe it! The WTA is an international non-governmental organization specializing in toilets and focused on the improvement of human health and sanitation. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 40% of the world’s population (2.6 billion people) live without a proper toilet and 2 million people die from waterborne illnesses each year? You’ll even see photos in the museum of toilets around the world and photos of the new toilets that were constructed due to the WTA’s campaign to build toilets in underdeveloped countries.
I personally don’t find myself using the bathroom as a resting and relaxing place, but I do know some people who spend quite a bit of quality time in there. LOL…and I bet they appreciate Mr. Sims efforts. I do however appreciate a clean toilet, and Korea is truly modernized compared to a lot of other Asian countries. Most toilets here are western style and they are frequently cleaned. Even bathrooms at rest stops are very modern and much cleaner than the ones back in the U.S..
Mr. Toilet House – Haewoojae – 해우재
Address: (16209) 9, 458-gil, Jangan-ro, Jangan-gu, Suwon (Imok-dong)
Phone: +82 31 271 9777
Hours: March – October (10:00 AM – 6:00 PM), November – February (10:00 AM – 5:00 PM)
Closed Monday (or the following Tuesday if a public holiday falls on a Monday), January 1st, Lunar New Year’s Day, and Chuseok
So here is the Mr. Toilet House in all of it’s glory, it’s a giant toilet bowl!! The building first opened in 2007 and was converted into a museum in 2010 after the building was turned over to the Suwon City Government after Mr. Sim’s death.
But before you go inside, you have to check out the garden around the building. It will guide you through the evolution of toilets in in Korea and around the world.
In addition to being educational, there are quite a few comical “exhibits” and you won’t want to miss the chance for what is sure to be quite a great photo op.
After you have finished your spin outside, go inside to learn more about the work of Mr. Sim and the WTA.
The museum also offers special exhibitions on the 2nd level, we got to see “POOP! Save our Earth!” I mean what a title. It was an exhibit all about how one can transform poop into a usable resources, like turning an elephant’s poop into paper.
After you’re done at the Toilet House, go across the street to the Haewoojae Culture Center where you can get an awesome aerial view of Mr. Toilet House from their observatory on the 4th floor.
The most interesting part of the Culture Center is the Children’s Activity Museum. The exhibits are fun and entertaining. You enter through a giant mouth, and exit though…well do I have to spell it out?
Also, your kids will be sure to want to take a spin down the giant toilet slide.
Overall the museum was entertaining, albeit small, but if you’re already visiting Suwon, I definitely think it’s worth a stop. We were really entertained and I mean who knew visiting the toilet could be such a “poo-tiful” experience and when else can you say you were inside a giant toilet bowl?