Kindergarden children look at a statue of a man responding to the call of nature at the Toilet Culture Park in Suwon, about 46 km (29 miles) south of Seoul, November 22, 2012. The park, which is the only one of its type in the world, exhibits a variety of bowls from Korean traditional squat toilets to western bedpans. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
(REUTERS)- The South Korean city of Suwon has opened what it says is "the world's first toilet culture park", displaying ancient flush lavatories, fun facts about human waste and a sculpture garden dedicated to squatting.
At the Toilet Culture Park 45 kilometres south of Seoul, the water closet is no longer a dirty word, instead it is celebrated as a work of art, with people taking photographs and even posing alongside the sculptures.
The museum, which shows the changes in toilets throughout history, has been attracting visitors since it opened in July.
"I think it could change someone's perception. Particularly, if there are a little uptight or embarrassed about toilet or toilet habits, because this makes you laugh. And you see that it's not a secret," said 42-year-old tourist Malissa Sheets-nygard from the United States.
A building inside the park, shaped like a huge lavatory and called "Mr. Toilet house", displays appropriately shaped souvenirs and W.C. signs from around the world.
"For our generation, a toilet was very dirty place where we really didn't want to enter. I actually used to poo on the front yard and my grandmother cleaned it up. A toilet was a very dangerous place, too. I fell into the toilet bowl. But this place is different, which made me think afresh about toilets," said a 52-year-old tourist Kim Gye-soon.
The museum was previously the home of Sim Jae-duck, the former mayor of Suwon and the inspiration for the facility.
"We opened the place with various humorous sculptures related to the toilet. This has emerged as a place where many foreigners can be familiar with toilet culture (of South Korea)," said Lee Youn-sook, the team manager of Planning and Public Relations of the Sim Jae-duck Foundation, known as "Mr Toilet".
Sim turned his obsession with toilets into a successful campaign to improve South Korea's conveniences.
In 2014 the Suwon government plans to open a toilet theme park and more exhibitions, expanding the existing park in a drive to educate Koreans about public toilets and raise awareness about sanitation.