While there is tons of history that South Korea has to offer, the Land of the Morning Calm also has quite a wild side to it. Beautiful landscapes, delicious food, and technological advancements are not all that Korea is known for. It is also loved for all of the wonderfully bizarre concepts that are open for anyone to visit.
You may be surprised to learn about some of the lesser known things waiting to be discovered in Korea. With a population of 51 million people, there's guaranteed to be a couple of oddballs with some brilliant ideas for entertainment. Here are 10 unique attractions you can only experience in Korea.
Three hours away from Seoul resides a land of giant phallic statues erected on the east coast of Sinnam. Just forty minutes away from Samcheok is Haesindang Park, aka Penis Park. There are benches shaped like penises, penis-shaped wooden chimes, penis poles, laughing penises, penises popping out of the ground -- there's a penis for everything. So why on earth is there a place dedicated to morning wood all shapes and sizes?
Well, huddle around the fire made of penis-shaped logs kids because it's story time. Once upon a time, a fisherman's young wife drowned in the sea. Ever since her death, local fishermen were unable to catch any fish. To please her spirit, villagers began creating wooden carvings of penises. Ever since fishermen were able to catch fish again. According to South Korea's travel site, the ceremony of this legend is still celebrated today.
The beach, giant inflatable slides, obstacle courses, and relaxing massages. Sounds like a recipe for the perfect weekend away, right? Now, throw in heaps of mud and you've got the Boryeong Mud Festival. What started out as a way to market the cosmetic and natural benefits of the region's nutrient-rich mud quickly turned into one the country's most famous outdoor festivals.
Boryeong Mud Festival is essentially a massive outdoor party that has attracted people from all over the world. Daecheon Beach usually hosts the MudFest in July, so make sure to schedule your visit to Korea then to catch some good old fashioned mud wrestling, or maybe take part in it yourself.
We weren't joking when we said Korea has literally got you covered when it comes to unexpected and strange attractions. Yes, there is a place that's dedicated to the wonderful world of poop and toilets. That wonderful place is Haewoojae Museum, which is better known as Mr. Toilet House.
Quite possibly the strangest places you'll ever visit in the entire world, Mr. Toiler House has gardens scattered with various styles of toilets and bronze statues of people squatting in a pooping position. The creator of the park, Mr. Sim Jaedeok, had worked for a sanitation company most of his life and later built himself a toilet-shaped home. Later it was donated by his family to the city of Suwon, where you'll be able to visit Mr. Toilet House. A place to learn all about proper sanitation, while also being an overall fun and silly place to spend an afternoon.
Just a short flight, or ferry ride, away is South Korea's very own version of Hawaii: Jeju Island. Jeju Island is a popular location for South Korean's to get a little taste of island life without going too far. Korea's highest mountain, Hallasan (Halla mountain), stands at nearly 1,950 meters above sea level and is actually a dormant volcano.
Oh yeah, we almost forgot to mention that Jeju Island is host to possibly the most deviant place on the planet, Loveland Park. If you thought Haesindang Park was too erotic, you haven't seen anything yet. Ever since its opening in 2004, Loveland Park has been welcoming tourists for a quick steamy crash course on love and over 140 erotic sculptures to see. Definitely, a place to capture goofy pictures or maybe just what you needed to spice up that love life!
Off the coast of Busan is a vibrantly colorful little place called Gamcheon Culture Village. This Machu Picchu of the east is a top tourist destination for nearly all visitors of Busan. There are endless mazes of alleyways that are decked out in murals and all kinds of colorful walls as you walk higher and higher into the mountainside.
Gamcheon Culture Village never runs out of attractions to see. There are handicraft shops, museums, artist workshops and a number of restaurants to eat at. Find a spot at one of the local coffee shops as you gaze at the undeniably stunning view. Watch as the sun sets below the sea of rainbow homes descending into the oceanside.
As your road-tripping down the east coast of South Korea, you'll have a view of the sea with a never-ending blue horizon on one side and the sight of a massive cruise ship crashing into the side of a tall hill on the other. Not exactly, but that is sure what it looks like from the distance. Gangneung Jeongdongjin Sun Cruise Resort & Yacht can be found in the province of Gangwon-do.
This architectural beauty was opened in 2002 and is the first on-land cruise themed resort. This side of the country is known to offer the best sunsets and beaches. Even if you don't stay at the Sun Cruise Resort, catching sight of this beauty will easily be a memorable one.
Unique to South Korea for obvious reasons. The DMZ, or Demilitarized Zone, is the 240-kilometer long zone separating North and South Korea. North Korea is frightening in its own right due to its totalitarian regime. Everyone knows about the sheltered lives of people who live North of the border and the understandably tight restrictions of being able to visit North Korea. Yet, it's still a massively popular tourist attraction.
At the border, you'll learn about landmines, tanks, and soldiers who are always prepared for the slightest threat of war. There are observation points for visitors to take a look into the North. While most of what you see are vacant buildings in the distance, it's hard to not think about the unimaginable lives that are lived just on the other side of the border.
One of the best parts after traveling all day is coming back to a comfortable bed in whatever accommodation you booked. Most people book AirBnBs, hostels or hotels. In Korea, it's also common to book a place to stay at a pension but, have you ever stayed at a pension in the shape of a ramen cup? No? Well now is your chance.
The aptly named Unique Pension offers a one of a kind experience to board in one of their many themed rooms. A popular one would be the famed Shin Ramen room. Everything in the room is Shin Ramen themed; red, black and yellow all over with a cozy ramen-shaped bed waiting to be slept on. All completed with a nice cup of Shin Ramen waiting for you on the kitchen table. Unique Pension has other themes too, such as Heineken, Starbucks, or iPhones. These unconventionally styled pensions are a fun twist to the usual BnB.
Gangnam, Itaewon, and Hongdae are the hottest spots for a night out in Korea. If you really want to experience the Korean nightlife, these are the places to visit. Here, the club and bar scene is nothing like you've ever experienced. They say New York City is the city that never sleeps, but South Korea's party scene is absolutely insane. Partygoers will start their evenings with maybe some chi-mek (fried chicken and beer). Before you know it, your table is five bottles deep in soju. Later, as the night progresses you'll hop between bars and end up at a lively night club in one of the three popular spots for clubbing.
Not sure where to go? Itaewon is known for its massive influx of foreign residents and visitors. Hongdae is the university town if you're looking to meet some university-aged students. Gangnam is a district everyone has heard of thanks to PSY. It is known for being on the pricier side, but don't be turned off by its reputation for being expensive, Gangnam also has bars that won't burn a hole through your wallet. Before you know it, you'll be stumbling out of a pizza joint to see the sun rising with the same thought every first partygoer in Seoul has, "holy sh*t, it's already morning"!
A full day of relaxing is exactly what your body needs after a long night out. Cleanse your soul at any of Korea's Jimjilbangs. A Jimjilbang is pretty much a spa that can be found on every block and most are open for 24 hours. These places are great for relaxation and are a huge part of the Korean lifestyle. Most Jimjilbangs have changing rooms and bath areas that are separated by sex. If you're not comfortable with strangers, then you're out of luck. The hot baths are to be experienced completely without clothes.
It's common to see older Koreans men or women hanging out at one end of the spa. Not exactly down to hang out with elderly Koreans? That's okay! There are also coed sections for various therapy rooms such as saunas or salt rooms. There are the main Jimjilbangs every tourist checks out, including the Dragon Hill Lodge in Seoul.
If you want something more unique, then you should head to Red Ginseng Spa. Located in Jinan, it is a unique spa that uses ginseng and other herbal remedies for treatments. The best part of this place is the view of Maisan Mountain from the spa's rooftop hot tub.