Korea Sparkling: Haeshindang (Penis Park)

01Apr11

I must say Korea is by-far one of the most interesting Country I’ve had the opportunity to visit. If you have not been, it’s a cross between China and Japan. It’s common to describe a country with 2 other countries that have some redeeming qualities, but Korea is the best of both worlds. I was in Korea in the fall to attend my good friend’s wedding in Cheonan(천안) – I’ll leave that for another blog post. Our itinerary included a detailed visit of the northern part of South Korea to watch the Autumn leave fall (an equivalent to Japan’s sakura rain in spring), a short historical tour of the Kingdoms of Korea and of course the DMZ.

The bunch of us who went were all good friends of the groom and have been for the last 4-8 year. It was a great trip as we all had similar values for the crazy and wild. I think the criteria to being friends with him included crude jokes and a very dirty mind. That is probably why he brought us to Haeshindang. When our tour bus stopped, my friend walked through the aisle waking us up by saying how we’re meeting someone’s boyfriend. Since we were all half asleep, we did not know what he was talking about – I just thought we were at some remote area. As we got off and walked towards the entrance, we were bombarded with tall wood monuments resembling what seems to be a giant penis. – Yes I said it right.

Entrance to Haeshindang Park

 

Penis Monuments

It may seem bit odd that a country so strong in culture and traditions can be so bizarre but before any of you start to judge your Korean friends, they are probably some of the most tradition people I’ve met and are not afraid to embrace their passion for art and sexual fantasies. Unlike Japan, Korea does not act out strange sexual fantasies like bukaki that’s surrounded by chauvinistic ideology, instead Koreans praise a woman’s well being. The reason I say this is because the iconic phallic theme of Haeshindang was built based on a folk lore about a “horny” woman who died before marriage.

Large Penis Fountain

The story begins with a woman who was engaged and due to marry but her job as a seaweed collector destroyed her fate one night as a thunder storm broke and waves gushed against the small bank where she worked. Her fiancé usually sends her off shore to the bank and pick her up at night. In this particular night, the waves were too rough and he could not help her. Soon the waves pull her off and she drowned. Soon after her death the fishing village suffered a string of bad fishing seasons and the villagers were beginning to get frustrated. It was believed that all that was caused by the woman being “cheated” of her first night, and they decided to raise a phallic monument resembling a penis to satisfy her urges. Strangely enough, the erection of the monument soon brought bountiful livestock to the fishing village.

Made up? Or real truth? – You decide!



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