Every country has its quirks. Scotland included. Loin-clothed, snaggle-toothed Picts forcing Romans to keep us out of “civilization’ saw us off to a flying start in the weirdness stakes. Since then we’ve been cultivating our oddness with unrivalled enthusiasm: men in kilts, dining on sheep innards baked in the ovine’s stomach lining, and citing Irvine Welsh as a literary marvel are a drop in our vast, eccentric ocean.
So after arriving on the shores of Korea, a country where make-up is regularly applied to the faces of dogs and bottles of soju are cheaper than water, it was only a matter of time until the inception of my side project The Hunt For Weird Korea took hold.
A Park Full Of Penises
Things kicked off 6 weeks ago with a hilarity-filled trip to Haesindang Park, aka Penis Park. Like most things, the clue’s in the name: it’s a park and it’s full of penises.
Using the James Bond villain’s formula of disguising a secret lair as a tropical island, Penis Park is disguised as beautiful, natural coastline. Located on a hillside overlooking the East Sea and next to a picturesque village, no one would guess that between all those trees lurks a rampant phallic jungle housing countless penile sculptures. Giant ones.
Wooden erections towered everywhere, showcasing a unique interpretation of the male genitalia. More imaginative offerings came in the form of a double-ended penile gong hammer. Another gem was an imposing black cock-canon water-feature. But my favourite place of all was Penis Henge: a circle of 8ft granite cocks boasting virile beasts carved against each shaft. Truly a sight like no other.
So why, in a country where holding hands in public can equate to social suicide, does Penis Park exist? Well, according to local legend, it’s all thanks to a girl who drowned having never had sex. Soon after, the local fishermen noticed fish stocks depleting and, in a wild leap of logic, deduced the virginous temptress was to blame. So in a second display of unparalleled logic, an enterprising fisherman “fertilised” the sea in an effort to bring stocks back.
He tried, and, weirdly, they returned.
True or not, the park has paid homage to this resourceful young man by sculpting a trio of fishermen overlooking the sea and “gifting” their seed to the dead girl. A small white dog is watching them and further down the hill is a fully-clothed statue of the girl: winsome in her innocence despite being surrounded by dicks.
Expecting to see only weird-seeking westerners like ourselves, it pleased me when a bus-load of middle-aged Koreans came romping down the hillside laughing and pointing like an aged hen party. There were also a few couples taking a romantic stroll through the undergrowth, although in fairness the men were mostly staring at their shoes.
Penis Park is definitely a wonder like no other. Or so I thought. Korea’s Jeju Island is also home to Loveland, an erotic sculpture park. It seems to lack some of the romance and rustic charm of Haesindang Park with its tale of lost love and kept virginity justifying its existence. Having said that, it is Husband and I’s wedding anniversary soon….