“There once lived a young maid who was engaged,” is the fairytale beginning behind Haesindang Penis Park on South Korea’s official tourism website. According to legend, the young virgin maid, abandoned in the East Sea by her fiancée after a grueling day harvesting seaweed, drowned. Following her death, all the fish in the sea disappeared, until a local fisherman relieved himself into the water- and some fish resurfaced. Local villagers came to the conclusion that male genitalia pleased the young maid. Phallic wooden carvings were built on her behalf, and the fish returned.
Haesindang Park in Sinnam, South Korea, has continued the tradition. Over fifty penis statues designed by art students at a nearby university dot the landscape. There are penis wind chimes and totem poles, veiny canons made of iron and a row of fully clothed life-size men masturbating as their dogs look on. Giant wrinkled dicks curve upwards towards the sky in a gentle slope; others stand erect. The benches are hollowed out wooden penises, with smaller penises that can be used as convenient and comfortable armrests.
Korea has a long tradition of phallus-centered sexual culture. “Because the male sex is considered sexually superior to the female sex…only the phallus is worth consideration,” writes Huso Yi, doctoral candidate at New York University. Over 800 phallic stones and wooden objects have been discovered in Korea; it is believed that many more were destroyed during the Japanese colonization and subsequent modernization. Archaeologists have discovered over 45 historical remains that were used for sexual worship ranging from prayers for village protection to preventing a woman’s promiscuity.
Though outnumbered by penises, there are a few vaginas to be found in Haesindang Park. Vulvas, too, have their place in Korea- they provide a ying-yang balance to the strong, powerful phallus. Vulva stones and fountains are found throughout the country, generally near phallic sites. In some traditions, women hoping to become pregnant with a son should not only pray in front of a vagina statue, but also rub their own genitals against it.
Rubbing is not encouraged at the Haesindang Park, and neither are children, who must be left at the play area near the park’s entrance. With entrance forbidden to anyone under the age of 19, Haesindang may be a fairytale, but it’s not one for the kids.
Photo by Mangy via Flickr.