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Korean Poopy Papers

October 30, 2008

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Somebody please, please explain this to us! We’ve noticed that all of the toilets in our schools and other public places have wastebaskets beside them. For some reason, these wastebaskets often have used toilet paper in them. We asked people about it, and this is the best explanation we’ve been given so far: the Korean sewage system is different than the sewage system we’re used to in North America. It can’t handle toilet paper, for some reason. And so, to prevent the toilets from deeply clogging, it’s best to leave our poopy papers in the wastebasket. This is the main reason why so much Korean toilet paper is scented, to mask the scent that can’t be flushed away. Is this really it? This was the explanation that was offered to us from a Korean coworker, but it doesn’t really make sense to us. The toilet can handle big logs of poop, but not the paper itself? Surely there must be another reason. Anyone? Someone?

Anyhow, since we’re in the business of being informative on all things Korean, this also has to be said about Korean Toilets: good luck finding toilet paper beside them. Every toilet in my (Simon’s) school is paperless, and the same could be said about just about every other public toilet we’ve visited in Bucheon. It’s quite annoying. I had to bring in my own roll. I left it in the mens washroom. It was stolen after a couple of days. I brought in another roll and it was stolen again. This could be the main reason why you’ll never find toilet paper laying around: there are very efficient toilet paper thieves who make regular rounds. Your best bet – and supposedly common practice here in Korea – is to have pocket packets of toilet paper, sold in all convenience and grocery stores near you.

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Korean Poopy Papers

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  1. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mauritania- and the custom there also was to use a large plastic teapot/watering can full of water called a makaresh in the bathroom. You couldn’t buy toilet paper except in a few places in the capital city. You basically shower off your nethers rather than wipe them with toilet paper- but you only use your left hand if you need to splash- the right hand is to hold the makaresh. There’s always water and soap in the toilet (although it is usually a turkish toilet, the kind in the floor that you squat over). Provided you wash your hands with soap, I actually felt just as clean as I did in America post-toilet (but yes, you keep your nails cut really short)- and anyways, there wasn’t another option. It’s accompanied by a cultural taboo against eating with the left hand and giving or receiving gifts with the left hand. Now, I wasn’t like some volunteers who continued the practice once they were back in the states: but given the choice between a bathroom where people clean themselves with the makaresh, and one with cans of used toilet paper, I’d rather be in the one with the makaresh.

    4 years ago
  2. Most hispanics do the same thing (probably because most hispanic cultures have similar sewagegovermentrulesidk?)

    I’ve lived in Florida for over ten years now though, and we’d lived in quite a few houses where the toiltets also did not take wads of paper well. The only difference is we put a BAG in the trash, so when it’s time to throw it out, you shut it neatly and throw it away- rather than having unmentionables touching your trashcan.

    4 years ago
  3. Korea has some really awesome toilets as well in some malls as well :D

    6 years ago