Sunday, May 09, 2010

My least favorite thing in Korea

Korea is a hodgepodge of cultural oddities. Some aspects of Korea are wonderful. CHEAP public transportation is an excellent example. I can complain all I want that the Korean subway moves slowly and is inefficient in it's design, but I cannot complain that it costs me a total of $2 to go clear across the city. The subway in London is close to $8 one way. And we all know how I LOVE a good deal.

Another fabulous aspect of Korea is the street food. It is greasy, fattening and readily available on each and every corner of Seoul. It is one of the most commented aspects from the rare tourist visiting Korea. Street food is awesome!

However, the facet of Korean culture that I least appreciate is the bathroom. But more specifically the shower. (There is more about the Korean bathroom that we shall delve into later, but as I am choosing not to write a dissertation on every irritating feature of the Korean restroom, at least in this post, we shall stay short and to the point today) Our shower is great (when there is hot water). We've got water pressure and a wide stream, however what I find fault with in the bathroom is the lack of separation between shower and the remaining space. In most American homes the shower head is either found above the bathtub or blocked off by glass walls or ceramic tiling. It is a vital design in the bathroom that the shower is separated from the toilet or the sink. I never even knew there might be others in the world, at least those with running water, who might purposefully choose to stray from this brilliant design. However in most Korean bathrooms, the shower is the bathroom, not a separated part of the bathroom. There is no barrier to block the water from spraying the entirety of the room. Our drain for the shower is actually below the sink in the middle of the bathroom. Yes, it is strange, but more than strange, it is just plain irritating.

What are the downsides to this bizarre design you might ask?

-There is ALWAYS a wet floor. The Korean solution is bath shoes. Every bathroom, even public bathrooms such as in restaurants, provide shower shoes. The problem lies in that shower shoes get wet as well and if you walk into the bathroom in your socks or slip your socked feet into already wet shower shoes the result is sopping wet socks. Who likes their socks wet? Psychopaths, those are the only nutcases crazy enough to enjoy wet socks.

-Wet toilet- Have you ever sat on a wet toilet seat? And I mean a dripping wet toilet seat. Let's just say, it is pleasant. It's about as pleasant as falling into the toilet bowl because your husband forgot to put the seat down.

-Wet things- When there is no closed off storage space in your bathroom, you have the added pleasure of watering everything you keep in the bathroom. Your toothpaste, you moisturizer, razor you name it, it gets wet. If you don't think that your inanimate objects need watering and shade to grow then the bathroom is the wrong place for them.

What are the positive aspects?

I have yet to discover why this design would in the least be beneficial. Maybe it makes it cheaper to construct and also less work for the builders?

Maybe Koreans really like everything they own to be soaked daily. Maybe Koreans never wear socks in the house. I really can't answer why one would design such a disastrous bathroom, but I can tell you, I DON'T LIKE IT! And when I am getting back to the USA, one of the first things on my 'To Do List' is to take a hot bubble bath. Yesssiree, I miss my bathtub, and my normal shower.

But for all those folks who might be concerned about our welfare after reading this cantankerous post, please don't worry. We are actually very happy at the moment despite the tone of a few of the previous posts. We are productive members in society. We are together. Home is where the heart is, and my heart is lying next to me. Life is good, despite an ill-designed bathroom.


MissKris said...

Ewwwww...don't think I'd like that, either! I have a dear friend whose in-laws were missionaries in Korea for over 20 years and she lived in Korea as a young bride for about a year. She and her husband have pretty close ties to a lot of the church members in Seoul and Busan. In fact, her husband was over there for a couple of weeks this past month, helping out with some property disputes and other issues. Karen has told me there are a lot of cultural differences between us and them. A recent houseguest of theirs from Korea was busy going thru her kitchen drawers when she came down in the morning and he told her how much 'stuff' she had in ALL of her drawers...he'd been busy looking thru them thruout the downstairs of the house. She said it was shocking enough to see him GO thru them, let alone CONFESS to it so openly, lol! She and her hubby have a young minister living with them for 6 months right now while he attends a university here in Portland to help learn more English. My hubby and I used to be very involved in our merchant seaman ministry before 9/11 happened and the shipping security changed. We met lots of Koreans and people from many other countries as well. Always fascinating to learn how different - and yet, how alike - we all are.

Bekah said...

I think blogger just ate my comment? Anyway...what I said was...

Yeah, I had to use a shower like this while I was in Thailand, and Im not a fan. My pants always got wet, no matter how I hopped around trying to put them on.

Ronnica said...

This is a pretty Asian think I think. Not pleasant to our way of thinking, but it's merely a difference of what's "normal!"

Brenda said...

The showers in Argentina are this way too. I think that people just don't keep anything in the bathroom and they don't have as much stuff in general, so its not a problem for them.

It is interesting though.