중앙데일리

Time goes on, but toilets stay the same

Many Koreans prefer squatters for economic and hygiene reasons

Oct 03,2004
Here’s this week’s tip on Korean language and customs:

Q:
Last week, I went to one of the local motor vehicle offices in Gangnam. Although the building was quite old, it looked as if the bathroom has been recently renovated. The women’s bathroom was very clean and was painted in pink and decorated with artificial flowers. Each closet door had a small picture frame hanging on it.

What shocked me were the toilets ― they were squatters. I don’t understand the logic behind this. Why would the building owner spend a lot of money decorating the bathroom in such an over-the-top manner yet keep the old, Korean-style toilets?

A:
Squatters are common in many parts of Asia, and are very common in public facilities in Korea. The older generation in Korea prefers these type of toilets because it’s what they are used to.

Many Koreans would rather use squatters for sanitary reasons; they find Western toilets less hygienic. Squatters are also known to use less water than Western toilets, which helps explain why some building proprietors prefer the former.

However, some facilities, such as highway rest areas, have added Western toilets for foreigners who are not used to squatters.


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