What’s That You Say? A Penis Park?

The story behind South Korea's unusual park and how it saved the local fishing industry.  
Penises in Haesindang Park come in all shapes and sizes – some are even embellished with faces and limbs. Photo: 
cezzie901/Flickr/Creative Commons (http://bit.ly/1mhaR6e)
Penises in Haesindang Park come in all shapes and sizes – some are even embellished with faces and limbs. Photo: cezzie901/Flickr/Creative Commons (http://bit.ly/1mhaR6e)

In Jan 2015, we read about a sex theme park being built in Taiwan, along the lines of South Korea’s Jeju Loveland—an adult-only theme park complete with sculptures of women in the throes of passion and similarly-themed souvenirs. Reports suggest that Taiwan’s park will also have an outdoor garden with massive erotic structures. Public displays of erotica aren’t a novelty in this part of the world though—there’s a penis park in South Korea.

The phallic structures in the park have intricate carvings and are sometimes made of wood. Photo: Amanderson/Flickr/Creative Commons (http://bit.ly/1mhaR6e)

The phallic structures in the park have intricate carvings and are sometimes made of wood. Photo: Amanderson/Flickr/Creative Commons (http://bit.ly/1mhaR6e)

Giant totem poles stand against a scenic backdrop in the park. Photo: Amanderson/Flickr/Creative Commons (http://bit.ly/1mhaR6e)

Giant totem poles stand against a scenic backdrop in the park. Photo: Amanderson/Flickr/Creative Commons (http://bit.ly/1mhaR6e)

 

A little village named Sinnam near Samcheok, a town on the east coast of South Korea, hit a roadblock in its fishing industry at some point in history. According to legend (and South Korea’s official tourism website) this is because a young maid was caught in a storm while harvesting seaweed and drowned. The village folk believed that the only way to get the fish back in their nets would be to appease the maid’s spirit with male genitalia. Other versions of the tale say that the locals figured out the connection between the need for phallic offerings and an abundance of fish when one of the fishermen relieved himself in the sea and the fish returned. To rid the town of this curse, giant penis sculptures were erected; some believe to help satiate the virgin’s inability to consummate her marriage.

Regardless of the details though, Haesindang Park stands on a hill in Samcheok and is popular with tourists. The emotive penises, some stone, some wooden, appear everywhere: as wind chimes, totem poles, hollowed out benches and little armrests. Some of the sculptures have faces and limbs. While there isn’t an exact date to pinpoint when the park came into being, locals continue to uphold the legend with rituals conducted to keep the curse at bay.

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    Fabiola Monteiro was formerly a member of National Geographic Traveller India's web team. She loves beaches, blue skies, and baking, and is most centred while trying a new cake recipe. She tweets as @thefabmonteiro.

Tags: CULTURE

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