Donnerstag, 23. Juni 2011

The Travelogue, Part XXIV - Korea: Couples, Kitsch and Concrete Dicks

This might well be the most entertaining post in my whole blog. It is the product of my visist to Jeju Island, and it will wipe away some of the drearyness my last post might have created. It's subject matter will call for many corny one-liners. You have been warned.

Jeju welcomes foreign visitors.

Jeju Island is Korea's southmost landmass, an hour flight into the Chinese Sea. Within the country, it is heralded as Korea's tropical paradise, which is why it is the prime destination for newlywed couples on honeymoon. It is famed for its tangerines and chocolate, although I wasn't very impressed by either of them. Maybe it is the fact that they are Korean tangerines and chocolate that makes the difference.
As a major tourist destination, Jeju jas a lot to offer, and parks, activities and obscure museums litter the roadside. Most of them fulfil the seemingly limitless Korean desire for cutesy kitschness and light physical entertainment (40 meters of horseriding anyone?). Striving for true cultural immersion, I took lovely Miss Yates under my arm and we began our fearless journey into the heart of pinkness. Follow us on a journey through Korean lovelife. I shall pick two, more mundane adventures can be found on facebook, as usual.

The Glass Castle

Koreans celebrate the bonding of souls and assets much more passionately than our more cynical Western world. Couples will not only cover every single Korean romance movie's filming location to relive their favourite cinematic moments, they will also wear matching outfits...and underwear. 

Matching shirts and cardigans....
...and matching underwear

Once the official frolicking is over, couples retreat to the hundreds of love hotels that cover the whole island. Some of them are quite elaborate and were built to look like European castles or imperial mansions. As they are the cheapest form of accomodation in Korea, I often find myself unloading my backpack in a room covered in red light and fake rose petals. But I disgress. 

Lovehotels shine at night
 Featuring various objects made from glass, the aptly named Glass Castle is as Korean honeymoon destination as it could be: hearts and rhinestones abound, and various disney-coloured landscapes frame your perfect memory to show to mum when you get back home. It's a true kitsch heaven, and if you never grew out of Cinderella, you will love this place.

Cutesy fairies point the way
A lot of the exhibits are created for fotoshooting
Despite appearance, the kids value of the park is relatively low.
The theme must be...
...everything tacky.... one place.
I admit, we skipped it. It was too much to handle.
All made of glass! So pretty!
It's like 'Cinderella' meets 'Taxi Driver'.

Jeju Loveland & The Museum of Sex and Health

If you read my last blog post, you have heard that traditional Korean society puts more emphasis on propriety and status of the family then the happiness of the individual. Arranged marriages and widespread sexual segregation did not necessarily help the individual discover the joys of physical love. When Korea became more liberal, Jeju Loveland and its museum was created to bring some sexual education (and ideas) to the usually anxious couples. The result is a somewhat comical, strangely akward theme park of random art bits, with the odd helpful explanation thrown in. If you ever wanted to hang out with Korean grannies giggling at gigantic stone phalluses, this is the place to go. I shall leave you now, the pictures will do the talking.

No cutesy fairies here.

I like tall, but there's limits. Especially with Yoga.
The mascot of Jeju, allegedly an old man, is just another dick.
Loveland offers many hands-on interactive art experiences...
...and the amount of pictue value is endless.
Some sculptures are more...abstract.
Me watching the 'Vagina Monologues'

And I have yet to see an enshrined vagina.

Mermen, on the other hand, are now ticked off the list.
Believe it or not, copulation between animals and women was a recurring theme.
It's not only a four star difficulty position, it is also politically questionable (outside Korea).

This picture is in the "learn about fetishes" corner and features a stoned Britpopper in a tracksuit having a crossdressing obsession. If they were aware of the subtleties of that setup?

No comment.
It's an traditional style drawing of a German prince having sex in rollerskates. Of course.
There are also commercials.
Ambiguous signage stands throughout the park.
Souvenirs made by local artists can be bought in the giftshop.

The two grandmas just took a picture with it. Stonefaced.
Miss Yates put in maximum effort to get me good pictures.
Now this is my best holiday picture ever.

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