*Warning: This article features photos of artworks of a highly sexual nature*
This September, I used the 5-day Chuseok public holiday to visit one of the most beautiful spots in Korea; Jeju Island. Known for it’s volcanic craters, the stunning Hallabong mountain and it’s many delicious delicacies, Jeju is a great place for holidays of all kinds, but it’s especially well known as a honeymoon spot. Part of the appeal to honeymooners is not just the romantic setting of a beautiful island sunset, but also the fact at Jeju there is an amusement park entirely dedicated to sex.
I’m not afraid to admit that I had been looking forward to seeing Korea’s famous ‘sex park’. The thought of penis statues and masturbation celebration creates school girl giggling even in the most serious of adults. Loveland featured in a Vice documentary a couple of years ago, it was a programme based on South Korea’s declining birth rate and the government’s efforts to increase the population.
For me though, Loveland did the opposite. For me it created a version of sex that I didn’t want to celebrate, it promoted abuse against women, gave an image of sex being a ‘western’ thing and to be honest it was all pretty ugly. What you’re about to read is just my personal opinion, after visiting I wouldn’t recommend Loveland to anyone but if you really want to see it for yourself then please go and make your own judgments.
On first impressions Loveland seems like a light hearted place, a place for Koreans and tourists alike to muck about and have a giggle. Penis paintings adorn the tarmacked walkways, sculptures of white women stroking themselves, or of white men stroking white women, or of white men and white women engaging in sex are plentiful around the well maintained and colourfully pleasant park. This is something that first got on my nerves – why are all the sculptures western men and women? Doesn’t this only further the xenophobia and misrepresentation of foreigners in Korea?
I walked around the park with a group of other girls and the more we walked, the more silent we all became. The more sexual sculptures we saw, the more sick we felt. The truth was I don’t think we knew what to say to each other, were we just prudes, were we in shock, were we offended? None of us really knew what to think.
Throughout the park I saw men posing for photos with sculptures designed to make them look like they were having sex with girls. I didn’t see any sculptures like that designed for women.
However, what was most disturbing was inside a museum type of building in the centre of the park. I didn’t take any photos of what I saw there mostly because I knew I didn’t want anything like that adorning the pages of my own blog. I didn’t even want it on my camera. Also,. I felt the need to escape that building as fast as I could, the displays were so frightening that I felt like I was suffocating in sexism and ignorance.
What I saw were plasticine models of sexual scenarios. Most of the models were of Korean people. One scenario was inside a typical Korean home, where a family slept together at night. The father of the family straddled the mother, the look on the mother’s face being one of horror and pain, whilst a frightened daughter lay eyes open beside them and across the room a son watched, smiling. To me, it looked as though the mother was being raped. It was not a funny scene and the reason for this being created and put on display was beyond me.
Another plasticine scenario featured a toilet block where men and women were having sex in each cubicle while peeping toms climbed over to get a look. On the outside of the toilet block a man held a women by the wrist. The women was pulling away but she was being forced into the toilet block by the male character. Her face was frightened and his was predatory. Understandably my friends and I were disgusted. I looked around at other tourists, the western guys in our tour group also looked quite horrified, but Korean men and women looked on jollily, giggling away, pointing and laughing.
It was at this point I wanted to leave the park. I didn’t want to be in a place that found sexual abuse, harassment and rape funny.
My photos don’t show enough of the park in hindsight, but since I was so disturbed by Loveland I really couldn’t face to take many pictures. Supposedly a park which celebrates the art of love making, instead I found it to be in bad taste and massively offensive to females. I’m not sure if I’m the only one to feel this way after visiting so please write in the comments below what you thought if you have been as it will help me to understand how different people interpret tourist attractions like this. Although it pains me to say, it has to be taken into consideration that this is Korea, and the culture here is different. That doesn’t make it ok but it does need to be said.