Love Land: The South Korean Sex Theme Park
Off the Korean peninsula, in the Straits of Korea is the volcanic island of Jeju (제주도). Dominated by the dormant volcano Mt. Halla (한나산) at its centre, the highest mountain in South Korea, this subtropical island has attracted holiday-makers from the mainland for generations. Over the years many visitor attractions have been built, to entice the throngs of people descending on Jeju throughout the year.
Within Korean culture Jeju island has long been a destination of for young couples and honeymooners. After the Korean War armistice in 1953, Jeju island became a popular destination for honeymooners, many who had married through an old Korean tradition of arranged marriages. The newly married couples were shipped off to the island, often utterly innocent of the ways of sexual intimacy. Their awkwardness was such an issue that hotels would provide lessons in the ways of "marriage" for the shy newlyweds. And so the island became known as a place for sex education among Koreans. Hotels would employ people to act as "professional icebreakers". In the hotels on an evening these professional icebreakers would offer an program of entertainment for the shy and giggling couples, with cheeky innuendo and naughty sexual themed games to help the newlyweds relax.
With the opening up of South Korea to Western culture, and its development into one of the biggest industrial powerhouses of Asia, those more innocence times are slowly becoming a thing of the past. But Koreans still have a sniggering child-like embarrassment publicly about sex. Unlike the Japanese who have a global reputation for their openness when it comes to their sexual quirks. For Koreans such matters are still something that is kept behind closed doors. Even public displays of affection are still frowned on in many places. Which makes one of Jeju's most famous tourist attractions all the more weird. Jeju Love Land (제주러브랜드) is an outdoor sex themed sculpture park which opened in 2004.
The park is literally filled with sex, featuring over 140 sculptures and exhibits, some life-sized many much larger than life. Most of these sculptures are representations of people in the throws of sexual ecstasy and various (sometimes quite odd) sexual positions. Centre pieces of the park include a massive mosaic covered 10 metre (33 feet) long penis and a mosaic covered vulva mound that you can walk through. Scattered throughout the park are a variety of sculptures, from brightly painted comic characters to almost abstract erotica. With plenty of amusing photo opportunities for the sniggering visitors. The park website describes it as "a place where love oriented art and eroticism meet". All the sculptures have been built by some 12 graduate students from Seoul's Hongik University.
I managed to visit Love Land myself in 2011, during my time living in South Korea as a university teacher. The park was full of people of all ages (you have to be over 18 to enter the park), all laughing raucously and taking turns to have their photos taken with the sculptures. Many of which leave you open mouthed, more at their bizarre style than their sexual content. From walking in and being greeted with the four pastel painted naked men stood behind urinals (which is where you can fill up your drinking water bottles), to the fully operational masturbation bicycle. It's no wonder that Love Land is one of the most popular tourist attractions not only in Jeju island, but in the whole of South Korea.