Whether you’re traveling to South Korea for a trip or plan to move here someday, it’s a good idea to prepare for all possible restroom in South Korea experiences. After being in South Korea for only 7 weeks, we’ve seen our fair share of restrooms! This post will give you a look into what the restrooms are like here.
1. You May Have to Use a Squat Potty.
Before coming to South Korea, I read many blogs and online resources to better prepare, so I was aware of this — but it could be a shock if you’re not expecting this. Much of South Korea still has an older plumbing systems in place so it’s not uncommon to open the restroom stall and find a squat potty. Luckily, we hardly have to use toilets. Once a week, I have to use a squat potty at one of my travel schools.
Otherwise, I’ve seen these toilets at bus stations and hospitals. Our apartment toilet is a regular one and so are the toilets at our other schools. If you have to use these on a regular basis, just think of how much leg muscle you will have!
2. The toilet paper is often kept OUTSIDE of the stall.
Yes — that’s right. In most cases, the toilet paper is located outside of the stall. In my one school, it’s directly outside of the stall. When in the stall, I always find an empty toilet paper dispenser. My guess is that this is their way of discouraging you from over-using paper that you don’t need, especially because the plumbing is so old.
At one of my other travel schools, there is NO toilet paper. The teacher actually keeps a roll of it on his desk and you’re supposed to grab some before you go to the restroom! I now keep some extra toilet paper in my backpack.
3. You should dispose of your toilet paper in the garbage bin.
When using the restroom in South Korea, you’re not supposed to flush your toilet paper! WHAT??!! This is one thing that still feels very strange to me. Since the plumbing is so old, it’s easier for the toilets to get backed up and have problems. To prevent this, you will see little garbage bins inside of the restroom stalls. Once using your toilet paper, you’re supposed to dispose of it by placing it in the bin. What’s so weird about it to me is that many of the bins don’t have a garbage bag inside!
I’ve seen some signs inside of the stall that ask you not to flush. This was the case at some of the public restrooms that we’ve gone in and at a hostel that we stayed at.
4. You may find a toilet with superpowers!
If you don’t find a squat potty or western-style toilet when you walk into the stall, you may find one of the superpower toilets! These toilets have a variety of settings including bidet functions, dryers, seat warmers and more. I haven’t encountered these at any of my schools, but have seen them at airports, hotels, and public restrooms. They seem so fancy to me, compared to squat potties!
Keep in mind that there are many buttons on these toilets and they’re usually labeled in Korean — so if you don’t know, it’s best not to go pushing every button or you may be in for a surprise! 🙂 On almost every one of these toilets, the flushing button is on the side of the toilet — separate from all the other fancy buttons.
There you have it — now you know a bit more about what to expect when using the restroom in South Korea!