Tuesday, May 08, 2007

So this guy went into a Korean bathroom, and there was no toilet paper...

Dear Korean,

Why do some bathrooms in Korea (western-style ones) say that you should put used toilet paper in a trash can next to the toilet instead of the toilet itself? I would think that a trash can just sitting around full of fecal used toilet paper would be a big health hazard. The flush on the toilets seem to be perfectly strong and don't jam up, yet many bathrooms still have big notices telling people to put their waste paper in a trash can instead.

If It's Brown, Flush It Down

Dear Bathroom User,

You just never know if the toilet would jam up with excess amount of toilet paper. Some people definitely go completely overboard with the amount of paper required for the act. In fact, this is not unique to Korea either -- the exact same problem happens in America, especially in skyscrapers with complicated plumbing systems. The solution for the New York skyscrapers apparently is to use single-ply toilet papers (possibly because of the health hazard that you mentioned.) So we have this hilarious consequence of all these Wall Street bigwig banks and law firms using single-ply toilet paper.

Speaking of Korean public bathrooms, until the late 1990s very few Korean public bathrooms (ones in subways, etc; bathrooms in restaurants and shopping centers are not included here) had toilet paper, because people would routinely steal them. People generally carried their own Kleenex for emergency use, but almost all Koreans (especially men, who don't carry a purse) experienced a situation in which he was forced to contemplate the next step after he has relieved himself. So a very popular series of jokes in Korea involves a situation in which someone runs out of toilet paper in a public restroom. The Korean's favorite one is the following:

Two guys were sitting in the public bathroom stalls, when the first guy talks to the second guy:
A: Er, excuse me. Do you have any toilet paper?
B: I'm sorry, I do, but just enough for myself.
A: Oh come on, can you please help me out?
B: No way man, I'm sorry.
A: Look, I'll pay you $10 for that toilet paper.
B: I'm sorry, I really need this.
$10 bill is slipped into B's stall from A's stall.
A: Alright then, do you have ten $1 bills?

Do you have any good no-toilet paper jokes? Send them over this way, and the Korean will post them.

Got a question or comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@hotmail.com


  1. speaking of korean bathroom jokes, you can try to see this music video of wonder girls. it's like a parody to the dream girls. hope you like the video. click here to watch it.

  2. Sorry but bathroom jokes always remind me of a scene from the drama My Lovely Sam Soon. Here it is on youtube from episode 9, it starts at 6:45.

    I know this post is old, but maybe a late browser like me will be able to see it someday.

  3. lol,
    its the same in the philippines
    if u don't bring your own toilet paper then your dead xD

  4. I like what they do in Indonesia. They usually have some kind of water hose next to the toilet to wash your backside after the dirty deed. When I go back to North America (Canada), it will be hard to get used to the bathrooms there.

    In any case, nice post. The place where I work (in Korea) never has toilet paper. To get soap, you have to masturbate the soap on a metal pole to wash your hands properly.

  5. This was covered in more depth in the KT.


  6. THE KOREAN wrote"
    Speaking of Korean public bathrooms, until the late 1990s very few Korean public bathrooms (ones in subways, etc; bathrooms in restaurants and shopping centers are not included here) had toilet paper, because people would routinely steal them."

    It's 2009 and the situation has not changed. If you enter a public restroom in Korea for, um, a number two, you should have your own toilet paper.

    Thank God for cell phones, because sometimes, those few men in Korea without purses, i.e., foreigners, sometimes do not carry TP and a quick phone call to a Korean spouse will produce the necessary implement to get the job done.

  7. Actually, the putting the paper in the bin is very common anywhere else than Europe and America, in my experience. In central America you never flush it, except in places where it's mostly tourists. It's considered that it will ruin your toilet.

  8. @Celia: ah yes, I remember when I was in Belize how we threw our TP away in a trash can next to the toilet.

    On the subject of Korean bathrooms, I'm glad to see more raised toilet seats rather than the ones in the ground. Didn't get too comfortable with using those.

  9. Suddenly having to tote around a diaper bag isn't such an inconvenient thing. There is always something to use to clean up with in that bag if there is a no toilet paper situation.My husband hates carrying that bag but it has saved him once or twice.

  10. Back in the 70s public toilets were porcelain holes in the floor with a flush handle.


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