Koreans, much like Americans, have a complicated sometimes contradictory relationship with sex.
On the one hand, you have the extremely saccharine Korean pop stars and the clean cut Korean dramas, where the height of romantic fervor is often a touch of lips with no movement. It’s supposed to be a kiss but looks too much like a dead fish re-enactment to be pleasurable. On the other hand: flashy love motels in every city, 노래타운s (noraetowns) where you can sing with “assistance,” barbershops with two poles but no hair cutting services, and coffee shops with no windows (다방s). Yeah. Sex is for sale everywhere in South Korea and it’s not really that far from my school.
I feel like there’s some kind of meme out there that Koreans aren’t sexual and that just isn’t true. I will say though that they strike me as being reluctant to own it. I’ve played my share of “Never Have I Ever” drinking games and invariably the Westerners are matter-of-fact about how yes, done this, done that, let’s share stories and bond. Meanwhile, the Koreans’ English abilities start to falter. Memories go missing and people go quiet. Apparently it’s a thing for Koreans to talk the next day. Ugh, it’s so not fun.
Then there was that one guy at the language meetup who was adamant about being pure… but had a sexy Kpop star for his phone’s wallpaper. (He then claimed the phone was not his.)
It just… it’s ok. It doesn’t make you a bad person for having a sexuality. It makes you a human being.
And I’m not saying that for the benefit of Koreans, but everybody.
So that brings us to the existence of Jeju Island’s Loveland.
The story behind the erotic sculpture park ostensibly goes something like this: Koreans who don’t know each other all that well get married and then honeymoon in Jeju where they have no idea what to do with each other and have to be taught. Supposedly hotels used to help people out with that. (I have no idea if hotels still do that kind of thing.) And now a park full of sculptures by graduates of Seoul’s Hongik University is there to assist as well.
For whatever reason, we couldn’t find Loveland in our GPS and when we popped the address in, it took us to the “Provincial Art Museum.” Okay, sure. We drove to a grubby colorless building covered in acid rain stains and paid 9,000KRW/USD$9 for admission.
Then we started counting boners until there were too many to remember.
Loveland is fun, colorful, graphic and completely unapologetic about being an erotic sculpture park. And that’s the best thing to be, unforgivably and precisely, exactly what you are. Some might even call it sexy.
There are tons of pictures elsewhere on the Internet that can give you a much better tour of the park than I can. I will only give you two, starting with the maybe-but-not-really SFW picture of 욕망/ Desire:
(I cropped out most of the statue; that counts for something, right?)
The really beautiful thing about Loveland was it’s full embrace of the female gaze AND the male gaze. It was very equal opportunity on who among the statues got to enjoy the sex (one always hopes the answer is EVERYBODY in every encounter) and stayed fairly realistic with its body proportions. No Barbie dolls here. Just a ton of fucking.
I feel like America would have really messed that up if they had an erotic sculpture park.
(It was embarrassing to take this shot because all the ahjummas and ahjussis stopped to watch me.
Btw, ahjummas looking at erotic sculptures is one of the best things in life.)
I didn’t see anything gay though.
If anyone wanted to know what we bought at Loveland, it was a set of completely un-erotic Jeju postcards. It remains the only place I could find any. (If you want the chance to receive one, you can sign up here.) We also bought pumice stones to scrape the calluses off our feet. Super sexy, I know.
[This post was originally published on February 10, 2015. It has been backdated for the sake of tidier, chronological organization.]