Updated: Feb 26
The designers of South Korea's Haesindang Park (해신당 공원) went over the top like a regiment in their love for wood. Haeseindang is the Penis Park on the country's salty east coast.
It's more precise location is Sinnam, a small town about 20 kilometres (12 miles) south of Samcheok in Gangwon Province. If you are planning to arrive there by boat, you should look out for Sinnam lighthouse, shaped like a red penis rubbed raw by the elements. And why does the Penis Park exist? Well, it's down to a mixture of fear and fable rooted in the 'Legend of Auebawi and Haesindang'. According to legend, a virgin woman was left by her betrothed on a rock in the ocean to collect seaweed. While awaiting his return, a sudden storm washed her from the rock and she drowned. And that's when the fish vanished, or at least when they stopped getting caught. One day, a forlorn fisherman urinated into the sea, and soon after he caught a fish. The assumption was that catching sight of the man's penis had aroused the deceased virgin's spirit and triggered a fish to return.
Villagers reasoned that to soothe the virgin's spirits further, they should let her see a penis more often. They mounted several phallic wooden carvings within view of the sea and held ceremonies on her behalf. After a while more fish returned and the villagers were able to live well again.
The place where the woman died is named Auebawi Rock and the building where a religious ceremony is held twice a year is the Haesindang. The ceremony is marked to this day as a traditional folk event.
The next part of why it exists is commercial. Teach a man to fish and he can eat fish; teach him adolescent woodwork and he can earn enough to buy steak and fries. Visitors flock to Penis Park to see the penis totem poles, penis benches and penis wind chimes. There's a penis-shaped cannon, with a warning to tourists that it should not be mounted.
In all, there are around 300 phallic statues exhibited in various sizes and styles - so something for most tastes. If you like a penis to look like it's up for a conversation, some have been given faces, often animated in appearance. If it's direction and meaning you're seeking, near the cliff top there's a Chinese zodiac of sculptures with each animal carved inside a penis. Based on the lunar calendar that assigns an animal and its reputed attributes to each year in a repeating 12-year cycle, the carvings feature the time-honoured rooster, snake, rabbit, rat, pig, sheep, monkey, dog, ox, tiger, horse and mythical dragon. Given the moon's affect on ocean tides, the calendar is apposite, but Penis Park brochures don't say which animal attracts the most fish nor the most customers when it comes to buying a creature comforter in the shop, although it's a safe bet to say that whatever animal you might be interested in, you will find it there in a shape of penis.
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