PICS: Loveland, a park too sexy for its own art (18NS)

If you think the Harry Potter theme park is next level or that the Hello Kitty Park in Japan and the Dwarf Empire in China is strange, think again and move your eyes awkwardly in the direction of Jeju, the honeymoon island off the south coast of South Korea.

Jeju Island has been dubbed the honeymoon island of South Korea (or the Hawaii of South Korea) and it attracts newlyweds from all over Asia with its beaches, fancy hotels, hiking trails, waterfalls, caves, waterparks and the opportunity to jet around the relatively small island on a scooter.

And that’s not all. There’s also Loveland; a sculpture theme park with an age restriction.

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That’s right, if you are under 18 you’ll have to settle for the island’s teddy bear museum or trick eye museum instead.

In a society as conservative as Korea, where sex and sexuality is a culturally taboo topic, comes Jeju Loveland, a sculpture park erected in 2004 in an effort to break down the traditional taboos. And while the name, ‘Loveland’ might leave a bit up to the imagination, the sculptures are the complete opposite; no imagination required whatsoever.

In the name of honeymooning and conservatism, Jeju Loveland serves as the unofficial guidebook for honeymooners, a place to explore virgin territory and learn more about the facts of life through giant sculptures kama sutraing their way around the park in various positions, colours and scenarios. Here, subtleness takes a back seat – in fact, subtleness was not even invited to the party – as phallic symbols and female anatomy are positioned centre stage.

Display at Jeju Loveland (Image by: Anje Rautenbach)

Jeju Loveland is home to more than 140 sculptures which were designed by art graduates from Hongik University in Seoul for the visitor to appreciate the natural beauty of sexuality in a place where sexually-orientated art and eroticism meet. There are exhibitions with small clay sculptures showing different nationalities going at it to bigger pieces, decorated in mosaic and also more interactive pieces where you have to turn a handle for motion and a car, wiggling up and down while sexy-time noises can be heard over the speaker. You’ll spot entwined legs everywhere; chairs, mountains, water fountains and door handles are suggestively shaped into body parts and even the dogs, turtles and pigs are getting lucky. And of course, in the land where selfie sticks rule the day, some statues are cleverly positioned for the perfect photo opportunity; all you have to do is swallow your giggle and smile.

Bizarre.

But while Loveland may have been a first for South Korea in 2004, it is definitely not the last.

Another theme park, similar to Jeju Loveland, opened a few years later in Gyeongju, a town which was once the old capital of the Silla Dynasty and is well-known for its remarkable concentration of historical remains and Buddhist art.  Gyeongju Love Castle is sort of a museum with exhibitions from around the world, an extravagant display of toys, plus an alley wherein you’ll find – or rather hear – the different ‘love making sounds’ from different countries.

Display at Jeju Loveland (Image by: Anje Rautenbach)

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Kinky? Or just weird?

But wait there’s more. While Jeju’s Loveland and Gyeongju’s Love Castle are a bit on the silly side, there’s also another place following in the theme’s footsteps on the South Korean east coast called Haesindang Park. Translation?  Penis park.

Haesindang Park is home to hundreds of phallic symbols and statues – some are big, some are small, it’s made from wood, it’s made from stone, some have teeth and others just smile. Legend has it that the park was erected in memory of a young girl who drowned while harvesting seaweed in a storm; after the incident the fishing industry took a dive and the village folk believed that in order to get their fish back, they had to calm the young girl’s spirit with male genitalia. To this day locals continue with rituals to keep the curse at bay.

Fact or fiction or just a legend hard to swallow?

If you ever find yourself in conservative South Korea you now know where to go for a giggle. Or if you want to turn up the heat for Valentine’s Day or any other day for that matter, just pick a park of your choice.

But remember, don’t kiss in public, don’t show cleavage and don’t show your shoulders – under no circumstances - that is frowned upon and considered very provocative.

Mmm. Shoulders. Kinky.

Anje Rautenbach is the writer behind the blog Going Somewhere Slowly, find her Facebook,Twitter  or on Instagram

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