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World’s Worst Toilet: #7 Mysteries in a Korean public school restrooms

korean school toilet

My Korean Public School restroom

This post comes a bit belated (and slightly modified as I occasionally have idiots reading this and not understanding what this World’s Worst Toilet series is about and that I do it for fun), but I have to do this post for laughs.

When I was teaching in Korea, there was something missing in all my Korean public school johns. Take a look at the photos below and guess what it was…

towel dispenser

squat toilet

toilet paper dispenser

toilet roll dispenser

toilet roll dispenser

How the hell do people wipe up in this bathroom?  Wouldn’t it be a horrible if you had to poo, and found toilet paper didn’t exist in this bathroom? Like, WTF Korea?

Well, unlike public schools in the west, many bathrooms in public elementary schools (or even some public facilities) in Korea do not offer toilet paper in their faciliities. If you read 10 (more) Shocking Facts about Korean schools, you’d find that I have to bring my own roll of toilet paper with me to work at school and carry it with me to the bathroom. Unlike work environments in the U.S., this basic item, is not even provided to me, by my own workplace. Shocking.

So, how do the kids go to the bathroom? Their class has a toilet paper roll and when they need to go to the bathroom, they tear a portion and take it with them!

Which brings an interesting question that I couldn’t even answer after an entire year… how do you gauge how much you’ll need?

What are some of your worst experiences in a bathroom? Was it smell, size, cleanliness, technology, culture shock, meeting an experience different from the way you were raised? Share it…


  1. IU says:

    what if u need to poo because maybe ur stomach was hurting,how are u suppose to poo on the “squatter”?

  2. DomHyo says:

    I got really lucky with my current school. Toilet paper is always available on on call. My first public school had the same happenings in those pictures.

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @DomHyo: Lucky. At first I so hrmph! about not having toilet paper and having to bring my own from home. ha ha… It’s those little western tics we’re so used to assuming that Korea teaches us to change.

  3. maakopla says:

    This toilet seems really clean, pretty far from the worst toilets I have seen while traveling Asia. Anyway, I have no problem with the squat toilet and there is never toilet paper in Asian toilets anywhere.

    • @maakopla: With my World’s Worst Toilet series, worst isn’t always defined by “lack of cleanliness”. You might have missed the point entirely- the fact these are public elementary school bathrooms, with no toilet paper and that little elementary school kids have to tear sheets of tp from the classroom roll to take with them (or I and the rest of the teachers have to carry a roll with them to the bathroom) on a DAILY ONGOING basis, puts it in one of *my* worst categories.

      • maakopla says:

        Okay, if you put it that way. Anyway, i am pretty used to the fact that most of the public toilets in any Asian countries don’t have toilet papers (even in schools) so I failed to notice this. That’s why I always stock up on tissues xD

  4. Andrew says:

    The bathrooms at my school looked almost identical. The only thing I might say is that the teachers’ bathroom had both a western toilet and a squatter, in addition to toilet paper.

    There was a roll or two of toilet paper in every classroom to my knowledge and the children asked for it when they needed it. Otherwise they were to do without.

    I found that this policy actually contributed to waste. How so? I would never be caught with ‘my pants down’ both metaphorically and literally, so it caused me to overcompensate. If I were to run out, what options did I have? You either have to bring the whole roll or you have to bring enough to make sure you will not run out.

    I know this because it was my life for two years. Also, I broke my dominant hand while in Korea (in the batting cages) and was left using a squatter and trying to shimmy my pants up/down with my bum hand. Oh, the joys of travel! Another insightful and relevant post. This is 100% accurate based upon my two years in Korea. ^^

    • @Andrew: Thanks for sharing! Yup, your experience was mine!I totally agree that toilets w/ no tp only adds to overcompensation.I’m bad at gauging, so I used to take my tp roll with me all the time. But it tells everyone what your business is. For kids, I imagine it just makes them a bit dirtier– to undercompensate…ooh. Sorry about your bum hand. The pants shimmying (ha ha…) couldn’t have been fun or funny at the time!

  5. Laura in Cancun says:

    My Mexican office bathroom is always well-stocked on TP… wish I could say the same for public restrooms in Mexico! Most toilets here also don’t have a toilet seat… that goes for public restrooms and private residences.

    At least we have Western toilets, right?

    • @Laura: Definite thumbs up to western toilets! But no toilet seats…makes me think, it’s just as good as a squatter and perhaps worse. I wonder if anyone stands on those seats like a squatter?

  6. Dave says:

    Something about public toilets anywhere in the world is a little unsettling. I’m not sure why they are never so savory when everyone complains about them…

    A lack of paper might have something to do with it in this case though!

    • @Dave: ha ha… Glad you got it. The lack of toilet paper were in all the bathrooms- western and squats. In my school’s case, I can only think to reason that they didn’t want elementary students to waste paper or make a mess with them. But then again… the teacher’s bathroom lacked them too.

  7. tunimaal says:

    Hey we have the same stuff here in Japan…Those toilets are same as the Turkish toilets but you have to do your buisness while watching it leaving….

    • @tunimaal: Japan too?! I thought they definitely had western toilets! Well, I’m glad I’m getting better at these things. Japan and Turkey are one my travel list!

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