Forty minutes south of Samcheok City is the Haeshindang Park – the Penis Park – where dozens of sculpted phalluses stand erect in defiance of an old folk curse. The collection ranges from hanging arrangements to three-meter-tall trunks of wood, sculpted by Korean artists to showcase anything from joy, spirituality, to sexuality. The small Folk Museum attached showcases penis-related art throughout the ages, as well as the history of the small fishing community.
The Penis Park is tragic in origin. A young couple, madly in love and soon to be wed, is split by tragedy when the high tide overtakes the woman in view of her fiancé on the shore. The next day, the number of fish caught dwindled. The following day, they dried up. The townspeople were said to be cursed and wondered what to do, that is, until a local fisherman relieved himself in the sea. The fish returned and men of the town took note. To appease the spurned woman’s inability to consummate, the virile statues were erected and placed in view of the shore. (It is unclear of whether peeing into the sea also brings good luck…)
It is a casual, mostly uphill hike with lots of shade and penis-shaped benches to picnic on, as you listen to hikers, young and old, giggle hysterically and leave small naughty gifts at the temple to appease the desperate woman of the shore. For a culture somewhat uptight about sexuality, this is the park where open sexuality (or at least the phallus) stands triumphant.
Know Before You Go
From Samcheok: Take bus 24 to Sinnam (pronounced :Shinnom ). Tell the Driver HAE-SHIN-DONG and it should cost 1500 won. Takes 40 minutes, but be mindful of the large banners to know when to get off.