Mr Toilet House
You might say we at Island Bathrooms and Kitchens live all sorts of bathroom and kitchen furniture. But if you were to say we live toilets, you’d be giving us a crown we weren’t worthy of wearing. Not when you consider the legacy of South Korean Sim Jae-Duck, who lived in a house that looked like a toilet (giving us cause to rethink our own Holdenhurst showroom design).
Sim Jae-Duck, or Mr Toilet as he would eventually come to be known, actually entered this world in a bathroom. Owing to a Korean superstition that saw toilets as places of luck, Sim’s grandmother convinced his mother to bring the future Mr Toilet into the world just outside her bathroom door. From his very first moment he was born with toilets in his stars.
But this little fact had nothing (or very little) to do with the man later building his toilet house. His real interest in toilets started when South Korea was set to host the 2002 FIFA. As Mayor of Suwon, a satellite city to the capital, Seoul, his idea to prepare for this international event was to renovate all the public toilets in his city.
Image source. The FIFA World Cup in Seoul, 2002.
The project was such a resounding success that he dedicated the rest of his life to toilet sanitation. Jae-Duck eventually formed the KTA in 2002 (Korean Something Association, no prizes for guessing the T). Sim Jae-Duck threw himself at the task of breaking down toilet taboo, his logic being that without being able to talk about toilets in the open, little could be done to improve on them.
Image source. Suwon, where Sim Jae-Duck was mayor.
It was this idea that saw him knocking down his house in order to build the iconic toilet house. With English signs up outside declaring the place “Mr Toilet House”, the Korean signs opt for a more philosophical Haeujae, “A place of sanctuary where one can solve one’s worries.”
Sadly, Sim Jae-Duck lost a battle with prostate cancer and in 2009 passed away. At his request, his family donated the house to the city, and in 2010 Mr Toilet House, was reopened as a museum to all things toilet-related, eventually expanding to become Toilet Culture Park, a place offering everything from displays on how people have gone to the toilet throughout history, to toilet-related souvenirs.
Mr Toilet’s legacy lives on not only in the giant toilet he once called home (ranked 9 on Trip Advisor’s top picks for Suwon), but also in the perpetually immaculate state of Suwon’s public toilets. Still receiving plenty of public spending, Suwon has dubbed itself the Mecca of Toilet Culture.