Lisa’s Close Encounter with a Crazy Korean Toilet

October 3, 2008 at 3:23 am (Uncategorized)

So we’ve all heard stories about the amazing feats of technology that the Asian companies have pumped into their toliet seats, most hilariously parodied by the Simpsons when they visit Japan.  Every department store here has a section solely devoted to new-fangled toilet seats that provide the ultimate in comfort and the latest gadgets to make your experience that much more enjoyable.  I had my first (and likely not last) encounter with one such toilet seat last night at a restaurant in Nowon called VIPS ( 

We had just returned from our school trip to Everland, so I decided to go to the ladies’ room before eating to freshen up.  I entered the stall and was greeted by a massive contraption that had a full panel of buttons, several levers on the side and even a little kiddie toilet seat attached to the back.  Needless to say, I was a little intimidated.  Fast forward about a minute or so, and I’m now trying to figure out how to flush the toilet.  Oh god, what I would have given for just a simple lever on top of the tank, but it wasn’t so.  All of the buttons on the control panel were obviously in Korean, so I was relegated to pushing them all to figure out what would happen.  I could sense this wasn’t going to end well, but what choice did I have?

The first button I tried changed the number on a digital screen from 1 to 2, but did nothing else.  Button number two did absolutely nothing.  I was getting a little desperate.  There was a button that showed water, so, hoping and praying that water meant flush, I pressed it.  Well wouldn’t you know it, the water button activated the bidet.  I happened to be facing the toilet at this point, and the water shot out full blast into my face.  I screamed and tried to shield myself from the insanely strong water flow, which only deflected it onto my arms, my shirt and onto the walls around me.  I blindly reached down and pressed the button beside the bidet option, but this one turned on the fan inside the toilet bowl- effectively blowing the already spraying water everywhere. 

Panicking, I tried to close the lid, hoping that that would deactivate the bidet, but no, instead it began to flood the floor.  Oh my god, what had I gotten myself into?!?  Luckily the button below the one for the bidet stopped both the water and the fan, so I could at least figure out what to do next.  I dried my face and arms off, and looked down to find my shirt completely soaked. 

I was running out of buttons to try, so I pushed the red one at the back, hoping and praying that red meant flush.  But no, the red button is actually to call for help, and within a minute I had restaurant staff in the washroom trying to figure out what was wrong.  Luckily right before the staff invaded the stall I looked around the back of the toilet and found a small silver lever which (miracle of miracles) actually flushed the toilet.  I exited the stall as two staff members came in armed with walkie-talkies, who probably thought they’d find an old lady who had gotten stuck on the toilet or something, only to find a stupid white girl soaked to her skin standing there looking awfully sheepish.  I slunk out of the washroom feeling like the world’s biggest idiot, and returned to our table completely soaked, demoralized, and laughing hysterically. 

The moral of this story?  Don’t even think about trying the buttons.  Buttons will only cause you trouble.



  1. Freaky Deaky Lesley said,

    THIS POST…made my day.

  2. Bharati Belmore said,

    Wow I never had that experience while I was there. Glad you finally found the one to flush the toilet. Have you tried the lovely eastern toilet they have there, some places call them the Eastern bowl, but a friend of mine and I use to joke and call it the Eastern hole. That is an adventure too.

  3. Sarah said,

    This post is very funny, but I’m sorry of what happened. Here in Korea, the water is to clean your butt after you do your buisness, and the fan is to dry the water. When I went to America to study English, there wasn’t anything like that, so I can understand how suprised you were.

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