Saturday, August 19, 2006

Jeju Island: Part 2, Loveland

***Warning: this post is NOT work safe***

In Amsterdam, I wouldn't have batted an eye. California or New York? Not surprised a bit. But Korea? I am seriously still shocked.

On Jeju I couldn't believe how many random museums the island boasts, including an African Museum, a Chocolate Museum, a Cinema Museum, a Tangerine Museum, and Miniature Land. Wanting a more relaxing vacation and not having the slightest desire to see a midget Eiffel Tower or learn about Africa while in Korea, I decided to skip them all and head for the beach. Then at the beach one day I heard from some fellow travelers that I should stop by Loveland. They assured me I would not leave disappointed.

So my last Friday night on the island I made my way to Loveland and paid my 7,000 won admission to see what all the fuss was about. Holy penises! I was absolutely shocked that such a place could exist in this country! I thought I had stepped into the twilight zone. I mean this is Korea, where if I even have an accidental exposed strip of skin showing on my midriff, a random stranger (usually a well-intentioned ajumma) will tug my shirt down for me and cover up the offensive show of skin.

Penis-shaped arrows on the concrete sidewalk directed visitors on this outdoor tour of the flesh, which began with a statue of a naked woman on all fours in quite a provocative position. Young couples giggled as they shyly observed the several different and complex positions the exhibitionist statues were modeling for the usually conservative Korean people. Many were less shy though and went up to pose with the statues, grabbing an ass cheek or a breast with one hand and doing the obligatory peace sign with the other.

After walking past the giant tile-mosaic penis (how funny would that look in Miniature Land?), I went into the small museum of random sex-themed things. On the walls, there were around 20 color photographs of the same couple engaged in a series of different coital positions. An older man was getting within inches of each one, squinting his eyes and wrinkling his forehead, wearing an expression of both curiosity and amazement. I could almost hear him thinking, "Why didn't I ever think of that?" And then there was the peep show box, which featured a collage of Hustler-worthy photographs, that even I was embarrassed to be seen looking at. Moving on, I walked by glass cases full of vibrators, blow-up dolls, S & M paraphernalia and condoms.

As I walked back outside I saw a crowd gathering and lights and cameras being assembled and put into position. I asked someone nearby what was happening and was told there would be nude models coming out soon for a local artist to paint. "Very special event", someone told me, as they excitedly looked on. Sure enough, a few minutes later a masked man and woman walked out wearing white and black sheets respectively. Eventually, after several poses that left the models progressively exposed, they were both completely nude as the artist furiously painted on. He finished the show by painting a splash of black directly across their naked bodies.

As I left Loveland, I walked by several more statues doing unthinkable things and a car that rocked and emitted shouts of ecstasy every few seconds. I walked out into the Korea I know feeling strangely displaced.