Korean U-bend Over Backward

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South Korea is gearing up for the World Cup by giving its toilets an urgent
Officials are thinking big about the smallest room, lavishing expensive decor
on lavatories and designing 'themed' toilets in a bid to win the title of
"Finest Rest Room in Seoul".
Korea's "outhouse experience" has long been panned by visiting
Westerners. But the country has now launched the Rest Room movement and is
determined visitors will be bowled over by the standard of its lavatories during
World Cup 2002.
Art shows have even been thrown in lavs, and there is now a guided tour of
the city's top 50 conveniences.
One top toilet is said to have an "urbane image of high class",
with dressing tables, aromatic toilet paper and hair dryers. Another has an art
show, while a government-run loo is designed with a medieval theme and a
"castle motif" .
Plants, colored lighting, ultra-high ceilings, cigarette machines and heavy
steel ashtrays are becoming standard fittings in many conveniences.
Traditional Korean toilets are installed in the floor, requiring an awkward
squatting stance. They also proved too small for tall westerners.
The rest room movement was launched after criticism of its WCs during the
Seoul Olympics, reports the South
China Morning Post. Pyo Hae-ryung, president of the Citizens' Coalition for
Rest Room Culture, says: "The foreigners from the West feel very
uncomfortable about the bad state of bathrooms.
"Also the World Cup is coming to Korea and it would be embarrassing if
our rest rooms were of Third World quality. We are starting to make a major
impact on the public idea of a rest room."
Internet firms are also getting behind the movement. ClickCulture is offering
guided tours of the capital's most pristine toilets.

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