Published: March 5th 2012November 15th 2011
Warning: This blog contains images, descriptions and a video of oversized stone, wood and fibreglass male genitalia, and is laced with words conveying double meanings (literal and sexual). If this is likely to cause offence, then please do not read.
The world is filled with bizarre places and practices which demonstrate that truth is indeed stranger than fiction. But few are more peculiar than Haesindang Park in the fishing port of Sinnam on South Korea’s east coast, whose fame (or should that be infamy) is attributed to a local legend.
Many years ago a young maiden called Aebawi was married to a local fisherman. One day prior to a fishing excursion, he placed his wife on some rocks, promising to return. However, the weather dramatically changed and a storm rapidly brooded and erupted, and despite the hurried return of the husband, Aebawi was swept from the rocks unto her death. As a result of Aebawi’s premature demise, her supposedly virginal soul remained so disquieted that it caused the fish to leave the area and seek less distressed waters.
Sometime afterwards, another fisherman undeterred by the devastation Aebawi’s spirit had caused the local marine life, was fishing
from the rocks and needed to answer nature’s call. Not wanting to leave his line, he dropped his pants and relieved himself. This action had an unintended and positive consequence, for the sight of the angler’s organ so excited and pleased Aebawi’s spirit that the fish returned to the now calmer waters.
So if the brief appearance of a man’s family jewels had such an effect, it was reasoned that a park full of phallic statues will ensure a continued and bountiful harvest, and thus Haesindang Park, or what is more commonly known as Penis Park, was born. Today at Sinnam, lines of sexual sculptures sit above the harbour on a wooded hill, with many being erected during the Penis Sculpture Festival, now defunct due to the offended sensibilities of certain members of the populace.
My interest in Haesindang Park was aroused many months prior, when my friend Fi forwarded me the blog of an acquaintance who visited the Park during his journeys through Korea. Upon seeing the photographs, I longed to sight these unusual treasures with my own eyes. After months of waiting, the much anticipated day arrived, and Fi, whose innocent email stimulated my errant fascination,
joined me on the journey. My excitement swelled as we neared Haesindang Park, and upon exiting the Motorway and travelling along a narrower local road, I gazed right and saw a bright red lighthouse and knew that the goal was finally at hand.
I drove down a winding street to the harbour of Sinnam whose shops and ships in and around the harbour belie nothing unusual, but not so when one gazes at the lighthouse – for its peculiar rounding presented an unmistakeable appearance. I proceeded through the arch at the Park’s entrance and heading in, mounted the roughly hewn steps to a surprisingly pleasant wooded area. The path divided, one trail terminated at a shrine devoted to Aebawi, and the other lead to the bottom of a hill where all manner of penile-shaped objects awaited.
Stairs on either side of the incline bordered a collection of carvings that glistened in the bright sun. There were seats and benches with some manner of the male appendage cleverly worked into their design, and a massive moveable black rod that bobbed up and down with an almost hypnotic motion. Further up, statues of steel-blue humanoids endowed with unnaturally large genitals
lined the stairway. One section overlooking the lighthouse was akin to entering a forest of phalluses, for dozens of carvings several metres high arose from everywhere. Some were tastefully created with cleverly intricate designs, but other less sophisticated examples appeared to be fashioned for shock value.
For the initial part of the visit, we were the only people here, but later, I saw a family of three generations of women walking through the Park; imagine the discussion at the dinner table that evening when husband and wife recount their activities during the day. Large tour groups also arrived and it was filled with a gaggle of giggling and blushing elderly women (mostly) and men – many appeared embarrassed as they averted their eyes from the offending objects and hurried along, whilst others laughed openly, pointed and took photographs. A male teenager accompanying one group eagerly offered to pose at the aforementioned moving black rod.
The ridge of the hill was densely wooded, ornamented with more trees than sculptures, and this area felt slightly adventuresome. Since I was wearing my Indiana Jones fedora, I wondered whether Haesindang Park could be the base for any future Indiana Jones movie, as
there are plenty of relics here for a rollicking tale, though it is highly doubtful Mr Lucas would favour such a salacious angle to the franchise.
A short walk from the wooded area exposed another concentration of curious constructions. One slightly disturbing exhibit was a realistic carving of small white dogs seemingly admiring their masters’ manhood. Thankfully, more tasteful offerings resumed on the other side of the roadway, where the climax of any Park visit is located. Arranged in a semi-circle stood twelve statues of the Chinese zodiac depicted in a manner never seen before or since, for each was sheathed by a delightful stone male appendage. Neighbouring this arrangement was a delicate bronze statue of Aebawi, arms aloft as if knowing she was departing from her beloved husband for the final time. Standing behind the statue allowed me to follow her gaze upon the glorious blue waters fronting Sinnam, and on this finest of days, it was a sublime sight.
There were many lesser visited areas of the Park, including a tranquil pond of flaccid reeds surrounded by shrubs and fronted by two statues whose shape can be easily deduced. The Park is larger than initial appearances,
and the more one probes, the more is revealed; but after tirelessly examining so many carved phalluses, my curiosity started to sag. Weary of walking, I limped along the many stairs and returned to the car, thus bringing my satisfying stop at Haesindang Park to a conclusion. I’m glad I came.
There are more photos below