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Does South Korea use squat toilets?


South Korea is known for its unique culture, technology, and cuisine. However, one aspect that often confuses foreigners is the country’s bathroom facilities. Specifically, the question of whether South Korea uses squat toilets or not has been a topic of discussion among travelers. In this article, we will explore the history, cultural significance, and usage of squat toilets in South Korea.

The History of Squat Toilets in South Korea

Squat toilets have been used in Asia for centuries, and South Korea is no exception. In fact, it is believed that squat toilets were the primary type of toilet used in the country until the 20th century. With the introduction of Western-style toilets during the Japanese colonial era, squat toilets gradually disappeared from public restrooms. However, they are still commonly found in traditional Korean homes and rural areas.

The Cultural Significance of Squat Toilets in South Korea

In Korean culture, cleanliness and hygiene are highly valued. It is believed that squatting over a toilet is more hygienic than sitting on a seat that may have germs or bacteria. Additionally, squat toilets are seen as more natural and healthier for the body as they promote better digestion and prevent constipation. For these reasons, some Koreans still prefer to use squat toilets over Western-style ones.

Types of Squat Toilets in South Korea

There are two main types of squat toilets in South Korea: traditional and modern. Traditional squat toilets are typically found in older buildings, public parks, and rural areas. They consist of a porcelain bowl set into the ground with footrests on either side. Modern squat toilets, on the other hand, are more common in newer buildings and are similar to Western-style toilets but without a seat.

How to Use a Squat Toilet

For those who have never used a squat toilet before, it can be a daunting experience. However, the process is relatively simple. First, remove your shoes and enter the stall. Position yourself over the bowl with your feet on the footrests and squat down. Remember to aim properly and use toilet paper to clean yourself afterward. It may take some practice, but once you get used to it, using a squat toilet can be just as comfortable as a Western-style one.

Squat Toilets in Public Restrooms

While squat toilets are still prevalent in South Korea, they are not as common in public restrooms in urban areas. Most modern buildings, such as shopping malls and office buildings, have Western-style toilets with seats. However, some public parks and tourist attractions still have squat toilets available.

The Pros and Cons of Squat Toilets

Like any other type of toilet, squat toilets have their advantages and disadvantages. Some of the pros include better hygiene, improved digestion, and no need for a seat that can harbor bacteria. On the other hand, some cons include difficulty for those with mobility issues or knee problems and the potential for splashing if not used correctly.

How to Choose between Squat Toilets and Western-Style Toilets

When traveling to South Korea, visitors may encounter both types of toilets. Choosing which one to use ultimately depends on personal preference and comfort level. Those who prefer squat toilets can seek them out in public parks or traditional Korean restaurants. For those who prefer Western-style toilets, they are widely available in most modern buildings.

The Future of Squat Toilets in South Korea

As South Korea continues to modernize, squat toilets may become less common in urban areas. However, they will likely still be found in traditional Korean homes and rural areas. Additionally, there may be a resurgence of interest in squat toilets as people become more health-conscious and environmentally aware.

Global Use of Squat Toilets

While squat toilets are most commonly found in Asia, they are also used in other parts of the world, such as the Middle East and Africa. Some travelers even prefer squat toilets over Western-style ones due to their perceived cleanliness and health benefits.


In conclusion, South Korea does use squat toilets, although they are not as prevalent in urban areas as they once were. Squat toilets have a long history and cultural significance in Korean society, and many Koreans still prefer them over Western-style toilets. Whether you choose to use a squat toilet or not ultimately comes down to personal preference, but it is worth trying at least once for the experience.

Are squat toilets common in Korea?

Before using a Korean bathroom, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Firstly, hand washing may be an awkward experience due to the setup of the sink. Secondly, squat toilets are present, although not very common, so they may come as a surprise.

Which countries use squat toilets?

Many Asian countries, such as China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Myanmar, Iran, and Iraq, use squat toilets as a common form of bathroom facilities. These types of toilets can also be found in nations like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Singapore.

Do South Koreans use bidet?

Toilets in Korea are well-known for their distinctive characteristics, including bidets and air drying capabilities. While often perceived as peculiar and intriguing, these toilets are widespread in South Korea, found in hotels and many homes.

Does South Korea use toilet paper or water?

In many Asian countries including China, Singapore, Thailand, Korea, and Taiwan, it is uncommon to find toilet paper readily available for purchase in stores. Instead, people of these cultures use water for personal hygiene. Some hotels may provide toilet paper for guests, but it is not a common practice.

Does Korea flush toilet paper?

In some Korean stalls, you might see trash cans next to them as a remnant of past practices. In older buildings, people are often advised not to flush toilet paper in public restrooms and instead dispose of it in the trash can located nearby. But there’s no need to be concerned.

Do Japanese homes have squat toilets?

The Japanese washiki toilet is a traditional type of toilet that involves squatting rather than sitting. This type of toilet is constructed differently and requires a different method of use compared to a sitting toilet. It appears similar to a small, horizontal urinal placed in the floor.

It is important to note that squatting over a toilet is not just a cultural practice in South Korea, but also a common position for defecation in many parts of the world. In fact, some health experts argue that squatting is the natural position for bowel movements and can help prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, and other digestive issues.

Despite the benefits of squat toilets, they may not be suitable for everyone. Elderly individuals or those with mobility issues may find it difficult to use a squat toilet, and they may be more prone to falls or accidents. Additionally, some people may simply find the position uncomfortable or unfamiliar.

As South Korea continues to modernize and become more globalized, it remains to be seen whether squat toilets will continue to be a part of the country’s culture and daily life. Nevertheless, they remain an important aspect of Korean heritage and a reminder of the country’s rich history and traditions.

In conclusion, whether you are a traveler visiting South Korea or a local resident, it is important to understand the history, cultural significance, and usage of squat toilets. While they may not be as prevalent as they once were, they are still an important part of Korean society and a unique aspect of the country’s cultural heritage.

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