Ridiculous Street Signs #23: Don’t Step on the Toilet Seat- Seoul, South Korea

south korea

It’s been a while since I came across Ridiculous Street Signs while traveling. It was actually last Spring Break when Lucas and I took a trip to Poland. You can check the sign out here.

During our recent trip to South Korea, it didn’t take long to see what I’d definitely consider to be a good addition to my Ridiculous Street Signs collection.

After our flight landed at Seoul Incheon Airport, Lucas needed to visit the restroom.  When I closed the door to the stall, I came across this:

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(It actually reminded me of a sign that I had seen before on a previous trip.)

south korea

I pointed out the sign to Lucas and he thought it was pretty funny. He then asked why a person was standing on the toilet. I can’t say that I had a good answer to offer.

I’d love to know if enough people actually try to use the bathroom this way? If so, do enough people do this to make the airport need to put signs on bathroom stalls?

Either way,  just know in advance that in South Korea you are not supposed to step on the toilet seat!

Check out more of my Ridiculous Street Signs HERE.

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18 thoughts on “Ridiculous Street Signs #23: Don’t Step on the Toilet Seat- Seoul, South Korea

  1. Many older Koreans/Asians are used to squatting over a hole, depending on where they live. Can’t do that with a western toilet, since its elevated. Hence, the possible desire to do what the pic shows.

  2. you seriously dont know?
    Seoul has been getting a tremendous amount of visitors from China, where a squatting toilet dominates. Some folks will squat on top of a western style toilet because that is what they are comfortable with.

  3. Actually, there are many areas throughout Asia – including in Japan and South Korea – where the squat toilet is the norm and Western-style toilets uncommon. For those not familiar with a sit toilet, the most logical approach is to try squatting on the toilet seat. Additionally, in many areas the plumbing can’t handle toilet paper so it goes in a waste basket. You can see the results of this in many tourist spots in Europe that have seen big influxes of Chinese tourists. The ladies room at the Louvre was nasty – you don’t want to know what the waste baskets look like – and I saw signs in Rome rest rooms telling patrons they *should* put the paper in the toilet.

  4. If you’ve ever used a squatty potty, you would know exactly what that sign meant :).

    There is still a pretty large population of people in the world who grew up using squatty potties, and cannot be convinced that it is hygienic to sit on a toilet seat. They literally therefore will stand on the toilet seat, or on the toilet itself with the seat raised, in order to do what needs doing.

  5. Yes, this has become a problem in tourist areas in Korea since Chinese tourists have arrived en masse. Many aren’t familiar with sit-down toilets – they use in-ground toilets so stepping on top can make more sense to them. Unfortunately this can cause injuries when falling off (not to mention the mess), so the signs are necessary.

  6. It’s actually not at all ridiculous, especially for a part of the world where squat toilets are the norm. You are talking about an area where people may not know that they are not supposed to emulate the squatting used on most toilets in Asia. In fact, I believe you can still find squat toilets in the Seoul airport in various places.

  7. this is intended for people from third world countries like China and India that may not be familiar with modern first world toilets

  8. Yes. It’s actually common in Asia. People feel public toilets are dirty and since they are used to squatting, they just stand on the seat and squat to use it. I have friends who do that here in the US too.

  9. When we first started having a lot of H1Bs & B1s, similar signs were put in the restrooms. It’s likely that standing on the seat mimics a squat toilet. Additionally there were signs to not wash (their junk or backsides) in the sinks as that was disturbing some to see. Fortunately the signs have been down for years and everyone is well acclimated.

  10. In many places in Asia, even very modern countries like Japan and Korea, it is still common to use squat toilets. Since Incheon sees a lot of connecting traffic to and from other Asian cities, I won’t be surprised if some travellers have stepped on the toilet seat when a squat toilet is unavailable.

  11. In parts of Asia squat toilets are the norm. It is not weird that some travelers through the Seoul airport would be unfamiliar with the concept of sitting on a seat to “go”.

  12. Yes I do believe in parts of Asia it would not be unusual for people to use the restroom this way. If you’ve traveled in certain Asian countries (Taiwan comes to mind, among others), you’ll find “squat toilets” (google for photos to better detail this than I could describe) – so surely people from these parts of the world would need to be reminded not to keep their feet on the toilet.

  13. This is because in some cultures sitting on the toilet is not common. People stand or squat and actually manoeuvre themselves to do so when using a ‘western’ toilet. These signs are increasingly prevalent all over the world, particularly in restrooms for women.

  14. Thanks for all of the comments. I know what a squatter is and have used them in many countries. The thing is that if a person is flying on an airplane to an airport, I have to believe that they know how to use a “western” toilet. Do they also stand on toilet seats on the plane? I’m not sure that doing so would even be possible.

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