How to use the toilet in Korea

Ten years in Korea and it still has not failed to surprise me. If you’re visiting Korea, be sure to know how to use the toilet properly ;p
Here’s a sign I saw beside a toilet in one of Seoul’s famous tourist spots. It is written in three languages: Korean, Japanese and English. It reads…

Can you guess which tourist spot's restroom can the sign be found?
Can you guess which tourist spot’s restroom can the sign be found?

1. You should put the used papers into the trashcan. Please do not put it into the toilet.
My comment: Like in the Philippines, but unlike in the USA, we do not throw toilet paper into the toilet. I know that’s icky but people claim doing so may clog the sewers.
2. After using the toilet, please close the lid and water.
My comment: Of course! This is necessary to minimize the germs that may explode into the air when flushing.
3. After using the toilet, please click the button tightly when watering.
My comment: There are some toilets that require a stronger push when flushing.
It it really necessary to post instructions on using the toilet? Maybe. How I wish there would also be signs on NOT shaking hands “violently” after washing because that makes the restroom floor wet and dirty.


  1. the first time i met my parents-in-law was in Feb 2012. I used the toilet to do #2 and put the toilet paper in the toilet bowl. The paper blocked the toilet bowl. I was so embarrassed! I used to just dump the paper in the toilet here in New Zealand. Now I can understand why some toilet papers in Korea are scented.

  2. I saw that in one like that in one of the subway station. my friend took a photo. we were laughing when we saw it.

  3. I have lived here for 18 years, and rule #1 makes me laugh. This is an old custom (still used in the Philippines also) which started when sewage systems were not as developed as they are now and toilet paper was not quickly absorbable. That has changed here in Korea, but old customs die hard. My asawa always wonders why I flush more than once when using her “comfort room”. I developed that habit early in life, and it almost NEVER fails to work. Most clogged toilets are the results of using too much toilet paper at the same time. Flush once in the middle…and once at the finish. Putting used paper in the trashcan next to the toilet is absolutely disgusting and not at all hygenic. I will be moving back to the Philippines soon. Guess what? There will be no trashcan next to our toilets. When questioned, my Asawa will explain how to “do things” to our female guests, and I will explain to our male guests. Of course, not everywhere in the world has modern facilities or sewage treatment systems…but simply putting a trashcan next to the toilet in those areas is not good enough! What is needed is a diaper pail! Hygenic, not open for flies, etc, and doesn’t have to be seen.

  4. Thanks for this post. I’ll be studying abroad in Korea in 2014 and I wouldn’t want to clog anything. My friends there say the septic system has been upgraded and they flush used paper in their homes regularly. I agree that the trashcan next to the toilet isn’t hygenic; perhaps they should consider something like a diaper genie:
    Just a thought and it’s much better than a trash can. Although I have a feeling the system is better now and if used properly (not too much paper at one time) won’t clog as much as people think it will.
    Thanks again for the info!

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