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South Korea's World Toilet Association races to rescue Cambodia

By: Bronwyn Sloan Posted: January-01-2006 in
Bronwyn Sloan

Cambodia's hoards of tourists marvel at its temples, but shudder after an encounter with its toilets, prompting a recent rescue mission by South Korean-based World Toilet Association (WTA), Tourism Minister Thong Khong said this week.

The minister said chairman of the WTA Assembly, legislator Sim Jae-Duck, had led a recent delegation to Cambodia and extended a warm invitation to the kingdom to join the WTAA meeting in South Korea in November and discuss accession to that body.

The WTA goes by the motto of 'Toilets for health! Toilets for life! Making it happen now'.

Jae-Duck, who revels in the nickname 'Mr Toilet', was quoted by Khmer-language newspaper Rasmei Kampuchea Tuesday as saying he had been drawn to Cambodia after being flooded by complaints from South Korean tourists about its lack of rest room facilities.

More than 200,000 South Koreans visit Cambodia each year - by far the largest number from any country - followed by the similarly toilet conscious nationalities of Japan and America, according to Tourism Ministry figures.

"The Toilet Association approached us about the problem and asked us to join. I think it would be great for Cambodia, but I cannot give them an answer yet without approval from Prime Minister Hun Sen," Thong Khong said by telephone.

"I believe it would be good for tourism," he added, conceding that most of Cambodia suffers from a dearth of quality toilets, and particularly tourist destinations including the Angkor Wat temple complex in the country's north. Many Cambodian toilets outside of the capital consist of little more than walled-in holes in the ground, and hand soap and toilet paper are considered luxuries at public facilities.

Khong said he was unsure yet whether WTA would donate toilets, adding that he would know more after the November assembly, which is expected to attract representatives from at least 20 countries.

"We have to help ourselves in this area as well. We have to ensure there are toilets and people to clean them," he said.

Jae-Duck's website says that World Health Organization figures show that more than a billion people worldwide lack adequate toilets, contributing to health and other social problems.

"Toilets are no longer a space for excretion only; they are becoming the central place in our daily lives where cleanness, relaxation, and aesthetics are important. Now, toilets have become the face of cities and countries," Jae-Duck says in his chairman's statement on the WTAA webpage.

More information about the WTA is available on its website at


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