Rodin’s Thinker is pondering even harder than usual as he sits astride a toilet at what has been dubbed the world’s first theme park dedicated to the humble restroom – a monument to one South Korean man’s vision.

The park, in the city of Suwon has attracted 40 000 visitors since it opened in July. It circles a toilet-shaped museum that was once the home of Sim Jae-duck, the founder of the World Toilet Association.

Exhibits at the park include Korean traditional squat toilets, European bedpans, and Marcel Duchamp’s sculpture Fountain, a porcelain urinal.

Legend has it that Sim, a former Suwon mayor who made his fortune selling metal products and was dubbed Mr Toilet, was born in his impoverished grandmother’s outhouse.

“He is a man whose life literally began in a toilet and ended at a commode-shaped house,” said Lee Yeun-sook, a manager at the “Mr Toilet Sim Jae-duck Foundation”.

Sim, who died in 2009 aged 70, shot to fame in South Korea when he provided loos for soccer fans when the country hosted the 2002 soccer World Cup. The body he founded has as its mission spreading the benefits of hygienic toilets, joining Singapore’s like-minded World Toilet Organisation.

Suwon has funded toilet building programmes in countries such as the Philippines. At home, toilet conditions have rapidly improved as South Korean living standards shot from poverty to riches in a generation. – Reuters