From the three years or so I recently lived in Sydney Australia, my primary olfactory memory is of stale pee. At least twice a block, on my daily walk downtown from my apartment in Surrey Hills to my job at Town Hall, my tender nostrils would be assaulted by a cloud of piss-reek so terrifying, so staggering in its ability to claw its way up into your sinuses and perch giggling behind your eyeballs… well, let’s just say it was pretty damn whiffy. This stink would taunt me, mock me, appear and disappear willo-the-piss, then turn a corner and pow! there it would be again.
The odd thing, though, was that although there was an almost constant smell of downtown pee, I almost never saw anyone actually, well, doing it. A city of ghost-whizzers.
Here in Seoul, it’s almost impossible to walk down the street in the evening, particularly on a Friday or Saturday, without spotting two or three teetering drunks fumbling at their little weiners and tinkling on a wall or car or doorway or small child too slow to escape. One particularly enthusiastic gent a while back was on the subway platform at about 5 pm, canted at a 60 degree angle or so, pants around his knees, squeezing out a sadly unimpressive stream toward the opposite platform, where I was standing. It was difficult to tell for sure, but I was under the impression he was trying to hit me, and was frustrated that he was falling short by a good 50 feet or so.
But for all the determined urban micturation here, I almost never smell pee. It’s odd.
I have concluded as a result of this painstaking scientific study that the urine of Korean men does not smell. Your mileage may, as they say, vary.