[DAYTRIP] Perfect Destination For Solo Travel, Gangneung
Gangneung is famous for Jungang Market and Anmok Beach. We embark on a recuperation trip to Gangneung where we can look back on ourselves as we knead clay and press the shutters.
Gangneung in Gangwon Province is considered a great domestic destination to travel alone. It is relatively more accessible when you want to leave the busy city life behind for a break. Besides, the entire area is surrounded by seemingly-endless scenic driving routes along the East Sea and majestic mountain ranges.

To discuss the benefits of ‘traveling solo’ more thoroughly and spontaneously, we have planned a day trip to Gangneung. The all-day itinerary starts from LOTTE RESORT SOKCHO that stands right next to the wavy seas of Gangwon Province. To make your solo trip more memorable, make a promise to yourself that you will be nice and kind to yourself and that you will start an earnest conversation with your inner soul. Gangneung offers an abundance of nature and experiences to replenish your mind and body if you are ready to accept them.
[10:00 AM] Dealing With a Film Camera, Sikmulwon
Let’s have a delicious breakfast at LOTTE RESORT SOKCHO and head down to Gangneung’s Myeongju-dong as early as possible. Enjoy the peaceful sea view as you drive down Donghae-daero. Myeongju-dong is the old downtown of Gangneung, recently seeing the rising influx of young artists and opening of their spaces. As you walk around streets, you will naturally run into spots where the past and present are mingling in an unexpected, yet intriguing way.

For example, ‘Sikmulwon’ is not the place you’d think in a literal sense(‘botanical garden’ in Korean). Although it does not have a single plant pot inside, it is a place frequented by film camera aficionados. The place began as a studio belonging to Gangneung-based photographers Na Sohee and Won Jiyu. After the launch, the studio gradually became an ad-hoc workroom for photographers or artists who were in need of a darkroom. It is also used as a hangout spot by creators active in Gangneung’s local scenes when they are planning fun projects, together or individually,  Photographers Na and Won hold photography classes for beginners who want to learn how to use film cameras and reuse disposable cameras. How about recording this Gangneung trip with a black-and-white film camera? Not good enough or at a professional level, yet? Even then you will still feel the sense of liberation and excitement learning something entirely new.

At Sikmulwon, the annual travel project ‘ENSpired Trip’ is held in collaboration with local women creators in Gangneung. If you are traveling alone, it is an event worth checking out. The program encourages solo travelers to team up with others to form a three-to-four member group to participate in diverse art programs, including taking photos together or watching cinema. According to Won, those who take part in ENSpired Trip often end up becoming friends sharing the most personal stories that you couldn’t even bring up to the closest friends. It will be a memorable experience to build new relationships via the medium of art in Gangneung.
Address 2F, Myeongju-ro 9-1, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do
Hours Thu-Fri 16:00-20:00, Sat & Sun 10:00-17:00
[11:00 AM] Pleasure of Solo Drinking in the Daytime, ONW
In a 5-minute walking distance from Sikmulwon, there is a cafe and wine bar called ONW, the facade of which draws people’s attention. Usually pronounced as ‘Onyuwol,’ it also means ‘Oh New World’ in English. A new world! The witty name may be your magic spell to get you to some place fun and exciting. The ONW building was renovated from a traditional hanok. As you arrive in the vicinity, the quiet atmosphere around the old structure overwhelms you. When you step inside, the original girder and rafters create a vintage vibe, combined with the antique-style folding screen or carpet decorating the space.

ONW consists of two buildings: one is the cafe, and the other the wine bar and bottle shop. The signature menu of the cafe includes Cafe Latte and Crumble Cake. Using local fresh ingredients such as homegrown corn, the cake is known for its crispy crumble texture. If you want to have something with a bit of alcoholic content, you can ask for wine recommendations at the bar in the other building. Keep in mind that there is a one-person table seat with the best view. Sitting in a comfy chair, sipping fragrant natural wine under the sunshine, you will pat yourself on the back for choosing to travel solo.

The wine bar also presents wine selection to pair with local delicacies of Gangneung. You are even allowed to bring in outside food in packaging, such as cockle bibimbap and dak gangjeong(sweet and sour chicken), to enjoy with your wine. Feeling too shy to drink by yourself? You can buy wine by the bottle at ONW, meaning you can take it to the place of your evening alone time. Travel usually goes hand in hand with good drinks, and when the combo is perfectly set up, you can have a truly romantic trip by yourself.
Address Nammun-gil 9, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do
Hours Daily 10:00-22:00, Closed on Wednesdays
[2:00 PM] Memory of Gangneung Made of Clay, San Soul Pottery Studio
People often feel frustrated when they can’t remember certain trips and fascinating scenes they’ve experienced despite the large volume of photos and videos they took. If you’ve experienced the same emotion, how about having a handmade clay pot from Gangneung as a medium to jog your memory? It will be your daily item to touch and use, helping you keep the memories of Gangneung alive and fresh for a long time. San Soul is a pottery studio and showroom owned by pottery artist Kang Soyul. Born and bred in Myeongju-dong, Gangneung, Kang came back to hometown after studying art and pottery elsewhere, and has since been running the studio for three years.

Her one-day classes receive positive responses by participants. She gives instructions to help them make their own pottery accessories. Focusing on molding shapes with clay for two hours while letting your creative juice flow, you will experience the amazing magic through which your complex mind becomes smooth and calm, just like the surface you’ve been working on. Your finished clay art will be put through the first coating process as well as other necessary finishing touches, and finally delivered to your address in two weeks. Class participants like the idea of delayed delivery because it allows them a chance to relive the moments they enjoyed in Gangneung later again.

If you don’t have much time to make clay pots yourself, you can simply buy accessories like incense and candle holders that the artist made using her imagination of the underwater world of the Gangneung sea. The one-day class is popular among solo travelers in particular. For them, the Gangneung-native artist recommends visiting a trail in the pine grove connecting Anmok Beach to Gangmun Beach, an authentic Gangneung experience. So why don’t you try taking the class at San Soul studio and spend the remaining time in Gangneung walking down the beach among pine trees?
Address Unit #2, Imyeong-ro, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do
Hours Daily 12:00-18:00, Closed on Tuesdays
[4:00 PM] Cinema as a Comma, East Cine
The last stop in Gangneung is East Cine Books located at Jeongdongjin. If you follow the yellow sign emitting warm glow, while embracing the harsh coastal winter weather, you will soon face an unexpected scene that cannot exist in ordinary beaches. A cinema. By the time your eye adjusts to the dark interior of the building, you can see red-covered seats and the screen. In the corner is a small ticket booth, also selling popcorn. Oh Seung-hee, who used to run a bookshop in Seoul, settled in Gangneung for a new life away from Seoul. She used to travel to Gangneung to attend Jeongdongjin Independent Film Festival and visit Shinyoung Geukjang. Thanks to her years-long solo travel experiences, Oh had enough inspiration to apply to the interior design of East Cine Books.

You can enjoy yummy vegan bread and beverages like coffee at East Cine. You can also buy and read books from the theater’s own curated selection including the original stories that were adapted to films, essays and critical reviews written by women filmmakers. There are often chances to check out East Cine’s own productions. Advance booking is available for those who want to view those films. At the cinema-related workshop offered by East Cine, you can learn from the conversations with people offering diverse perspectives on movies and reflect on yourself.

In general, the variety of events and programs at East Cine all appear to point to the concept of ‘rest.’ East Cine cherishes the idea of rest given to the audience of their films and books. Naturally, the interior of the theater is full of signs showing its intention to be a comma-like stop for travelers coming to see the ocean by themselves.
Address Heonhwa-ro 973, Gangdong-myeon, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do
Hours Daily 07:30-11:00, 13:00-17:00, Closed on Tue & Wed
[7:00 PM] Most Breathtaking Sea View in Sokcho, LOTTE RESORT SOKCHO
Having seen various corners of downtown Gangneung, it is time to return to the night sea of Sokcho, one of the greatest attractions of Gangwon Province. Located on Oeongchi Hill surrounded by the seas on three sides, all guest rooms offer panoramic ocean views.

How about pairing the wine you picked up at ONW with LOTTE RESORT SOKCHO’s room service? If necessary, check out the R.9UP bar at the hotel. The bar serves various craft beers that are popular among beer fans, such as Artmonster, Gangneung’s Beodnamu Brewery, and Sokcho’s Craft Root. Listening to the vinyl records thoughtfully selected by the bar and gulping down the tasty beer, you can wrap up your day trip to Gangneung in the perfect way.
Address Daepohang-gil 186, Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do
Inquiry 1588-4355
February 2023 Editor:Lee Youngju
Writer:Baek Kakyung
Photographer:Oh Seonghyeon

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  • February 2023
  • Editor: Lee Youngju
    Writer: Baek Kakyung
  • Photographer: Oh Seonghyeon
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