The vast-open East Sea shining cobalt blue, a tranquil lake, and Seoraksan Mountain with a jaw-dropping view; these are just some of the many charms Sokcho boasts throughout the year. Plus, the delicacies presented by the Sokcho Central Market are enticing more gourmet travelers to Sokcho today. The book <Winter in Sokcho (Book Recipe)> even chose the sophisticated feeling of cities that stands on the border of thrilling excitement and sentimental recollection for its background. Now, let’s dive into Sokcho, a place whose name makes you want to take to the road.
<Winter in Sokcho>
Sokcho Tour, Fisheries Market (Jungang Market), an emerging shrine for gourmet travelers
Sokcho Tour, Fisheries Market (Jungang Market)
Inside the Sokcho Tour, Fisheries Market (left), specialty of Sokcho, Squid Sundae (right)
Even though they say the number of tourists has dropped due to COVID-19, the most vibrant place in Sokcho is still the Sokcho Tour, Fisheries Market. The moment you enter the market, delicate seasonal squid, steamed crab, fried sweet and sour chicken, and all the tasty food starts making your mouth water from the magnificent smells and sounds. As Sokcho was raised to the status of a city in 1963, the market used to be called Sokcho Jungang Market following its administrative name, but through the project in 2006 to revitalize the market, it became what it is known today as the Sokcho Tour, Fisheries Market. Ever since then, the market has become one of the must-visited places in Sokcho, while being designated as a top 10 tourist market in Korea with fresh seafood and quality services. You will easily come across North Korean food in the market such as Squid Sundae; this is because displaced people from North Korea failed to return to their country after the truce and settled in the area.
* Sokcho Tour, Fisheries Market: http://sokcho-central.co.kr, +82-33-633-3501
Chilsungboatyard Salon, a live history archive of Sokcho
Exterior of Chilsungboatyard Salon (left), the exhibition room (right)
Views of Chilsungboatyard Salon
When you walk along Chungchoho Lake that connects the river and the ocean, you will be able to meet “Chilsungboatyard Salon” next to the shore. The place, which ran for 65 years from 1952 to August 2017, was one of the two boatyards left in Sokcho. However, it had no option but to close as the materials for ship-building changed, and demand for wooden ships fell with time. Today, the area has turned into “Chilsungboatyard Salon”, a cultural complex embedding the rich history of Sokcho, by Choi Yoon-Sung, the third generation of the family. A place that used to be a boatyard for building ships was reborn into a cafe, a “book salon”, and an exhibition hall treasuring the history of Sokcho today. Even though the style has changed, “Chilsungboatyard Salon” still walks together with the Sokcho history.
* Chilsungboatyard salon: https://instagram.com/chilsungboatyard?igshid=1ne3gd169de3x, +82-33-633-2309
Moonwoodang Bookshop, a space for books and people
Views of Moonwoodang Bookshop
Moonwoodang Bookshop is the biggest bookstore in Sokcho, celebrating its 37th anniversary of establishment this year (opened in 1984). The bookstore is slightly different from typical bookstores that merely sell books, as it works as a cultural complex where it introduces books and talks about the culture connecting them with people. Once you take the first step into the bookstore, you will be able to see how much love and sincerity were put into the bookstore as you browse the antique interior. You will also find guidelines for visitors, including those about magnifying glass for the elderly and a guide for first-comers to Moonwoodang Bookshop. Take time and look around the bookstore, and you will soon feel the warmth inside your heart.
Moonwoodang Bookshop began selling independent publications 3 years ago. It was perfect timing. The demand for independent publications rose, and writers who have come as travelers suggested selling their books in almost the same period. This has led Moonwoodang Bookshop to sell works of about 250 writers up to date. Meanwhile, everyone takes their first step. High-quality, independent publications have difficulties with promotion. This is why the staff at Moonwoodang Bookshop write a memo of recommendation and hang a good description from books on the lights. You will be able to sense the philosophy of the owner that fine books need to be shared.
* Moonwoodang Bookshop: https://moonwoodang.com, +82-33-635-8055
Donga Bookstore, a mirror of Sokcho
Views of Donga Bookstore
Donga Bookstore is a unique location, where a majority of visitors come with kids. Some visitors sit together and read a book to their kid, and some purchase books that mainly feature Sokcho. The one common point they shared was that they looked so comfortable as if they were at home. Donga Bookstore, established under a philosophy that a healthy place is where people from all corners of life regardless of generation, age, and status can come together, attracts customers with its extraordinary comfortable atmosphere like home. Opened in 1956 with the name “Donga Stationery” the shop used to sell stationery and a few magazines, journals, and reference books, Donga Bookstore changed its name and became what it is today in 1966.
Kim Young-Gun, the third owner of Donga Bookstore, has been preparing a variety of content with the theme of Sokcho or bookstores while maintaining its identity as a general bookstore. The book <I am a Ship Carpenter in Sokcho (Books On Wednesday)> is his flagship work, which contains interviews he had with two ship carpenters (rare to find today) in Sokcho. For tips to maximize the fun in Donga Bookstore, Kim suggested reading old books displayed near the entrance, early pictures of Donga Bookstore, and books related to Sokcho. Just follow his tips, and you will be able to meet not only yesterday and today of Donga Bookstore but also the past days of Sokcho.
<I am a Ship Carpenter in Sokcho>
* Donga Bookstore: https://www.instagram.com/accounts/login/?next=/bookstoredonga/, +82-33-632-1555
Perfectdays: Leave Your Worries Here, We’ll Take Care of Them
Views of Perfectdays
Perfectdays, with its name derived from <Long Life> by Mary Oliver, is 3 minutes away from the Intercity Bus Terminal on foot. The first floor is used as the bookstore, and the second floor is open for visitors as a guest house to lay their body and relax. The owner of Perfectdays, Choe Se-Yeon says that she chose the spot close to the terminal where visitors first set their foot as she wanted them to take a step out of their daily life, have a cup of tea, and get enough relaxation. This makes Perfectdays a “comfortable book place for relaxation” more than just a bookstore or a guest house.
Brochure of an original picture exhibition <The Pony and I> (left) and the exhibition (right)
Perfectdays chooses liberal arts book that discuss social issues. The topic may not seem to go well with the bookstore’s theme of “relaxation,” but who knew? It makes a perfect blend, as it helps readers to work out an answer for difficult problems in life while relaxing. The bookstore provides an optimal environment for readers to calmly have sufficient time thinking. It also becomes an entertaining cultural space for residents of Sokcho and tourists by hosting book talks with authors, lectures, performances, and exhibitions once or twice a month.
* Perfectdays: https://blog.naver.com/perfectdays_sokcho, +82-33-947-2319
Written by Lee Ji-Hyun