Sokcho Beach Camping, Or Adventures in Avoiding the Korean Military

posted in: Asia, Korea | 0

You know a destination is a great one when you can still fall in love with it even in the worst weather. With only a day and a half of sunshine over our five day weekend at the beginning of June, Sokcho became that place for us. There was just some thing about that long golden coast and those crashing waves that kept us smiling through the rain and clouds.

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Or maybe our love of camping has just reached an irrational high. I mean, camping in the rain is many peoples worst nightmare, but apparently not for us. Even in the rain, camping was the only way we wanted to experience the start of summer. And even after the Korean military had ‘almost’ forced us off the beach in Gangnueng…

You see, Sokcho is the largest town you hit before stepping into North Korea and was in fact part of the North before the war. Barbed wire and army lookouts mar the coast, on the lookout for defectors and spies, and they take a dislike to adventurous campers. But, if you pick the right spot, Sokcho is really quite a lovely little town, specifically around the Sokcho beach area.

And the one day we did have filled with sunshine? Glorious. I mean look at the colour of the ocean…

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Although the waves were still fun on an overcast day…

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The area has all the usual coastal town classics; a little strip full of seafood restaurants and shops selling water based toys, sea creature statues, and a lot of smiley people walking around! We even felt a little nostalgia for home, and if it weren’t for the hundreds of brightly coloured tents on the beach, sheltering the locals from the sun, we may have felt like we were on the south coast of England!

While on Sokcho beach itself we avoided annoying the army by staying in the lovely little campsite, next to the dome shaped pensions, just back from the beach. The place had more amenities than we could ever need and while we felt like we were cheating a little, it was such a great place to stay for a few nights. We could cook and eat at a picnic bench, there were fully stocked toilets and a shower room and we met some of the friendliest Koreans in Korea!

Seriously, it was almost a waste that we bought our own food considering how much we were given from our camping neighbours! One family in particular took a shine to us and we spent many hours with kids surrounding our every move, ‘helping’ us play cards and ‘hilariously’ tickling our feet with grass!

When you’re an expat, you take those feelings of community at any opportunity!

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However, not wanting to get too comfortable with charging outlets and toilet seats, we moved further up the coast the last few nights for some proper beach camping and managed to stay away from the watchful eyes of the authority.

After somewhat fruitless researching (google often proves useless in Korea..) we ended up on Dungdae Beach (등대해변) and managed to set up a camp and successfully stay there undisturbed for 3 glorious days.

We dug a firepit, we bought a frisbee and we settled into our new little life on that random beach in Korea very quickly. We cooked samgyeopsal BBQ, tried s’mores for the first time (!!!) and buried each other in the sand and splashed around in the sea. As it is a small beach, a little further away, and not quite as beautiful as Sokcho beach, we had the place to ourselves a lot of the time. We were certainly happy campers.

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So, if you are on the North East coast of Korea and looking to camp, Dungdae Beach is the place to go! Our three days there were some of the best we’ve had on our various wanderings around the country, and if this blog is anything to go by that is saying something!

Have you ever had dealings with local authority?? And which do you prefer, the creature comforts of a campsite or the ruggedness of the wild?

Update: Are you interested in taking your own wild journeys in Korea? Our Korea Journey Handbook is now available on the Kindle Store for only £2.58!

 

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