Gangneung was the home to Yulgok (also known as Yi Yi), one of the most famous Korean scholars in history,
credited with being a literary genius and wise advisor to the King, who foresaw the Japanese invasion during
the Joseon Dynasty. He and his (perhaps) more famous mother, Sinsaimdang, are celebrated in the city at
‘Ojukeon’ (오죽헌) and at the Sinsaimdang Cultural School. Ojukeon is so-called because of the black bamboo
that surrounds it. The original home of Yi Yi and his mother, you can walk the large grounds, admire the
imposing statue of the scholar pondering some great mystery, pay respects at the shrine, stand in front of a
900 year old tree, and see the house where he was born, where he studied and where he became the model son,
taught, of course, by the quintessential timeless mother-figure, Sinsaimdang. At the Sinsaimdang Cultural
School, you can learn the traditional ways of etiquette, how to take part in the Korean Tea Ceremony, and
archery. If you’re still wondering who these people are, you can consult Google…or just look at a 5,000 won
bill for Yi Yi’s face, and at a 50,000 won note for his mother. From Gangneung Express Bus Terminal, take
city bus No. 202 or 303 and get off at Ojukheon (15 min ride).
Gyeongpo Beach (경 포 대)
No day would be complete without a cycle out to Gyeongpo Beach (경 포 대). Voted in the top three
beaches of the Korean Peninsula, the beach and lake combined are simply fantastic. It is said that you
can see the moon five times here, in the sky, the sea, the lake, in your glass, and in the eyes of your
lover. Romantic as Koreans are, Gyeongpo Beach has become the place to go for love. It is famous
countrywide for its blossoms, when the entire lake is surrounded by pink. All the way around its 5km
promenade you can find places to relax, enjoy strange sculptures depicting the life of Hong Gil-Dong
(the Korean Robin Hood), hire bikes and 4-wheeled contraptions, and photograph the enormous amount of
bird-life that inhabits the lake and adjoining marshy wildlife reserve and migratory bird sanctuary.
Everything goes crazy in the Summer months when the beach is invaded by guys and girls from Seoul,
with a plan to use the beach as a catwalk. It officially ‘opens’ on July 1st, which basically means
that the beach is full of umbrellas, basketball courts, fireworks, with showers etc, but the sea is
closed. Lifeguards sit at 50meter intervals to stop anyone getting too wet. Safety doesn’t quite
describe it. But if you want to get a jet-ski, powerboat, banana boat, or a big yellow rubber dingy,
-the sea is yours! Come to Gyeongpo Beach in the early summer or autumn when it’s not busy, unless you
like it that way. Jumunjin Beach is a good alternative for a calm spot.
Birth Place of Heo Nanseolheon
There is also the birth place of Heo Nanseolheon, a famous Korean poet of 17th century and Seongyojang
(bus #202), a 19th century complex of excellently preserved traditional buildings, as well as numerous
shrines, an ancient bell, temples, and pagodas all around the lake close to the city centre.
Jeongdongjin Sunrise Park
Jeongdongjin Sunrise Park is where the New Year begins, with everyone coming to welcome the first
rays of the new sun (bus no.112, 109). Close to there you will find a North Korean spy submarine and
next to it, well placed for dramatic effect, is a retired South Korean war-ship (formerly of the US
Navy). In the shadow of the enormous battleship you can go inside the submarine. More than 10 years
ago now, North Korean spies infiltrated Gangneung by sea (and by accident, crashed) leading to a
manhunt, some civilian casualties, and the annihilation of the North Koreans. Cramped and sinister,
exploring the sub is an experience, it’s a tight squeeze for a couple of people, and there were more
than 20 men crammed into that tin can.
More history? You like museums? Daegwallyeong Museum has more than 1000 pieces of agricultural
relics, and the Charmsori Gramophone & Edison Science Museum (strange I know) has an amazing collection
of rare, and sometimes, bullet-ridden gramophones from around the world and various scientific
paraphernalia. In fact it is the single largest gramophone museum in the world complete with a
battery car invented by Edison and more phonographs than you could shake a stick at! So on a rainy
day there’s somewhere to go. Take a bus no. 202 for Gyeongpodorip Park(comes every 20 minutes, 20
minutes ride) and take off at Gyeongpodae Station. You will find the Charmsori Musuem right in front
of you. If you take a taxi, it takes about 10 minutes. For the Daegwallyeong Museum, take a local
bus at Gangneung Bus Terminal for Eoheul-ri (bus 503) or a taxi. It takes about 25 minutes.
Odaesan National Park
It’s probably not possible, but if one has enough of the deep blue sea you can head up into the
mountains. Odaesan National Park is the best option for spectacular views, breathtaking peaks
shrouded in fog, and well…you can still see the sea from the top.
Sogeumgang Valley is on the east side of Mt. Odaesan, it is also called Cheonghak Dongsogeum, so
named by Yi Yi as it resembles a crane spreading its wings. At the top of the mountain stands the
remains of Amisanseong (or Geumgangsanseong fortress), said to have been built by Mauitaeja (Silla
56th King, reign 927~935) a thousand years ago. Serene temples and shrines dot the mountainside,
creating a deep resounding tranquility here. The mountain valley is a resource for ecology/biosphere
studies and home to the famous winter snow flowers. From Gangneung Station, take city bus No. 303 and
get off at Sogeumgang River (1 hour ride).
Gangneung Dano Festival (강릉단오제)
Gangneung is best known for the annual Dano Festival (강릉단오제) which begins in the early summer
(check near the time for details as it goes by the lunar calendar). It is usually held at the beginning
of the Summer. The festival carries the weighty titles of ‘Korean National Immaterial Cultural Heritage
No. 13’ and UNESCO "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity". Hundreds of tents
appear along both sides of the Namdae River selling everything from Traditional Korean Medicines to
Turkish handmade ice cream. The Gwanno Mask Dance (관 노감연극) is the most famous performance at Dano,
and it is only seen at this festival. You can watch and take part in traditional wrestling (시 름),
traditional swing games, and have a shamanist mudang write a prayer for you. Normally in Korea it is
very tricky to get to witness shamanist rituals, but at the Dano (often spelled Danoe, or Danoje) festival
they are all out in force, and happy to talk and be photographed. Although, this writer has a theory
(from experience) that they have some kind of force-field around them that makes it very close to
impossible to pull off a good shot! This year a whole roll of film (that should have had some keepers
from the ending ritual) came back mysteriously blank. You decide.
Gangneung Rock Festival
The Gangneung Rock Festival kicks off every summer, and is an awesome platform for young Korean
bands to get some exposure.
International Junior Arts Festival
The International Junior Arts Festival blows onto the beach every year too.
Gangneung Bus Terminal
East Seoul Bus Terminal (Gangbyeon Subway Station Line No.2) - Gangneung (3 hr. ride), comes every
30~50 minutes. The first bus is at 06:31, the last, 23:00.
Gangnam Express Bus Terminal (Subway Line No. 3, Exit 1) - Gangneung (3 hr. ride), comes every 15~30
minutes. The first bus is at 06:00, the last, 23:30.
The bus terminal is slightly out of the main downtown area. You can walk it in about 20 minutes or
so, or if it is your first time in Gangneung, hop in a taxi and ask for McDonalds (Mac-don-al-duh) –
they will understand that, and take you right into the centre of everything. If you want a hotel, you
can find a couple across the road which are reasonably priced.
Gangneung Train Station
Gangneung Train Station is the start of the Cheongnyangni(East Seoul) - Gangneung Train Line it
will take you 6 hours 40 minutes to get to Seoul and stops at many other towns in Gangwon-do along the
way. The train station is located to the North East of the centre of town.
Chodang Sundubu Village
For eating, south of Gyeongpo Beach (Chodang Sundubu Village) has some tofu specialists that have been proudly
making watery tofu (much more delicious than it sounds, trust me) for more than 400 years! Could be pricey though
so watch out! There are way too many great eating houses to name in both downtown and Tekji… so get exploring.
If you want Western chains, head downtown….
'Princess' cafe is located near to Warehouse bar, in one of the streets behind it. It serves awesome milkshakes,
and offers the 'Dr Fish' service free when you are eating there. For those of you not in the know, Dr Fish is a
popular treatment where you submerge your feet in a pool full of tiny fish which eat away at your dead skin cells,
and is particularly helpful for those who suffer from psoriasis or eczema.
Opposite Princess, there is a cafe which serves 'all you can eat' food for just 6,000 won!
‘Warehouse’ is probably the most popular Western hangout – a quirky little bar with graffiti all over the
walls, a pool table, table football and some good cocktails. Head to the little street behind the main road in
downtown (on the opposite side of the road from McDonalds). You can’t miss it – it’s full of restaurants and bars.
Warehouse is down one of the little sidestreets, at the end of the road which is nearer to the big Homeplus store.
It’s on the second floor of it’s building – if you get stuck, ask any Westerner you see!
Another bar in Gangneung is called 'Bumpin', and is a really small cottage type bar with an intimate atmosphere.
They often have live music, and you can also request your favourite tunes. They serve great cocktails too. From the
main street (where McDonalds is), you need to turn right to find this place.
Gangneung has plenty of facilities, and you will struggle not to find anything you are looking for.
Options range from the amazing clothes shops, to the big Homeplus store (Tesco – for any UK readers!),
down to small markets, street stalls etc. You don’t have to look very hard for the shops – just head
downtown in a taxi and ask for Mcdonalds! Alternatively, you can walk into town – follow the road signs
towards City Hall.
There is a good market in Gangneung – located behind the main high street. It is a typical Korean
market selling all sorts of foods and other goods, but is a little bigger than many of the markets you
will find in smaller towns. Gangneung is also famous for it’s fish market, which is located underground,
below the main market. Here you can buy any type of fresh seafood you can imagine – and sample some live
octopus if you dare!! Or simply wander around and marvel at the selection.
There is a movie theatre in Gangneung, on the top floor of the big Homeplus building (at the
bottom of the main street downtown). They have a good choice of films in both English and Korean. There
are also lots of food places on that floor too – including an Irish potato place with yummy ‘chips’
(chunky fries with all different sauces); a coffee shop with great smoothies (still sometimes a rarity in
Korea); a Baskin Robbins; Kraze Burger (slightly expensive, but AWESOME!!!); and a couple of others.
We do not currently have any information on Excercise in Gangneung.
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