This past weekend I decided to hit the beach and look at some gramophones in the coastal city of Gangneung. I had only been to Gangneung once before, and briefly to get the ferry to Ulleungdo. Gyeongpo is one of the most popular beaches in Korea, and from my understanding can get crowded in summer, but when I went (mid July) it wasn’t that crowded. It could partly be because the water was still very cold, so it wasn’t a good time for swimming. The beach is said to be the longest on the East coast, at 6 km, and it’s quite a bit bigger than Korea’s most visited beach, Busan’s Haeundae. Gyeongpo has plenty of seafood restaurants, motels, and convenience stores near the beach, but it isn’t nearly as commercialized as Haeundae, which is a huge tourist spot with it’s 5 star hotels, and several bars and restaurants behind the beach.
Before I relaxed on Gyeongpo beach, I headed to the Charmsori Gramophone and Edison Science Museum. Thomas Edison is probably America’s most famous inventor, but strangely enough the largest museum dedicated to gramophones — one of Edison’s most famous inventions — is located in South Korea. The amount of gramophones (more commonly known as phonographs) in this museum is staggering. In addition to the gramophones, the museum features music boxes and old radios and TVs. Unfortunately, most of the item descriptions and the tour are only in Korean. However the exhibits were still amazing to see. The Edison science museum is connected to the Gramophone museum, although it is technically a separate museum. It focuses on Edison’s main inventions, the lightbulb, the gramophone, and the projector. There’s a huge collection of Edison batteries, lightbulbs, and phonographs here as well. The second floor contains old Edison home appliances, dolls, and telephones.
Next to the Gramophone and Edison Science museum, is the Son Sung Mok Film Museum, named after the founder of all three museums. The Film museum is newer than the other two. The Film museum calls itself “The world’s best film museum”. I’m not certain if that’s true, as this is the only film museum I have been to, but the film museum certainly has an impressive collection as well. There are several halls of film cameras from all over the world dating from the 1800’s to modern times.
There are also hundreds of posters of movie stars and advertisements. The poster advertising the film Gone with the Wind is an original. In addition to the poster, the movie houses a camera used during filming.
The entry fee for the Gramophone and Science Museum is 7,000 won. The package ticket that allows access to all three costs 17,000 won. If you are like me and enjoy antiques and vintage items, then I would say all museums are a must-visit.
Right outside the museum is the lovely Gyeongpo lake.
Right by the lake and museum is Gyeongpodae, a historic pavilion that has a nice view of the lake, though unfortunately the beach is not visible.
Nearby is a memorial tower dedicated to Gangneung soldiers that fought in the Korean war.
There are bikes for rental near the lake. There’s a few kinds available, ranging from single bikes to couple bikes to four person pedal cars. After doing a 1km walk down the lake, I arrived at Gangneung pine forest beach.
I thought the parasols were free…but when I set up under one, I was informed that they cost 10,000 won to rent. I didn’t have the cash so I went to the ATM. When I got there, I realized that 10,000 won is expensive to just rent an umbrella and I can just sit under the pine trees for free if I wanted shade. But when I got back the guy already had put the mat under my parasol so I just rented it anyway. Still not worth the money.
I tested the water a bit and it was quite cold. Not really the best beach day I guess since it was so cloudy but for me that just means a lower chance of getting burned. But it’s a beach with a lake right behind it. Can’t get much better than that.
After Gyeongpodae, I went to Anmok to grab dinner. Anmok is where the ferry terminal is located, and the area is well known for it’s strip of coffee shops along the beach. In this area, there is an American style burger joint called Bikini Burger. I ate there once when I arrived back from Ulleungdo, and I told the owner I’d go back next time I was in Gangnung. Both times, I got the bacon cheeseburger.
It cost 8,000 won for just the burger, 11,000 for a set. Considering how expensive international food in Korea usually is, that price isn’t so bad.
I stayed in Aark house, a really cute small hostel near Gangneung city center. It’s about 20 minutes from the beach, but the owner is very nice and cooks great breakfasts in the morning, much better than the toast and jam of typical hostels. The price was 22,000 won per night for a 6 bed room, but I had the room to myself both nights. There weren’t many guests at the hostel, but for me, at least, that wasn’t a bad thing. The bed was also very comfortable and the beds all had privacy curtains.
The owner also has very detailed information on how to get to Gangneung attractions. She has a map of the area and the bus schedules. Bus 202 goes to most of Gangneung’s tourist sites, including the lake, Charmsoori museum, the beach, the sundubu village, and the Ojukheon house.I considered going to Jeongdongjin that Sunday, which has a beach and the world record for the closest train station to the ocean, but decided not to go since it was rainy and I had go back to work the next day. But in case I had gone, the hostel owner had a time schedule for the shuttle buses that go to Jeongdongjin station from Gangneung station. The only downside to the hostel was that it was a bit hard to find at first. It’s not that far from the bus stop, but it’s located in a residential area. The owner also doesn’t speak fluent English, but she knows enough to help and speaks it better than she gives herself credit for.