Despite its proximity to Seoraksan National Park, Sokcho (속초) is more of a fishing town than a tourist hub. The main commercial activity – and its attendant aromas – are clustered along the waterfront. For most domestic tourists the main draw is the chance to sup on fresh raw fish with the tang of salt in the air. Seafood restaurant Abai Shikdang has been particularly attractive to visitors since its vintage eatery appeared in K-drama Autumn in My Heart. The beaches get crowded on New Year’s Eve when people gather to watch the first sunrise of the year.
Sokcho is only about 60km from the border and was part of North Korea from 1945 to the end of the Korean War. Most of the coastline is lined with barbed wire. At night, remember that lights in the water are to attract squid; lights on the beaches are to detect infiltrators.