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Beach Season Finale

Thinking about “the beach” conjures up images of scantily clad twenty-somethings galavanting around in barely-there bikinis, sipping on Bud Light Limes and greasing themselves up with all sorts of tanning oils. Rocking out. Partying. Splashing around. Catching rays. In Korea, all of these assumptions are completely false.

In Korea, popular beaches (the same goes for outdoor pools,) have very short seasons where they are actually considered open. Even during this so-called high season, the beach culture is nothing like it is in the states. It is commonplace to wear clothing and life jackets while going in the water. There are ropes that cut off where you can go “swimming,” a mere 25 meters into the ocean. The area past the ropes are heavily patrolled with coast guards in speed boats.

All of this being said, I have had some fantastic experiences at beaches in Korea. Yes, there are times we are gawked at for actually going swimming, wearing bikinis and sipping on makgeolli at the beach. Nevertheless, heading west to Sokcho for the final weekend of beach season was a blast.

From Seoul, getting to Sokcho Beach is super easy. From the Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, it’s about a three-hour ride and costs W14,000. Buses run frequently and you can get tickets when you arrive at the terminal. When you arrive at the Express Bus Terminal in Sokcho, the beach is a straight, 500 meter shot to the beach.

When we arrived in Sokcho and got our bearings, we set out in search of a place to stay. Close to the beach, we popped into several motels, all of which quoted us W100,000 for a single night. We headed less than a block away from the beach in search of cheaper digs and approached a small, dark, unassuming motel: Motel Black Box. For W60,000 for the night, it was perfect. The motel is space-themed and at night, all of the wallpaper is lit up with black lights. Pure magic.

After enjoying a cloudy, wet, day at the beach and night out on the town, we headed to my favorite place in Korea, Seoraksan National Park, on Sunday. Photos and details from that experience in the next post!

These photos are from the final roll of film from my supersampler where a loose piece of metal was tearing across the film, creating a thick, dark blemish across the entire roll.


  1. Hey Claire. I’m working on an article for Groove Magazine on Korean love motels. The editor wanted me to do brief writeups on a few “quirky” examples. I immediately thought of Motel Black Box, where I stayed last fall. Unfortunately, she also wants pictures and an address. None of the pics I took were high res enough (obviously at the time I didn’t anticipate needing them for an article :-P). I was wondering if I could request any that you took? The motel doesn’t have a website and your blog was the only thing I could find online with a reference. You would be attributed properly of course! Thanks -Tony

    • Good evening Tony. Thanks for getting in touch with me. Motel Black Box definitely deserves a mention! Unfortunately, my dslr was out of commission at the time and all the photos I have are low res as well. Wish I could help you out, let me know if you need anything else. Good luck finding some photos! Thanks -Claire

  2. No worries! It’s a shame it looks like Black Box won’t make the cut but c’est la vie (we stayed in a room with a fluorescent unicorn triumphantly ascending a pink cloud mural btw). If you have any other pics of love motels, I’d be happy to use them. My editor wants pics of 5 places, but the motels don’t exactly advertise so she probably doesn’t realize that this requires me to run around and negotiate with ajeossi in bad-Korean to try to get them to let me take pics without renting the room. It will be about as awkward as the rest of my life in Korea…

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