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2:30pm 08/02/2024
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Travel back in time at South Korea’s retro destinations
By:The Korea Herald / ANN

SEOUL: Korea is not known for preserving its modern history, but there are still places where you can get a taste of 20th-century Korea.

The Korea Tourism Organization this month recommended several travel destinations outside of Seoul that might evoke nostalgia among older travelers and entertain younger people with a time travel-like experience.

Dongkwang Cinema in Dongducheon, Gyeonggi Province

Located in the northern part of Gyeonggi Province, Dongducheon has long been famous as a US military base town, catering to the US Army in Korea stationed in the area.

The military base moved out in 2018 but the city is still visited by foreigners and tourists from abroad, particularly US soldiers.

An old-style cinema in town is a place that deserves a visit when you are in Dongducheon.

Dongkwang Cinema, which opened in 1959, caught many drama fans’ hearts after being featured in mega-hit dramas “Reply 1988” (2015) and “Signal” (2016).

It is the country’s only one-screen theater that is still in operation.

Here, you can catch the latest film for 9,000 won (RM32), slightly cheaper than charged at major Korean multiplexes.

The cinema is also a living museum as it holds many old film-related items, including an old-style projector, sofa, signboard and hand-written movie schedule.

But don’t let the looks fool you. You will be surprised to know that the cinema has an online reservation system, a digital projector and recliner chairs for the comfort of the moviegoers.

Cheoram Coal Mine Historic Town in Taebaek, Gangwon Province

Taebaek, a popular winter getaway in Gangwon Province, is a sought-after travel spot for skiing, snow and mountain climbing.

But there is more to Taebaek than snow festivals and winter sports.

Cheoram Coal Mine Historic Town is a restored and preserved coal mining town.

The town vividly presents the legacy of the Korean coal industry, the lifestyle of the miners and the history of the city that has been largely forgotten in recent years.

With gray brick houses, and old-fashioned stores and restaurants, travelers can get a glimpse into the Korea of the 1970s and 1980s.

Gyuam Craftsman Village in Buyeo, South Chungcheong Province

Gyuam, a countryside town in Buyeo, South Chungcheong Province, was becoming deserted as younger generations left the place.

With the number of residents decreasing since the 1960s, the houses and stores were being left vacant.

Things turned around after craftsmen and designers started to trickle into the town.

The old buildings, rather than being torn down, became workshops for the artists.

Many of the desolate stores were renovated into eye-catching cafes, restaurants and stationery shops, among others.

An iconic spot is Segan Bookstore, a bookshop created in an 80-year-old tobacconist.

The village welcomes young travelers with a pleasant surprise — visuals familiar from TV dramas and documentaries, and hip interior designs inside the buildings.

According to the KTO, a special exhibition and flea market are scheduled for March.

Retro-themed towns in Daegu and Gunsan, North Jeolla Province

Daegu and Gunsan are known for their preserved villages.

Hwabon Station, which opened in 1938, moved countless passengers from the relatively deserted district of Sanseong-myeon, Daegu to other villages.

After the locals left for the big cities, the station became a dying flag station.

But the remaining residents took action to restore the area, planting flowers and opening a train-themed cafe, turning the small station into a popular tourist destination.

The station, which has been used as a set of many popular films and dramas, has a permanent exhibition showcasing its rich history.

Meanwhile, Time Travel Town, located in the northern part of Gunsan, North Jeolla Province, is a tourist destination filled with modern architecture.

Start the tour at Gunsan Modern History Museum where Gunsan’s modern history during the Japanese colonial era can be explored.

Ranging from Joseon Bank’s Gunsan Office to Jongguksa Temple and traditional Japanese architecture to idyllic houses, the buildings present a sight unlike any you will see on a Seoul street.

The time travel experience will be repeated in Gunsan’s many cafes, restaurants and shops.

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