Sochang Experience Center
You might be wondering what this is just by looking at the name. Sochang (소창) is a textile harking from the island of Ganghwa, just to the west of Seoul. It’s a thick cotton-like fabric that was used for packaging, baby diapers, table mats, and handkerchiefs among other things. There was a time in Korean history when you could see sochang draped from every laundry line, particularly in the 60s and 70s. While there used to be 60 factories on the small island, only 10 remain today, with the rest having relocated to Daegu in the late 20th century.
I was very fortunate to visit this antique factory and hanok compound with the help of Hana Tour ITC, one of the leading tour companies on the peninsula. Check out their website for many more amazing travel opportunities at affordable prices. Bespoke travel itineraries are also possible!
Let’s get crafty!
You won’t actually be making sochang during your visit to Experience Center – there are 100-year-old machines on site taking care of that – but what you can do is design a stamped handkerchief.* For those wanting something a bit more challenging, stunning traditional packaging classes are also available for a higher price.
To begin the stamping activity, a member of staff will show you to a table reminiscent of kindergarten classrooms. These are fully prepared with a box of adorable stamps and colored ink. The staff showed us how to properly design our textiles, and we were off!
I stuck with traditional island imagery such as turnips, Rose of Sharon flowers, and ginseng. Why not remember where the sochang came from? My friend went a bit more ‘cottagecore’, as she decorated hers with flowers, foxes, and polar bears. It was an enchanting, peaceful atmosphere, complemented by the 1930s hanok that we were working in.
*This is included in the price of the Hana Tour ITC Ganghwa tour.
Two other buildings on site are home to a traditional tea house and a small museum. A tea experience is not included with the Hana Tour ITC package, and guests will have to come here on their own to partake in this ceremony – something I highly recommend.
While all of this is very interesting, the hanok buildings themselves really steal the show. Originally constructed in 1938, the stunning red pine was collected in what is now North Korea. One of the staff informed me that such a creation is likely never to happen again without reunification. We can only hope!
Address: 8 Nammunan-gil 20beon-gil, Ganghwa-eup, Ganghwa-gun, Incheon | 인천 광화군 광화읍 8 남문안길 20번길
Experience hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10AM-6PM
Stamping: 20 minutes
Making products: 1 hour (Reservations required in advance)