Seaside city enjoys travel boom because Pokemon Go thinks it’s in North Korea

A seaside city is enjoying a surge of visitors who are wandering the streets at all hours as they look at their smartphones. Why? It appears to be the only place in South Korea where Pokemon Go players can chase the mobile game’s virtual monsters. Restaurants, hotels and businesses in Sokcho are trying to capitalise on the sudden craze by luring tourists with special promotions. But the invasion could just be down to a glitch - the game is based on Google Maps, which are restricted in South Korea over security concerns. But because of the way the maps work in the game, the city appears to be classified as part of North Korea.

As soon as we got out of the car, four of us turned on our smartphones and began playing Pokemon Go. It was very dark but what was amazing was that there were a lot of men roaming around the beaches with smartphones in their hands at 4am.

Pokemon Go fan Han Kyeol, 24, from Seoul

The mayor of Sokcho pledged to increase free Wi-Fi hotspots and battery-charging stations, while travel agencies have launched Pokemon-themed tour packages to the city. Hotels in the east coast city near the North Korean border reportedly saw a surge in reservations. Lee Jung-hwan, a 26-year-old video producer, has been traveling to Sokcho and other towns in Gangwon province to find and capture monsters since Wednesday. He said: “I met people who took a day off to come to Sokcho, people who worked in the morning and left their job in the afternoon and people who took a vacation.”

I wish people could play the game here so it could stimulate the regional economy. I got to go to new places and found a beautiful cliff as I was looking for the spots

Player Lee Jung-hwan