[WEEKEND GETAWAY] Make like a star at these popular K-drama sets
International tourism is on the rise as the world leaves the Covid-19 pandemic behind, presenting a perfect opportunity for Korean drama fans to get out and about and visit some of their favorite small screen sites.
Numerous famous dramas take place in old Korea, such as “Twenty Five, Twenty One” (2022) and “Mr. Sunshine” (2018). Foreign fans that have grown attached to that retro Korean mood flock to the country and search out those spots when they visit.
Also popular with Koreans who want to experience some nostalgia, the retro-vintage concept has begun reliving its glory days, making a visit even more appealing.
If you wonder what Korea looked like in the past, here is a list of five filming spots worth visiting, recommended by the Korea Tourism Organization.
While not especially vintage, traces of the 20th century Seoul seen in “Squid Game” (2021) linger in the alleys and the low buildings of Ssangmun-dong, in Dobong District, northern Seoul.
The series features a fish market named Sangwoo’s Fish Store — named after the character played by Park Hae-soo and run by the character’s mother — located in Ssangmun-dong. The shop is located in Baekwoon Market, a real place that can be visited by fans of the show. Drama posters and souvenirs can be seen throughout the market, ensuring tourists that they’re in the right place.
Unlike the skyscraper apartments seen across Seoul, low multi-complex houses are clustered in Ssangmun-dong, making it the right place if you want a taste of the old Seoul streets and buildings.
After a tour around the streets of Ssangmun-dong, stop by Ssangridan-gil — the name given to streets near Ssangmun Station — for some coffee and cake. The streets are home to various old houses and electrical pole wires, but also surprise visitors with neat restaurants, cafes and little shops.
481, Uicheon-ro, Ssangmun-dong, Dobong District, Seoul
Located nearby Solbat Park Station Exit 1
Business Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 9: 00 p.m. Differs depending on individual stands
Phone number: 02) 991-0678
Sunshine Land in Nonsan, South Chungcheong, was jointly built by the city of Nonsan and the production company of hit drama “Mr. Sunshine.” As the name suggests, the venue was the main filming location for the show.
The drama is based on the Korean Empire era, with activists fighting for the country’s independence. Sunshine Land contains a number of attractions that capture Korea from the mid-1800s to the Korean War. Sunshine Studio is the country’s one-and-only shooting set that features the early 1900s. Visitors can go to the 1950 Studio where they can experience what Korea looked like after the Korean War. You can also visit the Military Experience Center to try indoor or screen shooting and virtual reality experiences.
You can rent hanbok (Korean traditional dress) and modern costumes for a few hours from a rental shop at the studio.
If you are searching for a spot with an impressive landscape, take a look around Nonsan Onbit Natural Recreation Forest. The forest was featured in “Our Beloved Summer” (2021-22). A European-style wooden villa is surrounded by a small reservoir and trees, making a photogenic place to upload on social media. The forest and villa is privately owned, but fortunately, they are open for visitors willing to experience the beauty of the nature.
102 Bonghwang-ro, Yeonmu-eup, Nonsan, South Chungcheong
November to February, 9:00 a.m.- 5 p.m., March to October, 9:00 a.m.- 6 p.m. (Tickets are sold until 30 minutes before closing time. Closed every Wednesday, Jan.1, Lunar New Year day and Thanksgiving day.)
Sunshine Studio- 7,000 won for adults (ages 19 and above), 5,000 won for adolescents (ages 13-18) and 3,000 won for children (ages 3-12). Free for ages under 3.
Military Experience Center- Free for citizens of Nonsan and sisterhood cities. Visit the website for details.
Survival Game in Military Experience Center- 14,000 won for adults (age 19 and above), 9,000 won for children (ages 7-18). Group visit (20 or more) receive 2,000-won discount.
Screen shooting and indoor shooting in Military Experience Center- 2,000 won
VR Experience in Military Experience Center – 5,000 to 15,000 won depending on the program
Phone number: 041) 730-2955
At Mungyeong Saejae Provincial Park in Mungyeong, North Gyeongsang, you can find the Mungyeongsaejae Open Set, which is famous as the set of numerous historical dramas and movies.
TV series such as the “The Red Sleeve” (2021-22) and “The King’s Affection” (2021) were filmed here, not to mention the renowned horror series “Kingdom” (2019). The set consists of around 130 buildings that resemble those from the Joseon Dynasty. You can also look around by hopping on a ride that takes you around Mungyeong Saejae Provincial Park.
If you are planning to visit, make sure to hop on the Mungyeong Dansan Monorail. You’ll be able to witness the miraculous landscape of Mungyeong Saejae and the Baekdudaegan mountain system that runs the length of the Korean peninsula. The ride lasts an hour for a round trip, taking you for a 3.6k-kilometers (2.2-mile) ride.
Mungyeongsaejae Open Set
932 Saejae-ro Mungyeong-eup, Mungyeong, North Gyeongsang
November to February, 9:00 a.m. – 5 p.m., March to October, 9:00 a.m.- 6 p.m. (Closed every Jan.1, Lunar New Year day and Thanksgiving day.)
Admission Fee: 2,000 won for adults (ages 19-64), 1,000 won for adolescents (ages 13-18) and soldiers, 500 won for children (ages 7-12).
Group visit receives discount.
Phone number: 054) 572-1150, (054) 572-1151
Pohang, North Gyeongsang has recently become a popular destination for young travelers. Attractions such as the Space Walk and Igari Anchor Observatory are favorites, but that’s not the only reason why people flock to the area.
“Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” (2021) is based on a story that revolves around a seaside village and often shows scenes from the Cheongha Market. The market is a great location to feel the retro Korean vibe, especially as it is not a typical supermarket, but a traditional market where you can witness vendors and customers bantering while getting fresh seafood.
If you are visiting, you should aim for the days the traditional Cheongha Market opens — the 1st, 6th, 11th and 16th, 21st, and 26th of each month. The market still has many mock sets for the drama such as the cafe and supermarket.
6 Cheongha-ro, 200beon-gil, Cheongha-myeon, Buk District, Pohang, North Gyeongsang
Business Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. (Traditional market opens every 1, 6, 11, 16, 21, 26th each month.)
“Twenty-Five Twenty-One” was loved by fans all over the world, bringing fans to its filming locations in Jeonju, North Jeolla.
Seohak Art Village that stands near the already famous Jeonju Hanok Village (Wansan District, Jeonju) has been attracting more travelers ever since the drama was aired. Try visiting the alley and the record shop that Hee-do, played by Kim Tae-ri, ran across in tears.
The cherry on top is the Hanbyeok Tunnel, where the drama’s main couple Hee-do and Yi-jin, played by Nam Joo-hyuk, filmed a romantic scene. Ahyeon Supermarket, which the main character visits often, can also be found on the way to Namgosanseong Fortress.
Seohak Art Village
Seohak-dong, Wansan District, Jeonju, North Jeolla
BY CHOI SEUNG-PYO, KIM DONG-EUN [email@example.com]