Korean Movies and Dramas Filming Sites

If you have been watching Korean movies and dramas, you are probably interested or already planning to visit the filming sites to reminisce or re-enact your favorites scenes.  In Seoul alone you’ll find many filming sites in different locations. But have you thought about going to that one place where you’ll be able to see not one but most of the sites you’ve watched in movies or dramas? Yes, there are several movie parks in Korea that are made specifically for filming.

I’ll introduce to you my top 3 movie/drama sets in Korea.

  1. Hapcheon Image Theme Park 합천영상테마파크

One place that I really wanted to see is the Hapcheon Image Theme Park in Hapcheon-gun.

I arrived a little early and it was still closed so I had to wait outside but it I didn’t matter coz at the parking area I  enjoyed the posters of some movies and dramas that were filmed there.

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Just by looking at this map in the gate, I can already picture out that the area is big.

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Part of theme park is owned by KBS and other part is owned by MBC. Two of the biggest broadcast channels in Korea. Now you might wonder why of all movie parks in Korea, Hapcheon Image Theme Park is one of my favorite? Well, it’s because of the Japanese colonial era setting. If you watched movies and dramas like The Botherhood of War, Age of Shadows, The Last Princess, Bridal Mask, Chicago Typewriter and many more, they are all filmed in Hapcheon Image Theme Park. Before I went there, I thought that the whole place is on Japanese setting. To my surprise, it isn’t. There are other interesting sites and the area is quite huge.

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How many times have you seen this train and rail road in dramas and movies? A lot I guess.

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Address: 757, Hapcheonhosu-ro, Yongju-myeon, Hapcheon-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do
Directions: At Hapcheon Bus Terminal, take a county bus headed towards Hapcheon Image Theme Park. (The buses are available at 08:10, 08:30, 09:00, 09:30, 10:30, 11:10, 12:30, 13:40, 14:20, 15:00, 16:00, 16:50, 17:20, 18:30, 19:30 and the trip takes about 15 minutes.)
Admission Fee ₩5,000

     2. Suncheon Open Film Set 순천 드라마 촬영장

Now this one is really exciting I have to say. The set consists of 3 villages representing different eras from 1950’s, 1960’s to 1970’s. Around 700 movies, TV programs and dramas were filmed in Suncheon Open Film Set such as Baker King, East of Eden, Gangnam Blues, Love Lies (2015), Running Man and others.

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Exciting, did I say?! Well, yes it is. You can rent an old-styled school uniform to wander around the film set and shoot your own movie or drama. It’s a film set anyway, so why not?! 🙂 Rental fee is ₩2,000 for 1 hour.

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I really enjoy doing this time-travel kind of thing. It’s like I’ve been transported back to the late 50’s after the Korean War. It’s also a nice way to revisit and learn about the past. Many other visitors were also wearing the same uniform and other styles.

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Address: 24, Biryegol-gil, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do
Directions: From Suncheon Intercity Bus Terminal, take Bus No. 77, 99 or 777. Get off at Suncheon Drama Open Film Set. Or from Suncheon Station take bus no.77 and get off at Suncheon Drama Open Film Set
Admission Fee ₩3,000

    3. KOFIC Namyangju Studios (남양주종합촬영소)

I may be too late for sharing this because this studio in Namyangju already closed last June 1, 2018. I was lucky that came in May when they offered free shuttle bus ride and free entrance to the studio. I heard it is going to be relocated to Busan or other place. But anyway, check this out and visit it as soon as it opens again.

KOFIC Namyangju Studios is a film-making studio complex with an outdoor filming studio, indoor studios, recording studio, and various film-making equipment. It was the film studio closest to Seoul.

This studio features the replica of the Joint Security Area, the border area between the North and South Korea where you can see soldiers from and North and South standing face to face with each other. Since I still didn’t get a chance to visit the real one, this studio is enough for now.

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There were also Hanok sets which were the filming sites of the K-Dramas My Love from the Stars, Moon Embracing the Sun, Arang and the Magistrate and more.

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These are the film studios that I have visited so far in Korea and I plan to visit more next time. If you know movies and dramas that were filmed in this sites or if you have already visited these places, share your experience to us. 🙂

Oil Tank Culture Park in Seoul

In 2017, Seoul introduced new public spots such as Seoullo 7017, Gyeongchun Forest Line, Seoul Battleship Park and the Oil Tank Culture Park which are part of the regeneration projects of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. It’s really amazing how these facilities were transformed into an environment-friendly sites instead of just knocking them down.

The Oil Tank Culture Park is within 500m distance from the Seoul World Cup Stadium. I got interested about this park because of the Korean Drama Hwayugi so I added it to my itinerary when I came back to Korea last spring. Getting there is easy. You can take the subway and get off at World Cup Stadium Station Line 6 and come out at Exit 2. You will immediately see the World Cup Stadium upon exiting. I was curious about how the stadium looks like and why people are coming in, I entered the main door and just saw the IMAX theater. I didn’t go in further. There was also a shopping area outside the stadium.

 

The park is connected to the walking path along Maebongsan Mountain. Follow the path and you’ll see signs which will lead you to the culture park.

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There are 6 tanks and the first tank I explored was T5 which is tagged as ‘Story Hall’. It was a good idea to see T5 first because it has the history of the culture park. The Mapo Oil Depot has been built to supply oil for future oil crisis and been restricted to public access for decades. It was shut down in the year 2000 when they started the construction of the stadium for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Later on, the existing tanks has been transformed into cultural facilities such as exhibit hall and performance hall. It was then opened to public in September 2017 as Oil Tank Culture Park.

 

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T2 has an open amphitheater for performances. The Glass Pavilion also known as the shooting location of the popular Korea Drama Hwayugi is located in T1. It appeared several times in the drama.

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The T6 is a community center. It’s quite spacious. It’s has a cafe and a meeting or lecture hall.

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After visiting this park, I realized that it’s not just because of Korean drama, but learning about the history of this culture park makes it an interesting place and I must say it’s one of the new must-visit places in Seoul for a unique experience.

Guide for First Time Travellers to Korea

Are you excited for your trip to South Korea but you don’t know what to do or where to go? Is it your first time traveling to Korea? If yes, read up and keep these things in mind.

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Gyeongbokgung Palace

1. Wear Comfortable Shoes

They say Koreans travel by BMW (bus, metro and walking). Wear your most comfortable shoes because will definitely do a lot of walking while in Korea.

2. Dress Appropriately

Korea has four seasons. Before traveling to the country, do some research on the weather. It’s freezing during winter season from December to February so make sure to wear something that will keep you warm. It is still cold in early spring, from March to early April. The weather becomes warm from mid April. Summer is from June to August. Summer in Korea can be really hot and it usually rains a lot. Autumn is from September to November. It becomes really cold from late October.

One more thing, girls can wear mini skirts or shorts but please avoid wearing revealing tops.

3. Download the Subway Korea app

The Subway Korea app is an offline app where you can find everything you need in taking the subway. You don’t need to connect to a wifi for it to work accurately. There are a lot of trains in Korea and the transfers can be confusing if you are not to used to their system. So get this app and don’t get lost.

4. Use T-Money Card

T-money is a transportation card which you can use in the subway, bus and some taxis. The train will be your main transportation while in Seoul since most tourist attractions can be reached by train. You can save ₩100 each ride by using T-money than purchasing single journey tickets. You can purchase the T-money card and charge it at any convenience store or subway vending machines.

5. Avoid traveling from midnight to early morning.

Subways are closed at 12 midnight. If you missed the last train and you don’t know which bus you have to take, you’ll probably be looking for a taxi. But taxi fare from 12mn to 4am is relatively high compared to regular rates. In my experience, when we went to Jinhae, we came back to Seoul at past 12midnight so we had to take a taxi to go back to the guest house and it charged us at around ₩26,000 for a 5-minute ride.

6. Tax-free for Foreigners

Foreigners can shop tax-free for a minimum purchase of ₩30,000. There are shops where you can get instant refunds. Some shops will require you to present your passport while others do not. In case you didn’t get instant refund, you can get the refund at Incheon International Airport before departure. Just look for the Tax Refund Counter at the airport and make sure you have the receipts with you.

Just recently, the Korea Tourism Organization announced that foreign tourists are eligible for a 10% tax refund on hotel accommodations. Click on the link for more details and for the list of the hotels.

7. Souvenir Shopping in Insadong

I prefer buying souvenirs in Insadong because it cheaper. Also, if you pay in cash you can get discounts and freebies.

8. Rent a Hanbok

To complete your Korea trip, it’ll be nice to experience to wear their traditional dress, Hanbok. For me, the best souvenir I can have for every Korea trip is a stunning photo wearing a Hanbok in a palace. I like wearing Hanbok because it’s comfortable to wear and it’s colorful.

Did you know that you can enter all 5 palaces, National Folk Museum and Jongmyo Shrine for free if you are wearing a Hanbok? There are Hanbok rentals shops around Insadong and places near the Gyeongbukgung. Rental fees start at ₩14,000 for 4hrs.

9. Eating in Restaurants

In Seoul, you’ll find restaurants in every corner. Most staff in restaurants cannot understand English but they usually have English menus. Take note, some menus require a minimum of 2 portions of order. So don’t get confused when they tell you that you cannot order 1.

When you are done eating, you don’t have to ask the staff for the bill like what we do in the Philippines. You pay on your way out. You should stand up and go to the counter to pay and then you can leave. The counter is usually located near the door.

10. No Tipping

You don’t have to give tips to restaurants, hotels or taxi drivers for their service. South Korea has a no-tipping culture. Koreans are nice and helpful.  If someone helps you to carry your luggage or even if someone’s gone out of their way just to help you, you can just sincerely thank them. You don’t need to give tips because they will refuse to accept it or they might feel offended.

But there are also situations where you have to give tips, like if you join group or package tours. Most of the times, you have to give tips to tour guides and drivers.

11. Discounts

There are discounts especially for foreigners. You can get discounts coupons when you arrive at the airport or you can get them online.

12. Do not put your powerbank or batteries inside your check-in luggage

This is just a reminder for a hassle-free travel. They scan luggages after check in, so wait until you are cleared to depart Korea. If they cannot reach you, they will open your luggage to remove your powerbank.

13. Respect the Culture and Tradition of the Country

It is a must when traveling to foreign countries. Every country has their own culture and tradition. And you cannot expect the locals to adjust according your needs and wants.

Is it safe to Travel to Korea?

Definitely Yes! I’ve traveled to Korea several times and I’ve never experienced being treated bad or being scammed. You can even leave your stuff in your table at coffee shops or at train/bus stations unattended. No one will be interested.

If you still don’t know where to go, here are the usual places that tourists visit when in Seoul.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

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Gwanghwamun Gate is the main gate of the Gyeongbokgung

Getting there: Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit 5 or Anguk Station and Exit 1.

Changdeokgung Palace and Huwon

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Getting there: Anguk Station, Exit 3. Walk straight from the exit (towards east) for about 5-min.

N Seoul Tower

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Getting there: Take the Namsan Circular Shuttle Bus or Cable Car

Namsan Circular Shuttle Bus
1. Namsan Circular Shuttle Bus No. 02
– Take the bus from the closest subway station: Chungmuro Station (Seoul Subway Line 3, 4), Exit 2 (in front of Daehan Cinema) or Dongguk University Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 6.

2. Namsan Circular Shuttle Bus No. 03
– Take the bus from the closest subway station: Seoul Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 4), Exit 9, Itaewon Station (Seoul Subway Line 6), Exit 4 or Hangangjin Station (Seoul Subway Line 6), Exit 2.

3. Namsan Circular Shuttle Bus No. 05
– Take the bus from the closest subway station: Myeong-dong Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 3 or Chungmuro Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 2 (in front of Daehan Cinema).

[Cable Car]
Get off at Myeong-dong Station (Seoul Subway Line 4) and Exit 3.
Walk for about 15 minutes following the street on the right side of the Pacific Hotel. The cable car boarding place will be seen ahead.

Credits to Korea Tourism Organization

Myeongdong

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Getting there: Myeong-dong Station , Exits 5, 6, 7 & 8.

Bukchon Hanok Village

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Getting there: Anguk Station , Exit 1 or 2. Go straight for about 300m.

Changdeokgung, Insadong and Bukchon are close to each other. So visit these places while you are within the area.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza

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Getting there: Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station and Exit 1.

Nami Island

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Getting there: Get off at Gapyeong Station, and take a taxi to Gapyeong Wharf or take the Gapyeong Tourist Bus.

Those were just some of the popular places in Seoul and nearby places. You can add more to your itinerary if you have enough time in Korea. Enjoy your trip!

 

My 4 Seasons of Happiness in Korea

Like other countries, Korea has 4 seasons and all of them have made me always long to travel back to the country. You will never run out of places to visit and activities to do as there are festivals happening all year round. I have been asked several times what is the best season to visit Korea and I couldn’t pick one season to recommend because honestly I like them all. Let me share with you some photos of my trips and recommended places each season.

SPRING

Autumn is really beautiful but I think spring is my favorite. Mainly because of the weather. The temperature is getting warm and it’s easier for me to wander around. Of course, the flowers are blooming which makes the surroundings romantic. Though I’m not a romantic person but I find spring to be the most romantic of all seasons. You’ll see couples strolling around wearing couple outfits and families are having picnics at the parks. They are out having fun after hibernating during the freezing winter. It’s like a start of new life, as what my Korean friend said.

Now you might wonder what’s with spring? What you can expect to see in spring? It’s cherry blossom season. Cherry blossoms only last for about 2 weeks. They usually start blooming on late March and at its peak on the first week of April in some places. If you want to catch the cherry blossoms check out the forecast that’s being announced by the Korea Tourism Organization.

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This photo was taken at Gyeongbukgung Palace in Seoul

Jinhae Cherry Blossom festival is the biggest cherry blossom festival in the South Korea. Jinhae is a district in the city of Changwon in South Gyeongsang Province where over 350,000 cherry blossom trees bloom during spring. The festival is being held every first week of April.

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The 2 famous spots in Jinhae Cherry Blossom festival are Yeojwacheon Stream and the  Gyeonghwa Station.

The Yeojwacheon is also famously known as the Romance Bridge because it is a filming location of Korean drama “Romance”.

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Get your cameras ready when approaching the Gyeonghwa Station. You’ll be passing the cherry trees lined rail road.

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Getting there: If you are in Busan, you are less than 1 hour away from Jinhae by bus. If you are coming from Seoul, traveling via KTX is the best option. There is no KTX line in Jinhae Station though, you have to transfer Mugunghwa Line in Masan or Changwon Station. And take note that train to Jinhae Station runs only during the festival.

If you don’t have time to go Jinhae, head over to Yeouido in Seoul for the Yeouido Cherry Blossom festival.

Getting there: Get off at Yeouinaru Station (Subway Line 5), Exit 1. 20 minute walk.

In case you miss the cherry blossoms, don’t worry. There are other festivals to look forward to in spring. There’s the Yuchae Flower festival in Daejo Eco-Park along Nakdong River in Busan. Also known as rapeseed or canola flowers. You can see these flowers by mid April.

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Getting there: Get off at Gangseo-gu Office Station and go out exit 1 or 3

Another highlight of spring is the Taean Tulip Festival in Taean-gun, in South Chungcheong Province. I believe it’s one of the best tulips festivals in the world.

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Check out my previous post about the Taean Tulip Festival 2017 for more info.

AUTUMN

Who wouldn’t fall for autumn? It’s the most colorful season. You can spot autumn foliage everywhere in the country. Nami Island is beautiful all season and it’s stunning in autumn.

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The Ginkgo Tree Avenue is Asan is also one of the best places to witness the beauty of autumn.

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More details about my trip to Ginkgo Tree Avenue here.

If you don’t have time to go to other places outside Seoul, it’s okay, you can still have a wonderful autumn experience in Seoul. Don’t forget to visit Deoksugung, it’s a palace that’s famous for autumn foliage.

I also spotted this huge Ginkgo tree inside Gyeongbukgung Palace.

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WINTER

Winter in Korea can be really harsh. Most people hate the freezing winter. But since I live in tropical country, I enjoyed winter so much. It’s a dream come true to experience snow. Gangwon province is the most popular during winter season. There are a lot of ski resorts in Gangwon-do. It’s the host province of the 2018 Winter Olympics which will be held in Pyeongchang this February.

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One of the most accessible ski resorts is the Elysian Gangchon Ski Resort. It’s near Nami Island.

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Getting there: Get off at Baegyang-ri Station. A complimentary shuttle ride is provided from Baegyangri Station to the resort.

SUMMER

Summer is not a new season to me. I grew up and still living in a country where it’s like summer all year hehe. Summer in Korea is really hot but not humid. It can also be considered as the rainy season in Korea.  It’s the season when I traveled to Jeju Island. I was lucky it didn’t rain too much during my trip. I like the bright green leaves of summer.

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Because it’s summer, it’s time to sunbathe. Haeundae Beach in Busan is also a must-visit place during summer to enjoy the sun.

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I don’t claim to be an expert, there might be some things I’ve missed but I’m glad I’m able to share the things I learned from my trips because it’s always been a fulfilling experience to travel around Korea whatever season it may be.

Now it’s up to you to decide in which season you would want to travel to Korea. Let me know if you need more information.

Happy travels everyone!