Here’s A South Korea Travel Itinerary Especially Made For The Koreanovela Fan
There’s this new popular to-do for tourists in South Korea: chasing down locations used in Koreanovelas. Korean dramas and other TV shows blew up all across the globe in the last two decades, with productions like My Sassy Girl and Winter Sonata leading the charge into a brave new world of Korean fandom. It was dubbed The Korean Wave, the Hallyu 2.0.
And in response to the continuously growing popularity of Korean media, the South Korean government began pushing all these different places that were once used as sets for Korean shows, to serve as entries to bucketlists of travelling Hallyu aficionados. These days, the entire Hallyu itineraries exist for fans to help put together their travel plans, and essentially bring them closer to the worlds they only once watched on the small screen. If you’re a Koreanovela fan and flirting with the idea of recreating scenes from your favorite shows, we’ve put together a list of popular show locations you may want to visit.
1. Gyeongbokgung Palace
This massive palace has played a part in contemporary Korean culture as a set for a whole host of Korean dramas. Gyeongbokgung Palace is one of the five grand palaces of South Korea and was once the main palace of the great Joseon Kingdom. Rooftop Prince, Queen In-Hyun’s Man and Moon Embracing the Sun have all used the location, with its massive façade and intricate oriental architecture, as a set for their period piece tearjerkers.
2. Daeo Bookstore
Fans of the Korean drama Shark, or avid followers of BTS, may recognize this quaint little bookstore as a recurring set location. It's right by Gyeongbokgung station and a short walk from the palace, in the beautiful village of Seochon. Daeo is the oldest bookstore in South Korea and certainly looks the part, with all kinds of bits and bobs stacked in fantastic piles all throughout the store. There’s a café attached to Daeo, too, if you’re feeling a little peckish. Explore the cluttered shelves and eclectic interior once occupied by Kim Nam-Gil and Son Ye-Jin and their romantic melodrama.
3. Nami Island
Have you cried over Winter Sonata yet? If you have and are looking to wreck yourself just a little bit more, Nami Island awaits. This picturesque island is 63 kilometres south of Seoul and sits squarely in the middle of the North Han river. Fall in love as you frolic down tunnels of green and lanes lined with trees as Bae Yong-Joon and Choi Ji-Woo once did.
4. Namsan Seoul Tower
An iconic feature in and of itself, N Seoul Tower has risen as a sparkling backdrop to many a Korean comedy. Boys Over Flowers and Oh My Ghostess are among the many Korean shows that have used it as a set, its bright lights lighting up sweet and funny little moments between characters. Bask in the memories of TV shows come and gone as you make your way up to the view deck for an immaculate panorama of star-studded Seoul.
5. Petite France
Delightfully weird and soothingly sweet Korean drama My Love Who Came from the Stars built up to a romantic climax amid the quaint, color-pop houses of Petite France, a cute little town in Gyeonggi province. The rocky gardens and brightly colored walls make this French culture town a kitschy little must-see for the average Hallyu fan. Wait for night to fall and recreate those magical moments shared between Do Min-joon and Cheon Seong-yi in the dim lights of Petite France.
South Korea is an exciting parade of familiar sights for Hallyu fans both old and new. From the cutesy abodes of Petite France to the ancient majesty of Gyeongbokgung Palace, the unbroken quiet of Nami Island and the cluttered shelves of Daeo Bookstore, there’s plenty for you to see as you lose yourself deeper into your most beloved shows. Grab a Hallyu map and make your way up N Seoul Tower and see what else this wonderful country has to offer.
Cover photo by Timothy Ries from Unsplash / Thumbnail photo from @sji_koreabackpacker