Story: JADE NGOC
It is every K-drama fan’s dream to travel to the historical settings of South Korea’s studios and filming locations.
Aside from well-known hotspots like Nami Island, featured in romantic scenes in the drama series Winter Sonata, and Wolmi Island, associated with the hit series Descendants of the Sun, there are numerous locations in South Korea that have played a starring role in popular shows and films. From retro city streets to ancient fortresses, these sites are a must-visit for any K-drama fan.
NAJU IMAGE THEME PARK
This elaborate historical set was built in 2002 in Naju, Jeollanam Province, as the shooting location for Jumong, a K-drama series that aired on MBC in 2006. Thanks to the show’s overwhelming popularity, MBC decided to increase the number of episodes from the original 60 to 81. The series has been broadcast in over 13 countries, and is regarded as a crucial component of Hallyu, or the “Korean wave” of pop culture that spread across the globe.
Naju Image Theme Park has also been used as the backdrop for a number of dramas and movies, including Lee San, Wind of the Palace, Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds and Goblin.
The park depicts the massive and majestic three kingdoms of Goguryeo, Silla and Baekje with their towering walls and fortresses. Visitors can dress up in traditional costumes, visit ancient workshops and practice their archery skills.
Similar to Iwha Mural Village in Seoul, Mokpo’s Sihwa Alley is a popular tourist attraction that combines a retro setting with colorful street art. The alley is located on a hillside in the southwestern city and features 90s-era storefronts on narrow lanes decorated with whimsical frescoes. The location has appeared in several well-known K-drama series, including 1987: When the Day Comes and Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol.
Meta Provence is a unique location that visitors to Damyang in Jeollanam Province should not miss. The name of the village is a combination of “Meta,” from its nearby Metasequoia trees, and “Provence,” the southeastern region in France.
The village features French-inspired architecture and a charming and colorful atmosphere that draws around 5 million tourists a year. Meta Provence is a cultural, artistic and commercial open space with an art square, a fashion street, a design studio and an experience center.
Adjacent to the village is Damyang’s famous Metasequoia-lined Road, one of South Korea’s most beautiful lanes. It is comparable to the Metasequoia road on Nami Island, which became famous when the series Winter Sonata (2003) was filmed there.
SUNCHEON OPEN FILM SET
As South Korea’s largest filming location, Suncheon Open Film Set is a must-see for K-drama aficionados. The studio complex is approximately 40,000 square meters in size and is divided into three areas, one for each era: Suncheon in the 1950s; Bongcheon-dong village in Seoul in the 1960s; and the Seoul suburbs in the 1970s. There is also a neighborhood with Seoul architecture from the 1960s-1980’s, with loudspeakers and old-school propaganda banners along the roads, as well as interior locations featuring distinctive furnishings of the time.
In addition, an ancient village is filled with houses that have been meticulously recreated in the style of the original Joseon Dynasty, complete with luxurious carvings and sophisticated patterns. Suncheon Open Film Set has been the setting of over 700 films, drama series and reality shows, including The Moon Embracing the Sun, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, East of Eden, Baking King, Light and Shadows, Running Man and many more. The realistic backdrops bring back memories of their youth to the elderly, while young visitors can learn about South Korea’s history from the settings.
During peak season, the studio welcomes approximately 8,000 tourists every day. South Korean parents frequently bring their children here, dressing them in their old school uniforms, walking down nostalgic streets and talking about the unforgettable past. For many visitors, the studio serves as a place to connect and help bridge the generation gap.