Welcome to this series in which fact and fiction collide! Each month, an aspect of Korea will be covered through dramas and you’ll be asked to tell truth from fantasy. Are you up to the challenge?
This month’s topic takes me back to my trip to Korea, which I visited for the first time last October. As any respectable drama fan, my visit to Seoul could not have been complete without a visit to some of my favourite K-drama filming locations. Can you tell which of these famous sights are real, and which ones can only be visited in dreams?
The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince
How can someone not like this MBC romance? A girl who dresses as a boy to get a job (note: not one of the dudes in the picture, I assure you). A bunch of friendly baristas. A young Gong Yoo and a retro touch: this drama sure makes the perfect blend. Throughout the episodes, you’ll see how a rich heir in charge of a shabby coffee shop hires a hard-working tomboy (that he mistakes for a boy) as part of his male-only dream team. Watch the poor man struggle as he starts to develop feelings for his new buddy.
But the real question is : would you really be able to order an Americano at this Coffee Prince cafe?
The answer is: yes! 1st Shop of Coffee Prince is one of Hongdae’s popular attractions. Its interior and exterior is just like the series. You’ll even find the orange flowers painted on the wall and some props from the drama. To get to the cafe, go out of exit 4 at Hongik University station. Don’t do like me and take the address with you. I got lost (as I always do) and never found the place. Thanks to Xinyi Soh, you have pictures to see today.
Was this too easy for you? Let’s see if you can guess the next one.
The Master’s Sun Mall
My friends know that I am slightly obsessed with K-drama The Master’s Sun. I don’t know if it’s because of its original ghost story or the obvious chemistry between this arrogant shopping mall president and his clumsy employee, but the result is absolutely charming. Fans of the show will remember some iconic spots, including a haunted garbage can, a bench and a big fountain. In episode two, the ghost of a young student seems to be hanging around the fountain, scaring clients away. Joong-Won has no choice but to turn to his employee’s supernatural skills.
If there were any way I could visit Kingdom Mall, believe me, I would have. Does Joong-Won’s mall actually exist, or is it another ghost story?
The mall is real! It took me a long bus trip to Gyeonggi-do and a lot of T-Money, but I ended up in front of Kingdom’s doors. In real life, however, the mall is called Enter 6 Dongtan Metapolis (not as cool, in my opinion). It took me a while to find what I was looking for, but I finally found the fountain. Here’s the proof. Although Joong-Won is nowhere to be found, it is worth the visit if you are a true fan of the series.
The pound. The halls. The garden. The magestic front stairs. We have seen these nooks and crannies so often they now seem familiar. Throughout the episodes and the intrigues of this period K-drama, Empress Ki shows us every corner of her quarters. Could this be one of Korea’s many palaces? If so, which one would it be?
Think again. The palace is actually one of MBC’s TV set called Dae Jang Geum Park. It is the largest historical drama open set in Korea. Although the palace has been constructed for movies and dramas, you can still visit it. Other shows like Moon Embracing the Sun and Jewel in the Palace have been filmed there. The architecture and style has been carefully re-created based on historical research on the Three Kingdoms, Goryeo Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty. It is the perfect place to film historical Kdramas.
After his role in Gaksital, Joo Won played two doctor roles, including a young man with the savant syndrome in The Good Doctor, and a brilliant surgeon whose talent and questionable sense of ethics got him a job in the VIP section of a healthcare facility. Yes, I have watched them both. The impressive glass entrance of the hospital you see in Yong-pal is shown many times during the drama. Is this hospital real?
If you ever get sick, don’t show up to this entrance, or expect to wait for a very long time. I was surprised to learn the filming location was not a hospital but… a university campus (IGC). However, Joo Won’s other medical drama, The good doctor, was shot at Ungwon University Hospital. You probably can still drop by and go for a few triangle kimbaps if he’s not too busy saving lives.
If you want to learn more about K-drama filming location, the Korea Tourism Organization has a page that will help you create your own drama tour. From Nami Island to Petite France, there is a certainly a place for you.
Which drama location have you visited, or which one would you like to visit?