Annyeonghaseyo! Embark on a Korean-drama adventure

Thea Alberto-Masakayan
Shopping district Myeongdong at night. (Thea Alberto-Masakayan, Yahoo Philippines photo)

If you’re a fan of Korean dramas, then a trip to South Korea should definitely be on your bucket list.
 
More than the scenery, great food, and the efficient public transport, Seoul, the heart of South Korea and other nearby areas can provide you a travel experience like no other. You can walk the streets where your favorite stars shot that piggy-back-ride scene, or dine where Lee Min Ho and Park Shin Hye exchanged those heart-melting dialogues. It’s best to bring your honey, and you and your partner can wear couple shirts—it’s perfectly normal there!

Romance in Namsan: N Seoul tower

If you feel like a character in “My Love from the Stars” or you want to trace the footsteps of K-pop queen BoA, and the Korean heartthrobs “Boys over Flowers,” then hop on a cable car, after a short walk from MyeongDong.

Along with the spectacular view, you can make a love pact at the “Locks of Love” area, a spot that has witnessed numerous proposals and pledges of love—real and the reel. You can also drop by the Teddy Bear museum shop for cute souvenirs, get high at the tower’s observatories, or try the unusual Sky restrooms! We’re not wondering why Namsan tower is a favorite shoot location of Korean shows: it is picturesque, romantic, and worth every penny.
 

Love padlocks at the N Seoul Tower or Namsan Tower. (Photo by Thinkstock)
Love padlocks at the N Seoul Tower or Namsan Tower. (Photo by Thinkstock)

Fun and love at Lotte World

Lotte World is a must-see for fans of world-popular drama “Stairway to Heaven.” At Lotte World, you will instantly recognize the iconic merry-go-round and the ice skating rink, which is also South Korea’s largest. If you were a fan of Song Hye Kyo and Rain who headlined “Full House,” you will also remember scenes shot at the amusement park.

The park offers a variety of rides for the young and the young at heart, and a day is not enough to check all the offers of the Magic Island (Outdoor) and Adventure (Indoor) areas. It’s easy to get there too: Get off the Seoul Subway Line 2, Line 8 at Jamsil, and exit at 3 or 4.

You will instantly recognize the iconic merry-go-round at Lotte World. (Photo by Thinkstock)
You will instantly recognize the iconic merry-go-round at Lotte World. (Photo by Thinkstock)

History and city life

If you want to see historical palaces and feel like you were part of the Joseon dynasty, head to Gyeongbokgung Palace, the largest of Korea’s Five Grand Palaces. Gyeongbokgung Palace housed Korea’s early rulers, and every part seems to tell a story. You can also witness a reenactment of the traditional change of guard ceremony and have your photos taken with palace guards, as long as you treat them with courtesy.

Gyeongbokgung Palace (Photo by Thinkstock)
Gyeongbokgung Palace (Photo by Thinkstock)

Just across the historical palace is Gwanghwamun Square, a popular shooting location in Seoul. There lies a statue of Sejong the Great (father of Hangul, Korea’s language) and war hero Yi Sun Sin. Shot on location are parts of popular Korean series “Iris,” “You are the best, Yi Sun Sin,” among others.  You may also try a hanbok (traditional Korean outfit) for free at the area.

Go further and walk beyond the Seoul City Hall, you will see yet another familiar K-drama location: the Chenggyecheon stream.

Add to your bucket list: Cross the Cheonggyecheon stream.
Add to your bucket list: Cross the Cheonggyecheon stream.



The 11-kilometer stream starts from Cheonggye Plaza, and ends at the Hangang (River). Walk hand in hand with your companion, see students study, or just breathe the fresh air and help the stream’s sound clear your mind. See a candlelight fountain at night, or cross the stream and act ala Ha Ji Won in “100 days with Mr. Arrogant.” The best thing? You can do it for free!

Gwanghwamun Square
Gwanghwamun Square

And when your feet are tired, you can try finding a nearby subway and get off at Hoehyeon station, exit 5, and explore Namdeamun market—where practically everything is sold! Go shopping for clothes, shoes, accessories, souvenir items, ginseng, among others. Prices are relatively affordable and the choices are plenty: after all, this spot is the largest traditional market in Korea.  At night, you can eat and drink soju (rice wine) like how Korean stars do it in the K-dramas and the movies: go for those clear tents and order from the ahjummas (old lady). It’s a most real Korea experience you can get.

Nami Island
Even if is almost two hours by train from Seoul, Nami island is worth the long commute. For your ultimate Korean-drama experience, Nami island offers a lot of picture-worthy spots, including the Metasequoia footpath, an aisle with perfectly-lined trees where stars of “Winter Sonata” professed love for each other.
 
At Nami island, you can also ride a couple bike for hours or go on a simple picnic while enjoying the cool air. See squirrels freely interact with visitors—interacting with nature at its finest.
 
Remember: Nami island is a “micro nation” and you need to have a “passport” to get in. Passports are available before you ride a ferry that will bring you to the main island.

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 Enjoy Korea

Although most signs are in Hangul, South Korea is very tourist-friendly. Cabs are labeled whether the drivers can speak English, and a hotline (Dial 120 or 02-120) is ready to assist foreigners. It will also help if you download their subway app, Jihachul, to help you get to places.