Romanticizing the city of Busan through the sets of soppy Korean dramas

Marry Me or Not? is the first Taiwanese drama to be filmed in Busan. Pic: DramaFever

THE recent blockbuster flick Train to Busan may have featured a zombie apocalypse, but K-drama fans know better – the city of Busan is far more romantic in real life compared to the dark, ominous tones portrayed in the movie.

The second largest island in Korea, Busan is a beautiful destination the inspiring scenery has led to countless romantic Korean dramas being filmed here. In fact, many tourists flock to Busan just to visit the places they have seen in their Favorited Korean dramas.

Gamcheon

Gamcheon is famed for its colorful terrace houses tumbling down a hill. Pic: Anton/flickr

See it in:
Running Man

Popular in Korea and other parts of Asia, Running Man is a reality show where celebrity guests complete games and missions at various Korean landmarks to win the race.

Gamcheon Culture Village was one of the locations that Running Man was shot at, and since then, it has become very famous amongst locals and tourists.

Famed for its colorful terrace houses that are built across the hilly landscapes of a coastal mountain, Gamcheon has earned its nickname as Korea’s Santorini or Busan’s Machu Picchu.

In 2009, this location was given an arty makeover by local students who turned this place into a vibrant community of street art and local crafts. While you are here, be sure to check out the Lego-shaped homes, quirky cafes and galleries.

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Dalmaji-gil Road

Dalmaji-gil Road is especially beautiful during cherry blossom season. Source: Mapio

See it in:
Various romantic Korean TV dramas

With romance being the center of most Korean dramas, producers are always on the lookout for the right locations to capture the mood for love.

Dalmaji-gil Road is heavily featured it’s easy to see why. Located at the east end of the famous Haeundae Beach, “Dalmaji-gil” – which translates  to “taking in the moon” –  is a literal description of the place. Many come to this place to enjoy a romantic night under the moon.

Some locals also call it the Montmartre of Busan as the street wraps around a scenic hill, offering beautiful views at every turn.

Whether you are here with a significant other or not, indulge in the romantic atmosphere anyway as you visit art galleries, have a cuppa at a quaint café, or wine and dine at one of the many fine restaurants here.

Gukje Market

Gukje Market was a place where wartime refugees set up stalls to sell food and produce. Pic: taylorandayumi/flickr

See it in:
Ode to my Father

As the second highest-grossing film in the history of Korean cinema, Ode to My Father is a story about a man who survived the Korean War in the 1950s by making a meagre living at Gukje Market.

Historically, Gukje Market was a place where wartime refugees set up stalls to sell food and produce. In the movie, many of the scenes were filmed in Gukje Market to accurately reflect the hardships endured by the refugee community in that era.

Today, it’s one of Korea’s largest markets which connects to Bupyeong Market, Kkangtong Market, and other smaller markets. The best way to explore this huge market is to meander through its many alleyways that give way to stalls selling a variety of goods.

Busan City Centre

Busan’s city center has been heavily featured in Korean dramas. Source: ThousandWonders

See it in:
Marry Me or Not?

Other than K-dramas, many other Asian filmmakers also turn to Busan as their filming location.

Marry Me or Not? is the first Taiwanese drama that has taken this route and in this romantic comedy, the leading characters take viewers through the heart of Busan City as they explore the many bustling streets, stop at Busan Tower, and visit the famous secondhand bookstores of Bosu-dong.

SEE ALSO: Score rare gems at these charming bookstores in Asia

The hero and heroines also visited the Gamcheon Culture Village and Gwangalli beach near the city. There are many emotional scenes shot at the BiFF Square as well as the Jukseong Catholic Church in Gijang.

To ensure that these attractions are presented well to Asian fans, Korean officials also had a hand in developing the screenplay of the show.

Busan International Film Festival Square

South Korean actress Jeon Do Yeon at the Busan International Film Festival last year. Source: AP

See it at:
Busan International Film Festival

The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) Square is home to BIFF, one of most important film festivals in Asia that recognizes Asian directors and their works.

Established in 1996, the square is flanked by four movie theatres in Nampo-dong along with a performance stage, screening site and a shopping hub. It is also known as Busan’s Star Street where the hand-prints of famous movie industry celebrities decorate the venue grounds.

If you are in Busan between Oct 6 to 15 this year, don’t miss the BIFF 2016. Main events include the world premiere of highly anticipated films, master classes, open talks, and meet-and-greet sessions.