Photo: Ojukheon's Sajumun Gate
The historical drama “Saimdang, Light’s Diary” is planned to premier January 2017, but is already drawing hot attention, due to the casting of hallyu stars Song Seung-heon and Lee Young Ae; this drama is Lee’s biggest drama role since appearing in the internationally popular “Dae Jang Geum (2003).” The new drama tells the love and art story of Shin Saimdang, the most well-known artist of Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), and the original hyeonmoyangcheo, a good wife and wise mother. Alternating between the past and modern times, this fusion historical drama casts Lee Young Ae as two characters, playing Saimdang in the past and a university professor today.
As the drama is surrounded by hype, the filming sites and nearby attractions are also at the receiving end of public attention. Take a tour of these sites to walk in the footsteps of Lee Young Ae as she plays Shin Saimdang in “Saimdang, Light’s Diary.”
Photo: Ojukheon House (left) / Statue of Shin Saimdang (right)
Ojukheon House is the house Shin Saimdang was born in during the Joseon Dynasty. The maiden home of Shin Saimdang is registered as National Treasure No. 165, and plays a huge role in the filming of "Saimdang, Light's Diary." A film clip has been released of Lee Young Ae's modern-day character Seo Ji-yoon on the stairs leading to Sajumun Gate, the main gate of Ojukheon House. In addition to this, additional scenes have been filming throughout Ojukheon House.
The connection between Ojukheon House and Lee Young Ae goes way back beyond the filming of "Saimdang, Light's Diary." After Lee's marriage, the place she visited to pray for children was none other than Ojukheon House. Shortly thereafter, she became the mother to beautiful twins.
Photo: Paintings in the Chochungdo style created by Shin Saimdang (left) / Artifacts of Yulgok Yi I (right)
Yulgok Memorial Hall can be seen to the left before climbing the stairs before Sajumun Gate to Ojukheon House. The hall displays artwork from Shin Saimdang and books and other artifacts from Yulgok Yi I, a famous scholar of the Joseon Dynasy, and Shin Saimdang’s son. Before leaving, stop by Ojukheon House & Ojukheon Municipal Museum, located nearby, for a quick look around.
TIP. Shin Saimdang & Yulgok Yi I as seen on Korean currency
Shin Saimdang is the woman portrayed on the 50,000 won bill. She is famous for her outstanding talent in writing poems and painting, as well as for raising her son to be a great man. Her son, Yulgok Yi I was one of the greatest scholars of his time, and is featured on the 5,000 won bill.
Photo: Landscape of Seongyojang House
Seongyojang House is the most well-preserved nobleman's house in the Gangwon-do region. The house is a representative household of the upper class of Joseon Dynasty, and was built in the 1700's by Lee Naebeon, a descendant of the prince. The site was considered a very good place to build a house, and has been inhabited by Lee's descendants until current times.
Photo: Hwallaejeong Hall
At the entrance of Seongyojang House is Hwallaejeong Hall, a pavilion built above a man-made lotus pond. The hall served as a relaxing location for scholars of the era to spend their leisure time. The lotus pond and pine trees have a harmony that sends out the feeling of looking upon the beauty of traditional Korea. In summer, the view is even more stunning, as the pond is field with large lotus leaves and beautiful lotus flowers standing tall on thin stalks.
Visitors hoping for a more inclusive experience can spend the night thanks to Seongyojang House's Hanok Stay program. Participants have the choice between the tile-roofed Hongyeheon House or a thatched roof house. The houses are built with natural materials such as wood and mud, providing all the excitement of a traditional hanok, while featuring the conveniences of a modern kitchen and restroom, making this experience quite popular. After general visitors leave, those staying in the hanok can enjoy a quieter and more peaceful time. Walking around the calm courtyard at sunset is a memory not easily forgotten.
TIP. Tourist Attractions near Gangneung
Photo: Gyeongpodae Pavilion (left) / Gyeongpoho Lake as seen from Gyeongpodae Pavilion (right)
Gyeongpodae Pavilion is located atop a hill on the northern side of Gyeongpoho Lake. Originally built in 1326 during the Goryeo Dynasty, the pavilion was moved to its current location in 1508, during the Joseon period. After many changes, the pavilion attained its current appearance.
The pavilion is open to all, providing the perfect place to relax. Take off your shoes before entering the pavilion to enjoy the cooling breeze blowing in from the ocean. The fatigue of traveling will fall away as your eyes take in the view of Gyeongpoho Lake and the ocean stretching out to the horizon beyond.
Photo: Soy bean sculpture at the entrance to Chodang Dubu Village (left) / Chodang Sundubu (right)
If you visit Gangneung, you must try Chodang Sundubu, a local specialty of soft tofu. Chodang Sundubu is made like other tofu, by grinding soy beans but differs in the use of fresh sea water for the solidification process, creating an extremely smooth tofu with a strong taste. The most typical menu is sundubu-jeongsik. The soft tofu served with a bit of soy seasoning allows one to really taste the original flavor of Chodang Sundubu. For a more diverse taste of the local specialty, try dubu-jeongol (tofu hot pot), jjamppong sundubu (spicy seafood dish with soft tofu) or any of the other dishes created with Chodang Sundubu.
Photo: Gangchon Rail Park exterior design of large books (top) / Railbike passing through a tunnel (bottom left) / Railbike course along Bukhangang River (bottom right)
Gangchon Rail Park is home to the nation's longest railbike course. The course stretches a total of 8.5km between Gimyujeong Station and Gangchon Station on a defunct train line. The most popular course allows one to take in the beautiful scenery along the Bukhangang River. The tracks guide the bike past fields and forest, as well as through a train tunnel. The tunnel has beautiful twinkling lights and music playing for a full experience. For an even more mysterious time, join the early morning departure to see the mist rising off of the river below.
Enjoy the scenery as you pedal around 6km from Gimyujeong Station to the rest area. When you arrive, you can get off your railbike and buy some snacks. In a short while, the Romantic Train will arrive to take riders the remaining 2.5km.
Railbikes are like regular bicycles in that the speed is controlled by the pedals and a hand-brake is used to stop the bike, making it easy for everyone to enjoy. It is important to note that for safety, a minimum distance of 10m from the foregoing railbike should be kept at all times.
Photo: Gimyujeon Closed Station transformed into a tourist attraction
Gimyujeong Station was a fully operational train station until December 2010, when a new metropolitan train line was installed nearby, with a brand new Gimyujeong Station being built. The old station and train line were discontinued, and the old Gimyujeong Station was transformed into a nostalgic tourist attraction.
The various sculptures and photo spots are very popular among the younger crowd. A few old train cars left at the station have been converted into a book café, great for taking a rest. Many people also enjoy taking photos on the train tracks, a safe action now that no trains use the rails here. Gimyujeong Closed Station is located just next to Gangchon Rail Park. Stop here for some souvenir snapshots after riding on the railbike!
Photo: People enjoying canoeing (Credit: Mullegil Partnership)
Mulle-gil is a waterway allowing one to take in the beautiful scenery of Bukhangang River. The largest draw to visiting Mulle-gil is the chance to spend a romantic time canoeing in Uiamho Lake. The attraction is big enough to draw in countless numbers of visitors from the city, despite the distance. Mulle-gil is perfect for canoeing, as the waters of Uiamho Lake are calm, reflecting the surrounding mountains. Canoe rental times start on the hour, and visitors should arrive 10 minutes before to receive simple safety instructions in order to enjoy canoeing more fully. The beginner’s course, Sky Walk-gil Trail, covers roughly 3km and takes about one hour. Visitors on this course can enjoy Uiamho Lake Skywalk observatory, Uiam Dam, and Samaksan Mountain.
Photo: Animation Museum
Animation Museum was opened in 2003 to discover, repair, protect, display, and research all things related to animation. The museum displays the history of not only Korean animation but also animation from around the world. The exhibits are broken down into various topics, allowing one to look more deeply into the origin and creation of animation, the various genres, creation techniques, the process of creation and more.
The museum has many programs available for a unique experience, including watching a 4D animation, creating animation sound effects, dubbing, filming a stop-motion animation using dolls and more.
Photo: Robot Studio exterior (top) / Robot Dance performance (bottom left) / Drone exhibition room (bottom right)
Robot Studio is an experience center dedicated to robots as toys, advanced technology, and artificial intelligence. Relive the innocence of childhood by playing with toy robots, controlling RC cars, or even flying a drone, the newest robot sensation drawing attention worldwide. Other ways to enjoy the studio include watching a robot dance performance and escaping a laser maze just like a bodyguard out of a movie.
Photo: Night scene at Gongjicheon Stream (left) / Chuncheon Lake Starlight Nation (right)
Gongjicheon Stream’s night scene is one of Chuncheon’s most romantic locations. The area around the stream includes Gongjicheon Sculpture Park, decorated with sculptures of all shapes and sizes, as well as a fountain, grass plaza, outdoor theater, Ethiopian Armed Forces Memorial, and more. Visitors can also take to the water on boats from the dock throughout the year, excluding the winter season. Another exciting aspect of the evenings here is the Chuncheon Lake Starlight Nation Festival, which lights up the stream banks for an even more romantic ambiance.
TIP. Tourist Attractions near Chuncheon
Photo: Soyanggang Skywalk
Soyanggang Skywalk is an observatory structure built atop Uiamho Lake. With a total length of 174m, it is the longest skywalk in Korea, and has a total of 156 meters of clear glass offering up the thrilling feeling of walking on water. It can feel quite scary to know just a pane of glass is holding you up, but there is no need to fear. The glass used is extremely thick and strong enough to hold even 7,000 people at one time.
Cloth shoe covers are ready to put on at the entrance to Soyanggang Skywalk. These protective shoe covers are a requirement for all visitors in order to keep the glass free from scratches. After enjoying the skywalk, the shoe covers are returned at the entrance for the next guest to wear.
Photo: Commemorative statue at Soyanggang Dam (left) / Soyangho Lake (right)
Soyanggang Dam is the largest dam in Korea, creating a man-made lake of over 2.9 billion tons of water. The lake is a very popular attraction for the beautiful scenery one can enjoy here. Visitors can get an even closer approach to the lake by taking a ride on the Soyangho Lake Ferry. Courses include a simple trip around the entire lake, as well as a ferry heading for Cheongpyeongsa Temple. The Cheongpyeongsa Temple course includes a roughly 4km-long one-way boat ride to the dock, and a further 30 minute walk to the temple. This course is extremely popular among visitors, as it offers a chance to enjoy the lake, mountain, and temple in one trip.
Photo: Sign for Myeongdong Dakgalbi Street (top) / Dak-galbi (bottom left) / Mak-guksu (bottom right)
Chuncheon Myeongdong Dakgalbi Street was formed in the 1950’s and is now one of the most famous food-themed streets in the nation. Dak-galbi is a stir-fried dish made of chicken mixed with a spicy seasoning and fried on a large pan with various vegetables, including plenty of chopped cabbage. The kick of the spicy seasoning goes well with the tenderness of chicken for a taste that is loved by all. These days it’s even easy to see foreigners visiting Chuncheon just to enjoy this delicious meal. The warmth of dak-galbi also goes great when eaten alongside the refreshingly cool mak-guksu.
* This column was last updated in October 2016, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details from the official websites before visiting.
<Last updated on October 11, 2016>