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Filming Location of the Movie “Secretly, Greatly” - Incheon Sipjeong-dong Yeorumul-gil

Filming Location of the Movie “Secretly, Greatly”
Incheon Sipjeong-dong Yeorumul-gil

Photo: Cheerful drawings painted on the stairs
and the walls of a narrow alley

The friendly neighborhood from the film “Secretly, Greatly” is just as it is in the real life. Friendly smiles and simple lifestyles pervade the district of Sipjeong-dong in Incheon. This article gives you a glimpse of Sipjeong-dong’s Yeorumul-gil Street, the main setting used for the movie.

Sandongne (impoverished mountainside neighborhood), the Village Idiot Dong-gu’s Home

Photo: Located on the foot of a mountain, Sipjeong-dong’s streets are mostly made up of narrow alleys and stairs

The film “Secretly, Greatly” begins with the scene showing village kids throwing stones at the protagonist Won Ryu-hwan. The backdrop for this scene is Sipjeong-dong in Bupyeong-gu, Incheon, so called because it is said that there were ten wells (Sipjeong in Chinese characters or Yeorumul in Korean) here a long time ago. Although Incheon is a bustling city, Sipjeong-dong has quite the opposite atmosphere. The neighborhood resembles a peaceful village in the countryside.

To reach Sipjeong-dong, get off at Baegun Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), go out of Exit 2 and take Bus 10, 23, or 35 in front of Bupyeong Library. Get off at the Taxation High School stop (7 min; 2 stops), then walk for about 150 meters and go in the alley next to Kumho Aullim Apartment . Further down the alley is a small grocery and stationery store. Turning right from the store will lead right into the area characterized by a long flight of stairs and densely-clustered houses along a narrow alley. The paintings and murals on the concrete stairs and walls are eye-catching. For several years since 2005, the neighborhood of Sipjeong-dong has been renovated little by little as part of the “Yeorumul-gil Project.” As a result, many of the run-down and empty houses are still quite noticeable.

“Secretly, Greatly” features a group of North Korean spies: Won Ryu-hwan (played by Kim Soo-hyun), Rhee Hae-rang (played by Park Ki-woong), and Rhee Hae-jin (played by Lee Hyun-woo), each disguised as a village fool, an aspiring singer, and a high school student, respectively. The movie tells the story of the three spies gradually assimilating to life in the small village.

A Space of Imagination inside the Alley

Walking past the narrow stairway by the roadside, a mural with the words “No Scribbling (낙서금지)” written on it will catch one’s eye. It’s not an elaborate painting but it depicts the everyday lives and simple dreams of the locals. A few more steps from here will lead to a small alley to the side. In the movie, Sipjeong-dong is more than just a backdrop as it serves as the emotional foundation of the movie. It is where the three spies, who have nowhere to go back, rely on each other and live on. The actual images of the village have been directly reflected in the movie. Yeorumul-gil is the place to be if you are looking for some old and familiar scenes of daily life.

In front of Seoki Grocery Store, the Center of the Movie

Photo: A smile icon of Dong-gu drawn on the building next to Seoki Grocery Store

Yeorumul-gil Street in Sipjeong-dong is an uphill path with closely-built houses. The road in front of Seoki Grocery Store (석이슈퍼) is one of the places that often appeared in the movie. This where the movie’s main character, Dong-gu, would start his day by greeting the townspeople while falling over convincingly for all to see. However, Seoki Grocery Store does not currently exist. It was a set built for filming and was torn down after the filming ended. Remnants of the filming can mostly be found on the hillside along Yeorumul-gil. A mural reminiscent of Dong-gu’s appearance from behind, wearing green slippers and a navy track suit, was drawn anonymously on the village wall during the latter stages of shooting.

A Humble Neighborhood Radiating with Warmth

Photo: Village walls decorated with flowers and drawings, an alley that leads to the top of the stairs, giving a panoramic view of the village.

On one side of the wall lining the uphill crossroad, there is a village map marked with locations of the mural paintings. The village map helps in getting around the maze-like alleys. The alley along the mural of Dong-gu’s back leads to a fan shape mural and the pinwheel stairway (바람개비 계단) with pinwheels drawn on the steps. A variety of small and large murals have been drawn on the telephone poles and walls throughout the village alleys. At the very top of the uphill path is the pinwheel stairway, a location just as significant as Seoki Grocery Store in the movie. Climb up the pinwheel stairway to see a small field created on an empty lot and turn around for a panoramic view of the village. From the village entrance to the hilltop, there is no spot in this village that Dong-gu has not passed by. Head to Sipjeong-dong in Incheon to explore a friendly neighborhood and enjoy a leisurely travel in the bustling city!

More Info
Getting to Sipjeong-dong Alleyway

Baegun Station (Subway Line 1), Exit 2 → Take Local Bus 10, 23, or 35 in front of Bupyeong Library → Get off at Taxation High School (세무고등학교) → Walk for about 150 meters into the alley next to Kumho Aullim Apartment (금호어울림아파트)

* The above article is a revised and edited version of the Korean article.
Courtesy of Korean Tourism Organization Korean Website
Original Column URL:

Date 11/05/2013

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