The influence of the Korean Wave (Hallyu) on international fans is something that cannot be ignored. Hallyu translates to “Korean wave”, and refers to the phenomenal growth in popularity of Korean popular culture across the world. This includes everything from music and movies to TV dramas, online games as well as Korean cuisine. Economists have also attributed the growth of the country’s economy thanks to the popularity of Korean pop culture across the world. As one of the biggest cultural phenomena across Asia, Hallyu has now led to K-pop and K-drama-based tours, that will take die-hard fans to the best K-pop/K-drama locations around the country.
Here Are Some Of The Most Famous K-pop/K-drama Locations That Will Turn All Your Hallyu Fantasies Into Reality
K-pop Lovers Must Head To K Star Road
Located on the road leading to the Cheongdam intersection from Apgujeong Rodeo Station, K-Star Road is an actual street that features a variety of K-pop artefacts, including a large toy called Gangnamdol. Usually bustling with energy and excitement, this road covers four zones across Sinsadong, Nonhyeondong to Cheongdamdong.
There are 17 art toy statues that are 1.5 metres high, representing different popular K-pop bands (from the early days of Hallyu stars — Super Junior, FT. Island, Girls Generation, and CNBLUE, as well as current heartthrobs EXO and BTS). The largest is a three-metre-high art toy representing K-Star Road. Tourists can take pictures with these dolls, which represent the cultural buzz that has hit Korea since the Korean wave. Along with the dolls, the street also features numerous other products and shops associated with the entertainment companies that have created K-pop bands and large amounts of bright merchandise.
Nearest Subway Station: Apgujeong Station
Meet Your Oppa At K-pop Idol Entertainment Buildings
Seoul is where all the major K-pop record labels and entertainment companies are located. If you walk along the roads marked with Gangnamdols, you will enter a quiet residential neighbourhood packed with major entertainment companies, including JYP Entertainment, S.M. Entertainment, and FNC Entertainment. You can’t miss these buildings as hordes of fans usually gather outside to meet their oppas (older brother, usually used to address boyfriends) and unnies (older sister). Who knows? If luck favours you, you just might catch a glimpse of your bias (a K-pop term that refers to someone’s favourite member in a K-pop band) in front of their entertainment building, or even meet them in real life!
Nearest Subway Station: Apgujeong Rodeo Station and Cheongdam Station
SMTOWN Museum For Your SM World!
South Korea’s largest entertainment company S.M. Entertainment has produced some of South Korea’s greatest K-pop groups such as Girl’s Generation, NCT 127, EXO, Super Junior, etc. And if you’re a fan of S.M. Entertainment idols, there’s no cooler place to stay connected to them than SMTOWN Museum. Located at the SMTOWN@coexartium in Gangnam, this museum combines art and technology to create the best environment for you to interact with the archives of the artists. Along with various exhibits, this cultural space allows you to learn the history of top K-pop artists, from where they started to where they are today. You can also see their albums, stage costumes, and experience sessions of augmented reality with K-pop artists. The museum has an open studio where they hold live broadcasts hosted by your favourite SM artists where you can participate as the audience.
Don’t forget to check out the SMTOWN Store for official merchandise and their cafe for unique food and drinks, created through collaborations between famous dessert brands and SM artists’ characters or album concepts.
Nearest Subway Station: Samseong Station
Shopping Paradise For K-pop Merch: Myeongdong Underground Shopping Mall
This treasure trove is the perfect spot for anyone who needs to buy albums and other K-pop merchandise from one single place. Located underneath Myeongdong station, the Myeongdong Underground Shopping Center connects the area of Myeongdong with the City Hall through an underground passage.
The densely packed shopping district is home to well-stocked music stores that offer CDs and DVDs, as well as a wide range of K-pop merchandise. The best part is that most of the things at these stores are sold slightly cheaper than anywhere else! One can shop in bulk, even items such as make-up, clothes, and souvenirs for loved ones back home.
Nearest Subway Station: Myeongdong Station
Snap K-drama Pictures At YongPyong Station
Remember the bridge where Sunny and the Grim Reaper first laid eyes on each other in the hit K-drama ‘Goblin: The Lonely and Great God’? Yep, that’s Yongdap Station Bridge. Also known as the Sageunyongdapganindogyo Bridge, and in K-drama slang the Grim Reaper Bridge. It’s located on Seoul Subway Line 2 and gifts you the most fantastic views of the city. Right below the bridge, tourists can also entertain themselves in its many activities and tourist sites. It’s dotted with art installations as well as a workout park.
Experience Marine Life At Aqua Planet 63
Part of 63 Square (also known as 63 Building), Aqua Planet 63 (formerly 63 Seaworld) is the second-largest aquarium in South Korea. The aquarium is a four-story building located in Yeosu, a city in the South Jeolla province. It features over 20,000 marine creatures of around 400 different species. If you are a K-drama fan, you will remember the place from ‘The Legend of the Blue Sea’. In episode three, Sim Chung comes here to meet Heo Joon-Jae and takes a swim in the aquarium (Joon-Jae really shows up at the aquarium in episode 4). He cannot remember her but saves her from the aquarium’s security guards and they both run out of the place. You can also watch several fantastic mermaid shows (swimmers performing an underwater show dressed as mermaids) in the aquarium every day.
360-degree Views Of Seoul From Seoul Tower Observatory
Namsan Seoul Tower, or Namsan Tower, is the first tower tourist spot in Korea. Right in the heart of Seoul, it’s both an observation and communication tower located at the top of Namsan Mountain. It’s the highest point in Seoul and therefore provides 360-degree views of the entire city. As a multicultural venue, the tower comprises N Seoul Tower Observatory, Hanbok Culture Experience Center, and many restaurants.
If you are a K-drama fanatic, you will remember the memorable scene from ‘Boys Over Flowers’ where Goo Jun-Pyo tells Geum Jan-di to come to the tower for a rendezvous. She doesn’t take it seriously, while he waits in the snow until she shows up in episode 4. Their date ends with them getting locked in the Namsan Cable Car and having to spend the night there. The best time to visit the tower is sunrise, sunset, or even at night when it lights up, making it a very romantic backdrop to any date.
How to get there: Take the bus from the closest subway station: Seoul Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 4)
Visit History And Nature At Nami Island And Petite France
Located in Gapyeong County, Nami Island, and Petite France are two of the three main tourist spots that have gained immense popularity due to their appearance in various Korean dramas like ‘Endless Love: Winter Sonata’, ‘My Love from Another Star’ and ‘I am Not a Robot’.
Namiseom Island is a half-moon-shaped isle, made up of tree-lined paths, waterside picnic spots, and nature-inspired sculptures and artwork. Located just 63 km from Seoul, the destination also serves as a historical site. It holds the grave of General Nami, who led a great victory against rebels in the 13th year of the 7th king of the Joseon Dynasty, King Sejo (reign 1455-1468).
How to reach Nami Island: Take a ferry from Gapyeong Ferry Wharf, or land in style by zip-lining across (do note that the zip-line is only one-way, and you’ll be leaving the island by ferry).
Located not very far from Nami Island, is Petite France, or little France, a thematic entertainment park that was constructed in July 2008 in Gyeonggi Province. It consists of French-style buildings, museums, workshops, restaurants, cafes and guesthouses. K-drama fans will easily recognise this location. This is where Go-Ho goes several times in ‘Gogh’s Starry Night/Gogh The Starry Night’, and where Kim Joo-won meets Gil Ra-im for the first time in ‘Secret Garden’.
The Blue Waters Of Jumunjin Beach
Located in the northernmost part of Gangneung, Jumunjin Beach is a medium-sized beach characterised by fine sand and unusually blue water. It is just a little over two hours from Seoul and is known to be a great destination for family vacations due to the beach’s shallow water. The beach itself serves as one of many K-drama/K-pop locations, and here are the most famous scenes it’s associated with:
- If you are an ARMY (the fanbase of BTS is called ARMY), you’ll recognise the beach from the BTS album ‘You Never Walk Alone’ as it was shot here. To go to the album cover location, you have to go to Jumunjin Beach first. Take a bus to the beach; right next to the bus stop is a sign indicating Jumunjin Beach, and on the other side of the street is a sign indicating the direction of the BTS album jacket location. Just follow that arrow for five minutes and you’ll see the album jacket bus stop.
- The unusually blue waters of Jumunjin Breakwater made it the perfect backdrop for the famous scene in ‘Goblin: The Lonely and Great God’ when Ji Eun-Tak accidentally summons Kim Shin. Since it appeared on the TV show, the beach has attracted throngs of fans eager to snap selfies on the famous site.
Would You Feel Like You Are Inside Your Fave K-pop Or K-drama Scene At These K-pop/K-drama Locations?
Would you even call yourself a true K-pop fan if you don’t own merch from your favorite K-pop band from their stores? Are you a K-drama-crazed fan? Do you need to hit the best K-drama filming locations here in South Korea? So, plan your trip around these awesome K-pop/K-drama locations that we have compiled just for you. Do keep in mind that you must respect the places and the people around you while following your fandom. Don’t litter and follow societal norms. Before visiting a new country, read up on their culture beforehand, so you don’t inadvertently disrespect anyone, a helpful link is given below. While this tour will take you around the Hallyu life, try and be respectful of your idol’s privacy as well.