Who doesn’t love diving back into the 50s or 60s for inspiration? Yes, there are so many ways in which society is better today than it was half a century ago, but there are also elements of the past that seem impossibly lovely. In the last few years, Korean nostalgia has enjoyed a newfound popularity. From the popular “Reply” dramas (no, seriously, they’re so good, I tear up just thinking of them) to movies like Sunny, many have been looking back to Korea’s recent past with fondness. None of this is better seen than at the Suncheon Open Film Location.
A Note on Korean Nostalgia
There’s no denying South Korea underwent severe poverty following the Korean War and it had its own government and ideological struggles. You’ll see that all through the area, whether it’s in the outfits you can dress up in or the shabbiness of the buildings themselves. However, there’s a certain charm in those decades between 1953 and today. Yonhap calls it “Analog Nostalgia,” and Korea Times calls it “Retro Fever.” I’m sure anyone my age or older understands the appeal of past memories.
For Koreans, looking back feels especially poignant. The country is constantly changing with total abandon. My first graders have fully functioning smartphones, and I can scroll through my own on my local bus’s Wi-Fi. The famous K-pop groups of my teen years are now broken up or shadow versions of their former selves. Even the small restaurants I frequented as a college student in Seoul are long gone six years later. This country has spent so much time catching up to other first world nations, it’s as though now it’s ready to slow down and remember what makes Korea, Korea.
Visiting the Suncheon Open Film Location
A great place to revisit the past, as I mentioned earlier, is the Suncheon Open Film Location. Located in the neighborhood of Jorye-dong, the set was created for movies and dramas in 2006 and is now a popular attraction.
The village is split between three eras: 1950’s Suncheon, 1960’s Seoul Bongcheong-dong village, and 1970’s Seoul suburb.
If you want you can dress up in different school outfits. I’m not 100% sure what each outfit was, but we saw a few different variations. There was the leopard pajama style, the sailor school outfit, black school uniform, and the black army uniform. If you know, let me know! I’m going to ask my Korean friend when I see her next (searching “leopard pajama style Korea” unsurprisingly doesn’t bring up the desired results).
*Couldn’t get a photo of the white and black leopard pajamas
The whole course probably takes an hour or two of meandering, and it’s fun to see my generation running around taking photos in costume. It has to be a little surreal for the older generation who actually lived these sets to see their kids and grandkids reliving their own past! I think my favorite was seeing all the halmonis and harabeogis dancing to some golden Korean oldies in the set’s discotheque.
Anyhow, enough chatter, here are some more photos!
A Quick Guide to the Suncheon Open Film Location
This spot is most likely not going to be included on any set tours through the region. Most tours I looked up only stopped quickly at Suncheon Bay and moved to the next city. If you want to visit, you’re going to want to plan a visit by yourself. I recommend a weekend trip if you want to see more of Suncheon, including the bay and other nearby temples and villages. Check here for hotels nearby.
- Korean Name: 순천 드라마 촬영장
- Address: 전라남도 순천시 비례골길 24 (조례동)
- English Address: 24, Biryegol-gil, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do (Jorye-dong)
- Cost: 3,000 KRW (~$3)
- Open: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., last admission at 5:00 p.m.
How to Get There
- By Taxi – Just tell them, Suncheon Deu-rah-ma Seh-teu or show them the Korean written down. It’s one of the big things to do in Suncheon, and it sounds the same in English. It’s less than 15-minutes from the Bus Terminal and should only be around 6,000 KRW (~$6) depending on traffic
- By Local Bus – The bus stop is a little hard to find, but look for the Paris Baguette around the corner, and you’ll see it. The buses are 1,250 KRW (~$1)
- Buses 99-1 and 77 go to the 기독재활원 stop and take around 30-mins
- Bus 670 goes to the Drama Film Set (드라마촬영장) and takes around 30-mins as well.
- By Bike – So, Suncheon actually has its own bike program! I have no idea the costs or what to do as I haven’t tried it out myself yet, but you’ll see these orange bikes around and there are directions in English on how to rent them. If you want to bike, there’s a place to put them right in front of the film set, and it’ll take you 22 minutes or 5.6 km
** I highly recommend downloading either Naver Map or KakaoMap if you’re comfortable with Hangul! Google Maps is unreliable in Korea, and these are what Koreans use to navigate. I’m partial to KakaoMap on my phone but Naver on my laptop.
For Dramas + Movies Filmed Here
For More on Suncheon Travel
- Follow along with my #Korea series.
- Check out the Hedgers Abroad Guide to Yeosu, a nearby city
- Boseong Green Tea Fields are another nearby attraction
What are some of your favorite places to visit for nostalgia?
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