The King: Eternal Monarch was a feast for the eyes. I mean, every Korean drama is! But this one took us to some very iconic spots in South Korea.
While other K-dramas pushed me to explore unknown streets and quirky cafes, The King gave new meaning to classic tourist destinations, many of which I’ve been to more than once! Imagine my excitement every time a place I have already visited and loved suddenly popped up on screen!
They brought back a lot of beautiful memories and made me wish I could fly to Seoul right now, if not for this never-ending pandemic. But I’m still grateful that I was able to explore these places when I had the chance.
Here’s a rundown of some of The King’s filming locations that are also famous tourist spots in South Korea – a mini tour of Seoul, Jeonju, Yeosu, and Busan!
The King Episode 2
Gwanghwamun Square: That first hug
Episode 2 pa lang gumaganyan na kayo! This shot literally made my heart jump! Honestly, I’ve been to Seoul 7 times and never cared much for Gwanghwamun Square. “It’s too mainstream,” I always think. But after this episode, I think I’m gonna head straight to Gwanghwamun the next time I’m in Seoul! Ang says sana kung may oppa na rin na kasama to re-enact this hug!
Tip: If you walk the other way (behind the camera), you will find an underground exhibit about the life and legend of King Sejong the Great. It’s a great way to get to know the story behind the statue (which was also featured in The King, but in Busan!).
How to go:
Take the Seoul Metro to Gyeongbokgung Station (Exit 6/7). Walk towards the direction of KEB Bank. Or you can also get off at Gwanghwamun Station (Exit 1/2/8).
Royal Portrait Museum: Lee Gon explores
Lee Gon (Lee Min Ho), with his brilliant mind, realized without much surprise that he traveled to a parallel universe in episode 2.
While getting to know this other world (and their history), he visited the Royal Portrait Museum in Jeonju, a place so lovely I had to visit it twice.
Jeonju is a slow city 3 hours south of Seoul. It has a beautiful hanok village that has a very colorful history. Aaaand you can tour it while wearing a hanbok! The Royal Portrait Museum is part of Gyeonggijeon Shrine, which can be found in the Hanok Village.
Took the photo below on one nostalgic afternoon back in 2017. Who knew Lee Min Ho would one day be walking this hallway!
How to go:
From Seoul Nambu Bus Terminal, take a 3-hour bus to Jeonju. From Jeonju Intercity/Express Bus Terminal, take Bus No. 5-1 or 79. Get off at Jeondong Cathedral (Hanok Village) Bus Stop.
Alternatively, you can take the train (KTX or Mugunghwa) from Yongsan to Jeonju (2-3 hours). From Jeonju Station, take Bus No. 12, 60, 79, 109, 119, 142, 508, 513, 536 or 542. Get off at Jeondong Cathedral (Hanok Village) Bus Stop.
The King Episode 5
Gwangan Bridge: One of Corea’s Icons
Gwangan Bridge was shown several times in the series, as it should be! With Busan as the capital of the Kingdom of Corea, it is only right that they show one of the city’s most beautiful sights in all its glory!
The photo below was taken during a beautiful summer night in Dongbaek Island in 2016. It was our last night in Busan and we didn’t want to leave. Gwangan Bridge was so hypnotizing, and the waves below seemed to be lulling us into complete surrender. One of my most memorable nights in Korea EVER.
You can also view Gwangan Bridge from Gwangalli Beach. Best done with a beer and your choice of Korean snacks!
How to go:
It depends on where you want to see this from! This view is from Dongbaek Island, which is a 15 to 30-minute walk from Haeundae (the main tourist area in Busan). If you’re coming elsewhere from Busan, you can take the Metro to Dongbaek Island Station.
If you’re heading for Gwangalli Beach, take the Busan Metro to Geumryeon Station (Exit 1/3). Make a u-turn and turn on the first street toward the beach. If you get lost, just ask around. Busan has some of the kindest people in Korea!
Yeosu Expo Station: Aka Busan CTX Station
Remember when Jung Tae-eul first arrived at the Kingdom of Corea? She took the CTX supposedly from Busan to Seoul.
But this is actually the KTX station in Yeosu! Another scene that made my heart race haha! “Teka lang… hindi ‘to Busan!”
Went here in summer of 2017. Was scorching hot but also drizzling, so I found cover here at the Yeosu Expo Station. Yeosu is a coastal town in Korea’s southern tip and this station was made for an international Expo held here in 2012. Hinding hindi ko rin makakalimutan na matindi ang pagtakbo ko dito para umabot sa KTX leaving early morning. Kung naiwan ako, lunch time na ang next trip! Umabot naman, buzzer beater!
This isn’t exactly a destination for foreign tourists and I was asked by a lot of locals how I knew about Yeosu. The answer? Running Man!
How to go:
Take the KTX from Yongsan to Yeosu (3 hours). Alternatively, you can take the bus from Seoul Express Bus Terminal to Yeosu (5 hours).
Gamcheon Culture Village: Lee Lim’s recruit
I honestly haven’t seen this filming location mentioned in any other blog, but I’m pretty sure those colorful houses behind her are from Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan.
This is our first glimpse of how Lee Lim (Lee Jung Jin) actually “recruits” people to replace their counterparts in the other world.
Gamcheon is one of Busan’s most iconic places. And I loved that even for a fleeting scene like this, the series still used an important location as their backdrop.
I’ve been to Gamcheon twice before – summer of 2016 and autumn of 2018. Loved it more in summer! Busan is another coastal town and it’s for walking barefoot in the sand or spending late nights by the beach. Winter and autumn? TOO DAMN COLD.
How to go:
Take the Busan Metro to Goejeong Station (Exit 6). Then transfer to a bus (Sakha 1 or Sakha 1-1). Get off at Gamcheon Elementary School Bus Stop.
The King Episode 9
Haeundae Square, Busan: Where grown-up Lee Gon meets Lee Lim
Remember that time Lee Gon realized his uncle hasn’t aged after 2 decades? He found him here at Haeundae Square, a food and art street in Busan.
Now my version isn’t exactly a good photo haha! I was surprised I actually have one! Haeundae Square is a relatively new hotspot (it wasn’t there yet when we first visited in 2016).
Forgive my shaky hands! Took this shot at 3°, 1AM, after I was locked out of my hostel for the first time in forever! Arrived from Seoul past midnight and apparently, they don’t accept check-ins after 10PM. But it ended up being a great experience. Spent the night (half-sleeping, half-writing) in a 24-hour cafe here at Haeundae Square. Party-goers continuously went in and out of the cafe until I left at 6:30AM!
How to go:
Take the Busan Metro to Haeundae Station (Exit 5/7).
The King Episode 12
Centum City, Busan: That epic rescue
I hate damsels in distress and Jung Tae Eul was far from one. But damn, this rescue scene made me want to be rescued haha!
This scene was filmed in Busan’s Centum City Area – consists of Busan Cinema Center, Shinsegae Busan (the biggest department store in the world!), and Korea News Network. We visited all these one night in 2016. But who’d have thought its streets will one day be used in a drama??
So ito pilit na pilit na po tayo. But I believe that rescue scene happened a few meters lang to the left of this frame hahahaha! Basta sure ako nadaanan ko ‘yun habang namamasyal dito!
But seriously, y’all should visit Busan at least once in your lifetime. It’s a more laidback version of Seoul and with people who enjoy a slower pace. I still prefer the Busan I visited in 2016, back when there were still very few tourists. But the new, more touristy Busan isn’t all that bad – if you know where to go!
How to go:
Take the Busan Metro to Centum City (BEXCO) Station (Exit 6/12). Walk straight for about 10 minutes.
The King Episode 13
Busan Cinema Center: Lee Lim’s in Corea
The shot below shows Lee Lim looking at King Lee Gon’s portrait. I think this was at the height of his planning for his comeback. In front of the portrait are Busan Cinema Center and its 160-meter long LED ceiling.
I remember getting a glimpse of this in one of the earlier episodes too!
This is another one of my favorite spots in Busan! I wasn’t able to see it from this angle, but we played in the cinema center itself for hours. I personally enjoyed lying on a bench, just looking up at all those lights and colors!
Yup! This shot basically sums up how I felt every time I saw a familiar place in The King. Can’t wait to be able to go back to Korea and hopefully visit Jung Tae-eul’s house!
How to go:
Take the Busan Metro to Centum City (BEXCO) Station (Exit 6/12). Walk straight for about 12 minutes.