Saturday, May 6, 2017

Adventures of a K-Drama Ajumma

“Adventures of a K-Drama Ajumma”
Sun.Star Davao, May 6, 2017

“Just one more episode”, I tell myself. Then, that one becomes two, then three….

If you asked me years ago if I would spend my precious free time watching Korean dramas (K-Dramas), I would probably say no. But, now, I take it back!

Ever since my last trip to Korea in 2015, I have been hooked and it seems irreversibly good. Suddenly, long appointments with clinics and waiting for the kids’ school dismissal do not feel like forever as long as I have my series with me. 

Unlike our Pinoy telenovelas which could go on for years if the ratings are high, K-Dramas only last for 16 to 20 episodes. Thus, each episode is fascinating and straight-to the-point. The endearing lead actors and actresses make you swoon like a high schooler; the wide array of food appears addictingly appetizing; and the catchy soundtrack stays in your memory even with zero comprehension.

During our recent family trip to the Land of the Morning Calm, we just had to squeeze in the K-Drama experience in our already jampacked itinerary.

Soju tent

Celebrating my post-birthday dinner at a soju (a Korean liquor usually distilled from rice or sweet potato) tent in Myeongdong was such a surreal experience. 

We savored our soju with udon, green onion pancake, stir-fried squid and rolled omelette, amidst the sociable banter of Seoul office workers relaxing after work. 

Afterwards, my hubby had no choice but to give in to the birthday girl’s piggy back request, a must-do for K-Drama husbands/boyfriends if their female partners had a drink too many. I was completely sober though and just wanted to tease the hubby for photo ops.

Garden of the Morning Calm

            After visiting the enchanting Petite France and Nami Island (which I have featured previously in my 2015 article, “Seoulful Summer”), followed by the picturesque Gapyeong Rail Park ride, our final stop at the breathtaking Garden of the Morning Calm in time for sunset was truly magical.

            “Love in the Moonlight” and “She Was Pretty” were just some of the hit K-Dramas filmed here. Who wouldn’t fall in love with this oldest private garden in Korea? With twenty different themed sections brimming with captivating flowers, assortment of trees and precisely manicured grass, no wonder this garden ranks among the favorite choices when shooting romantic dating or picnic scenes for K-Dramas.

Goblin’s bridge

            “Goblin”, the second highest rated drama in Korean cable television history, stars Gong Yoo of “Train to Busan” fame. The overhead bridge at Yongdap Station was one of the most often used places in the series. It was where Grim Reaper first met Sunny (not Sun Hee!) and the mysterious deity encountered chaebol heir Deok-Hwa.

            The Yongdap Station is among the farthest and last stops of Korail’s subway line. So, when we arrived there, it was quite isolated. This gave us a fabulous opportunity to do an hour-long photo shoot with the family, without photobombers lurking in the background.

                            Earlier, we passed by Duksung Women’s University where the façade of Goblin’s mansion was filmed. However, the guard showed us an English sign that stated they were no longer accepting visitors at the campus. Due to the immense popularity of “Goblin”, the campus had a heavy influx of visitors disturbing the privacy not only of the graduate school students but the pupils of the Un Hyun Kindergarten and Elementary School as well.

Bok Chicken

            “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo” filmed a lot of memorable scenes at Bok Chicken, the fabled restaurant run by Bok Joo’s dad Kim Chang-gul and his aspiring actor-uncle Kim Dae-ho.

            The real restaurant is named Jageun Maeul, just a walking distance from Kookmin University (not the filming location of WFKBJ though). 

           Sadly, the real resto does not serve fried chicken but nevertheless, the affordable student meal was surprisingly one of the tastiest we had during the trip. Because the owner did not understand English, I approached a friendly university student for his recommendation. We enjoyed the Spicy Kimchi Pork Belly Fried Rice and adored the generous side dishes. Swaaag!

‘Legend of the Blue Sea’ house

            It turns out that Heo Joon-jae’s (Lee Min-ho) house (exterior part) in “Legend of the Blue Sea” at Sogong-ro 4 gil street was very accessible from our Nine Tree Hotel in Myeongdong.

            Imagine leaning on the very same wooden door and stepping on the stairs where Lee Min-ho and Jun Ji-hyun filmed the top-rating show!

            It totally amazes me how the Korean drama production team would patiently search for filming locations to give fans the best viewing experience. I wondered how many times would they go over to a place to shoot the exterior scenes. Or, because the series was just so well-planned, they already efficiently scheduled all the shots required for the scenes. This made me so curious. Can anyone enlighten me? Certified K-Drama addict problems…Hahaha!
Dobong Walnut Bakery

            Our family just gushes over “Strong Woman Do Bong-soon”. We absolutely love the effortless chemistry of Herculean super girl Do Bong-soon and charming gaming developer CEO Ahn Min-hyuk.

            In the series, Do Bong-soon’s family owns the Dobong Walnut Bakery. 

            The actual shop is a cozy café named Plate B situated in a quiet neighborhood, much similar to the K-Drama’s Dobong-do. 

              As you step out of the café, the Namsan Seoul Tower could be seen from afar. Parked at the corner was a truck manned by an old lady selling a variety of mouthwatering side dishes for takeout.

            We were thrilled upon seeing the walnut pie (still whole!) and its iconic packaging at the counter. After a few poses, we ordered three slices of the pie and sipped our cold drinks that unforgettable lazy afternoon.

            My third and latest trip to Korea was, so far, my most relatable experience. Visiting the Namsan Seoul Tower, drinking hot choco at Dal.komm Café, indulging in street food, barbeque, chicken and beer, commuting via the subway and bus, and many more, became extra special ever since I became a full-fledged K-Drama ajumma!


                    E-mail the author at

                     Read my previous article, "Seoulful Summer" (May 9, 2015), for 
          more of our family's Seoul adventures!

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