One of the most rewarding experiences I had during my travel to Seoul was the visit to MBC’s huge sageuk drama set, MBC Dramia (Yongin Dae Jang Geum Park).
Since it’s pretty close to the capital, it’s easily accessible and makes for an excellent way to spend the day. Just throw some snacks into your backpack and be ready to spend a whole day there. A little warning: there is no restaurant or food place on the premises, just a few small cafes, so you don’t forget to bring some food with you. The park is really big and you might want to use a map – there are maps available at the entrance to the filming set, at the ticket office. We arrived around noon and left with the last transfer bus at 5 PM.
To get there is very easy. We took the subway (from Anguk we took Line 3, Ogeum bound) to Nambu bus terminal (subway exit 5). There we bought bus tickets for Baekam (9000 KRW, bus departs from platform 18), and arrived there in about one hour (Baekam is the third stop – the stops are announced, so you only need to pay a bit of attention). The buses from Seoul to Baekam depart once in 25 minutes/half an hour so you don’t need to worry if you’ve just missed one. However, make sure to plan accordingly (if you want to save some KRW and take the bus from Baekam station to the park itself) and be there to match the bus schedule (posted here). Same goes for the buses from Baekam to Seoul (they are pretty frequent, but I would suggest checking the schedule on Naver Map. Their details are very accurate, and once you configure the route you can check the bus schedule by just tapping “Info”).
When you arrive in Baekam, don’t expect a big fancy bus station because you won’t see one. It’s rather a countryside station, that can easily pass unnoticed (same goes for the return station, which, although they call it a “bus terminal”, it is actually a blue small building. Bus 105 stops there, and the bus to Seoul also stops there. Make sure to double check when you board the return bus to Seoul, to be sure you are in the right one). The station where you arrive in Baekam is located right in front of Hanaro Pharmacy (that has a big yellow sign impossible to miss) and is also the departing point for bus 105 that takes the visitors straight to the park. We took a taxi (the taxi station is just a few steps away) since we didn’t want to waste more than half an hour waiting for the bus. The price was more than reasonable (9600 KRW) and we arrived in 15 minutes. The drivers don’t even have to speak English. Just say the magic word “MBC” (or Dae Jang Geum) and they will know where to take you.
Visiting the park (the price for the ticket was 7000 KRW) was like a travel back in time. MBC did a stellar job creating a historical corner of Korea, with houses (coming from different social standings), palaces (from different time periods and influences), marketplaces, everyday life objects, tools, and outbuildings, city walls, gates, gardens, ponds, even prisons. We were lucky enough to be almost the only visitors (except for 3 or 4 other tourists) in the entire space, so we could take lots of non-photobombed pictures). And it was really exciting to match the places with scenes in the dramas.
Many popular sageuk dramas were filmed there: Jewel in the Palace (Dae Jang Geum – that actually gives the name of the filming set), The Scholar Who Walks the Night, Empress Ki, Arang and the Magistrate, Dong Yi, The Moon Embracing the Sun, Jumong, Queen Seondeok, Flower in Prison (to name just a few). And the best part is that, unlike in a museum or a historical palace, here you are actually allowed to enter some houses, and to interact with the props (as long as you don’t damage any of them, of course). There is also a costume rental option (for 20.000 KRW) for those willing to spice up their visit and take prettier photos.
If you are a sageuk fan, this is definitely THE place to visit, since it will make you feel that you were teleported straight into your favorite dramas. If you are a Korean history fan, this is also THE place to visit, since everything is extremely accurate and well documented. Visiting the Dae Jang Geum filming set is a beautiful experience that makes you want to return there. I for one will definitely go again.