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Visiting Yongin MBC Daejanggeum Park: A Sageuk Fan’s Wonderland

Sageuk (hangul: 사국) is a popular genre of Korean traditional period dramas, films and television series with history based plot lines. These are included among the main culprits of the Kdrama obsession in many countries.

Who will forget about Jewel in the Palace, Jumong, Dongyi, Empress Ki, Queen Seondeok, Moon Embracing the Sun, Scholar Who Walks the Night, Arang and the Magistrate, Moonlight Drawn by Clouds and so many others. But if you’re a fan of sageuks, an opportunity to visit the actual set of these drama is a MUST do in Korea and who knows you’ll be lucky enough to watch them shoot live.

But first, here’s a tiny bit of background:

Yongin MBC Daejanggeum Park, previously known as MBC Dramia, is an outdoor shooting set location
originally owned by Munwha Broadcasting Corporation (Yes, that’s MBC).

It is now co-owned by the city of Yongin, Gyeonggi-do and was renamed after “The Great Jang Geum”, the first known female royal
physician in Korean history and also the titular character in the MBC drama Jewel in the Palace, that is of
course shot in this location.

The two – hectare rural site was built in 2005 and opened to the public tourists for the first time in 2011.

How to get there:

  1. Go the Seoul Nambu Bus Terminal.
  2. Ride the Intercity Bus to Baek Am. It departs every 20 minutes from platform 18 and costs around
    4,500 won. This is the 3rd stop after Yang Ji and Jwa Jeon (You better remember that or you’ll end up in Jincheon). After about an hour of travel, you’ll arrive at the Baek Am Bus Stop, not a terminal, but a small waiting shed near a market of a small rural town. (Believe me, I was also surprised.)
  3. From the Bus Stop, you can either take the Bus line 105 to the site or take a Taxi. The bus arrival is very rare and takes the long way around so I highly advice you to just take the cab and ride the bus when you go back to Baek Am. Just tell the taxi driver that you want to go to Daejanggeum Park. The travel time is about 15 minutes and would cost you about 9,000 won.
  4. You’ll arrive in an isolated site literally within the farmlands and mountains of Yongin, Gyeonggi-do.
    Pay the entrance fee of 9,500 won and you’re ready to enjoy the site at your own schedule.
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What to Remember:

  1. There are a few and virtually no staff around the site to serve as tourist guides. You can roam the site as you please but be wary of your surroundings. It is located in the mountain area so there are ditches and slopes around. Also, you can end up in the actual mountain forest if you lose your way. The site also closes at 6:00 PM and 5:00 PM during winter. It is best to know the bus schedule. I think the last trip of the Bus leaves at 4:30 PM. There are hardly no taxi around so missing the bus home would be really troublesome (and scary) right?
The entry gate of the site
  1. There are a lot of character standees and old props lying around the site and your free to take pictures and to touch them (this is not allowed in museums). But of course, remember to use them with care.
Props are just lying aroung waiting to be used as photo-op props
There are also character standees for you to take pictures with
  1. It is possible to visit the site while they are filming inside (Yes, I was lucky enough to visit there during
    the filming of Flower in Prison). They will be posting a sign at the ticketing booth if there is an ongoing filming. (Tip: visit the site on a weekday and when there is an ongoing MBC sageuk and the chances will be high). However, they will not tell you where on the two-hectare site is the actual filming happening (Trust me, I asked) But based on my. experience, I give you 3 wise words: Follow the Wires (Yes, as in electric cable wires of their generators. LoL)
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There are filming inside the room while some supporting casts wait outside.
Don’t ask for his identity, I also cannot recognize him from this photo. He’s a cast of Flower in Prison, that I am sure.

Walkthrough of the Site:

The site is big enough to enjoy for a whole day and is filled with various setups that will have you guessing which drama scenes were shot there. Worry not, there are signage guides to reveal the answer. As for the whole site, we can divide it in five parts: the Dae Jang Geum Theme Park, the Capital town, the Palace, the Military camp and the Rural town.

The Dae Jang Geum Theme Park

This is a recent addition to the site and also the main reason why the site is renamed. Apparently, besides from the scenes of Jewel in the Palace that was shot here, MBC used to have another film set in Yangjoo. However, that set closed down so they rebuilt it here instead. You can find here the actual set of the kitchen and quarters in the drama Jewel in the Palace. There are also costumes, props and
standees around.

The Capital Town

The Capital town can be subdivided into three more areas: the market, noble residences and the
peasant residences.

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Imagine this street being filled with street vendors, now that’s the typical sageuk market scene.
A sample set of market apothecary where herbs and medicines can be bought.
Someone’s house, possibly a merchant
Noble houses usually have wooden gates and obviously larger than other houses.
A typical peasant house that we might have seen on various sageuk drama
One of those nooks and crannies where characters chase and hide each other.

The Palace

The biggest part of the site is mainly composed of the palace sets. Probably because it is hard to film on the actual palaces such as the Gyeongbokgung Palace so they will have to settle with replicas. We can divide the Palace area into six main parts: The Gate, Quarters, Halls, Pavilions, Prison and the Palace Square.

One of the many gates around the Palace area.
The different rooms that can be found in the area. However, most of the doors are either fixed or cannot be entered unless there is a filming.

The pavilions and quarters above are of Goryeo style architecture which is more earth colored compared to the bright red and colorful Joseon style architecture.

The Joseon styled architecture of halls, pavilions and quarters that I was talking about before.

Remember this Pavilion? This is the Eunwolgak (Secret Moon Pavillion) featured in the drama Moon Embracing the Sun where many of the important scenes between the lead characters were shot.

Of course, there’s always a prison cell complete with the “trial area”
Another Moon Embracing the Sun reference but, remember that rebellion scene on the last episode? This was shot here, a replica of the Gyeongbeokgung Palace Square.

The Military Camp

The military base was very realistic so I would say, a bit scary. See for yourself.

There is a grand stand and open area / arena where military drills and trainings takes place.
The area is like a big cage so maybe that’s why it’s so intimidating.

The areas in the pictures above are pretty new as they are the current set built for the drama Flower in Prison.

The Rural Town

When the king usually takes a secret excursion on the nearby towns, these sets are used for a change. The mountains in the background helps in making them more rural – looking.

Wider roads gives the area a feel of being in the country side.
Even the market place have wide roads.
Structures are also built in harmony of streams and rivers.
But if you need to visit the Capital, the Capital Gate is just a stone – throw away.

I visited this place in 2016 so there might be some changes and addition to the site. I also visited this alone while my friends went shopping in Myeongdong. But actually, this was my favorite part of the whole trip and I would definitely go there again next time complete with a hanbok attire and a good camera.

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