If there's one good thing to come out of 2020's mostly indoor lifestyle, it's that the world is finally hopping aboard the K-drama train.
With cliffhangers in nearly every episode, swoon-worthy romance scenes, intense plot twists, and a promise of at least one love traingle (or square) per show, Korean dramas make for some of the most addictive viewing on Netflix. And don't even get us started on the scenery.
If, after staying up until 2:00am binge-watching and clutching a box of Kleenex, you've dreamed of stepping into the shoes of your favourite K-drama star, you're not alone.
From the neon-lit streets of Itaewon to the Instagram-worthy bubblegum pink cafe in Hotel Del Luna, we've all wished we could live inside a K-drama.
The good news is many of your favourite show's locations are open to the public, so when it's finally time to travel again, you can hop on a plane and turn your K-drama fantasies into reality.
When you're ready to safely start your adventure,, the Korea Tourism Organization - Canada Office can help get you there.
Their website covers everything you need to know about South Korea, like travel basics, transportation tips, and even what to eat, so you can spend more time mapping out the locations of your favourite K-drama scenes.
Without further ado (and in no particular order), here are some of the best spots in South Korea to visit if you want to recreate your favourite Netflix K-drama:
1. Shilla Millennium Park as seen in Hwarang: The Beginning
If you want to learn more about Korean history, Shilla Millennium Park is the perfect place to start. Divided into areas like the main stage, village, and hotel, the park lets visitors peek into the life during the Shilla period with performances and architecture unique to the era.
K-drama fans will instantly recognize the park as the set for the training ground in the star-studded Hwarang: The Beginning, but it's also home to other dramas like Queen Seondeok and Boys Over Flowers.
2. Yongsan District, Seoul as seen in Itaewon Class
True to the drama’s name, Itaewon is where one of the most talked-about K-dramas of 2020, Itaewon Class, was filmed.
Known for its vibrant nightlight, international flair, and adorably small alleyways, Itaewon is Seoul’s most diverse and foreigner-friendly district.
The best time to visit the area is when it comes alive at night, when you can explore the buzzing streets and brightly lit neon signs.
You'll want to check out Noksapyeong Bridge where Park Sae-ro-yi often goes in Itaewon Class, and don't forget to put rooftop bars Oriole — where Sae-ro-yi sets up the second DanBam — where Park Sae-Ro-Yi sets up the second DanBam — and The Finest Lounge — where Sae-ro-yi and Cho Yi-seo had their first kiss — on your list, too. End the night with stunning rooftop views over dinner and drinks.
3. Hotel Seine as seen in Hotel Del Luna
With its bubblegum pink brick walls, antique furniture, and purple vest-clad bellboys, you'd be forgiven for thinking Seoul's Hotel Seine was a set from a Wes Anderson film.
This six-story cafe has been one of the hottest places in Ikseon-dong over the last couple of years, and while its Grand Budapest vibe definitely brings in troves of tourists, this hotel-turned-cafe's customers are mostly K-drama fans.
The cafe provides the backdrop for Hotel Del Luna, a drama about a hotel for those who enter the afterlife.
Hotel Del Luna fans can take pictures on the second-floor Cake Factory, grab drinks from the "front desk" bar, and even see room 404, where living guests stayed during the full moon night in the drama.
When you're done exploring, don’t forget to take pictures at the Hanok Village and Ikseon-dong nearby!
4. Sejong Forest of Wisdom as seen in It’s Okay Not To Be Okay
For bookworms and K-drama fans alike, the Forest of Wisdom in Sejong is an absolute must-see in South Korea.
Anyone who's binge-watched It's Okay Not To Be Okay recently will instantly recognize this spot from Episode 2, where Ko Mun-yeong had her book signing event.
While the library does not lend or sell any of its books, there are over 200,000 novels, essays, and poems here. You're free to pick up any book you like, grab a cup of coffee or a bingsoo, and read or work on your laptop in the central area.
If you can't make it to Sejong, the Forest of Wisdom has another location in Paju just a few kilometers from the demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea.
5. Oil Tank Culture Park as seen in Start-Up
With love triangles, mistaken identities, and even a dash of melodrama, Start-Up is the classic K-drama escapism we all needed during the pandemic lockdowns.
Anyone currently binge-watching the series will appreciate a visit to the Oil Tank Culture Park, which appears as the exterior of Sandbox, the fictional startup company where most of the story unfolds.
IRL, the "eco-friendly culture complex" used to be an oil depot in Seoul but has since been transformed into a historical landmark. It now houses a pavilion, amphitheater, information centre, and venues for exhibitions, concerts, and cultural events.
6. Guryongpo Modern Culture and History Street as seen in When the Camellia Blooms
Whether you're headed to South Korea with your SO or your BFF, make sure you head to the historic district of Guryongpo in Pohang — specifically the Guryongpo Modern Culture and History Street — to recreate the love story in When the Camellia Blooms.
The small coastal village, which dates back to 1923, has roots in the Japanese occupation period in Korea. The Guryongpo Modern Culture and History Street, where the Camellia Bar sits, was actually preserved back in 2011 to protect the area's Japanese history.
When you're here, don't forget to check out on the Pohang Jukdo Market for some of the village's famous snow crab.
7. Hallasan National Park as seen in Crash Landing on You
If you binge-watched the Korean drama Crash Landing on You on Netflix, you're probably still trying to process that rollercoaster of a finale.
The good news is you can curb your Yoon Se-ri and Ri Jeong-hyeok romance withdrawals by planning a trip to the location where it all began.
Hallasan National Park in Jeju Island is where the forbidden love story of the two main characters kicks off, and when you're done relieving the series, there are plenty of hiking trails to enjoy the natural beauty of the island.
8. Hongdae as seen in Hospital Playlist
If you're visiting South Korea it's inevitable that you'll find yourself at a noraebang, or a Korean-style private karaoke room — most likely in Hongdae.
Known for its nightlife and karaoke lounges, the busy street of Hongdae is a must-see for any visitor to South Korea. And noraebangs are extremely popular here.
Karaoke chain Luxury Su is one of the most popular, and Hospital Playlist fans will undoubtedly recognize it from Episode 3, the scene where Lee Ik-jun takes his son to show him where he performed for the first time.
You can rent out a private karaoke room in Luxury Su by the hour, and reservations typically aren't required.
The perfect amount of intrigue, melodrama, and fun, t's no wonder why K-dramas have exploded in popularity.
Of course, the absolutely beautiful scenery might have a little something to do with it; and, once it's safe to do so again, it only makes sense that you should try to live out your very best K-drama life by visiting your favourite spot.
But if you can’t wait until then, there’s a solution: Korea Tourism is hosting a Facebook livestream food tour of Korea’s Gwangjang Market, taking place this December 22 at 9:30 PM EST, and featuring some of the area’s most iconic dishes, including JapChae, TteokBokki and GimBap, and a whole lot more.