The last time we were in Gangwon prior to our most recent trip back in February, it was for the press conference and press day of the then-upcoming Korean drama, “Saimdang: Light’s Diary”, in 2015. On top of interviewing “Saimdang: Light’s Diary” stars Lee Young Ae (이영애) and Song Seung-Heon (송승헌), we were also given to opportunity to visit the K-Drama locations and watch the cast in action during filming.
Alas, our schedule was a little tight on time and the security on set was beefed up that day so we never really got to walk around on set.
On our most recent trip, however, we properly revisited the filming locations – Ojukheon and Seongyojang. Each with their own enchanting stories to tell.
Here’s what went down:
The place gets its name from the many black bamboo trees that surround it. It was here where Shin Saimdang lived and where her son Yi I (penname Yulgok, the most prominent Korean Confucian scholar of the Joseon Period) was born. It is said that Shin Saimdang had dream of a dragon before she gave birth to Yi I.
Till today, black bamboo trees grow freely behind the house that Yi I was born in. We were told that the black bamboo has a lifespan of 60 years!
Built during the time of the 11th King of Joseon, King Jungjong (1506-1544), the Ojukheon has been maintained by Shin Saimdang’s descendants through the generations and remains one of the oldest wooden residential buildings in Korea.
It was nominated Korean National Cultural Heritage No. 165 in 1963.
Inside Ojukheon is the Yulgok Memorial Hall, Mongnyongsil, where Yi I was born, and the Eojaegak, which was built to preserve the inkstone and Gyeokmongyogyeol (a book written by Yi I in 1577 for those beginning their studies), mementos of Yi I.
Right beside Ojukheon, there is the Gangneung Municipal Museum where you can see a display historical artefacts from different time periods, including Shin Saimdang’s beautiful paintings, which date back to the Joseon dynasty (14th to 19th century).
Only the replicas were on display though because the actual ones are kept safely for the purpose of preservation. But indeed, visitors would be very pleasantly surprised to find everything, from the house to the relics, extremely well cared for.
Fun fact: Shin Saimdang’s image is on the 50,000 won note (the first woman in South Korea to appear on the 50,000 won note) while Yi I’s image is on the 5,000 won note. Also, in remembrance of Yi I’s birth, the Yulgok Festival is held annually at Ojukheon.
- Opening Hours: 8am – 6pm (Summer), 8am – 5:30pm (Winter)
- Admission: 3,000 won (Adults), 2,000 won (Teens), 1,000 won (Children)
- Address: 24, Yulgok-ro 3139beon-gil, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do
Seongyojang (강릉 선교장)
If you’ve ever wanted a taste of what it’s like to live as part of a noble family back in the day in South Korea, then you need to head on over to Seongyojang. Also a shooting location for “Saimdang: Light’s Diary”, Seongyojang is the former upper class residence of the Naebeon Lee (1703-1781) noble family of Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do Province.
The sprawling residence was designated Important Folklore Material No. 5 in 1967 and it was selected by KBS (Korean Broadcasting System) as one of the top 10 most well preserved original dwellings in Korea that was constructed in the past 300 years.
The residence got its name from its location as the Gyeongpo Lake was directly in front of Seongjoyang at the time it was built, thus making it accessible by boat. The word “Seon” in Seongyojang means “boat”.
The Gyeongpo Lake used to be 3 times bigger and it once reached the enormous circumference of 12km. However, after 300 years and due to climate change, its size has reduced by 4km over the years and its depth has decreased by 1-2 meters.
We were told that 10 generations of descendants of Naebeon Lee have continued to live at Seongyojang. Visitors can even opt to stay at Seongyojang as part of a “hanok stay” (staying in a traditional Korean house) to experience the traditional Korean lifestyle and culture.
Located just inside the main entrance of Seongyojang is the picturesque Hwallaejeong, a pavilion structure that was built in 1816. It is surrounded by a lotus flower pond, making it a sight to behold come spring. Unfortunately, as we were there in winter, we didn’t get to see the gorgeous blossoms.
- Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm (March – October), 9am – 5pm (November – February)
- Admission: 5,000 won (Adults), 3,000 won (Teens), 2,000 won (Children)
- Address: 63, Unjeong-gil, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do
Special thanks to our friends from Korea Tourism Organisation (Malaysia) for the opportunity!
Don’t forget to catch “Saimdang: Light’s Diary” every Wednesday and Thursday at 9pm on Oh!K (Astro Ch 394). More fun facts about “Saimdang: Light’s Diary” here.
Hype Malaysia is also an official “Wow! PyeongChang!” supporter in conjunction with the upcoming 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea. So keep a look out for our future posts as we’ll be gushing over places to go, things to do, and food to eat in Gangwon ?
Big shoutout to our friends from Travel Recommends for keeping us connected with unlimited data on our trip to South Korea, enabling us to update real-time for the entire duration without a hitch ?