When visiting a country you've never been to before, it's always a great idea to do a little bit of historical and cultural research on your destination before your trip, as it makes it that much more fun when you have a little knowledge of the past once you get there. That being said, here are 6 must-visit cultural heritage sites in Korea, as recommended by the Korean Tourism Organization, which, as you may already know, just recently appointed Song Joong Ki as its ambassador.

A journey to a place you've always wanted to visit will give you a lifetime of memories, and who better to recommend you places to go than the people who know it the most? With the recent announcement by the Korean government that it has appointed Song Joong Ki as the face of the Korean Tourism Organization, there are hopes that his skyrocketing popularity will bring even more visitors to Korea from all over the world, and this strategy already seems to be working. Besides the filming location of Descendants of the Sun, which is a must-see destination for countless tourists, there are a number of other sites in Korea that the government would like visitors to see when coming to their country. 

As recommended by the Korean Tourism Organization, and Song Joon Ki, listed below are 6 sites worth checking out! These locations are sure to make your trip one that you'll never forget.

1. Taebaek and Jeongsun — These cities have seen a huge surge in visitors ever since Descendants of the Sun became the mega-hit drama that it is today. Despite the actual set of the drama in Taebaek being demolished last November after shooting was completed, the city plans to rebuild the set as a tourist attraction, due to high demand from international visitors. But even without the actual set of your favorite drama, there are many reasons to visit Taebaek, including the Taebaek Paleozoic Museum, which houses local fossils from the Cambrian Period in the Paleozoic Era.

In Jeongsun, you can visit the Samtan Art Mine, located at the foot of Hambaeksan Mountain. This abandoned mine-turned-art-museum was not only used for Descendants of the Sun, but also for the hit TV show Running Man and in the movie The Spy: Undercover Operation, among others. The mine also houses a beautiful lobby, sky lounge, music room, wine room, and, of course, an awesome art museum. 

2. Old Seoul in Hapcheon — Another destination for film lovers, Hapcheon is home to the Hapcheon Image Theme Park, which has 150 model streets, buildings and homes from the times of Japanese colonial rule to the 1970s, which are used for filming numerous movies and TV shows, such as Assassination, Sunny and Taegugki: Brotherhood of War. The TV dramas East of Eden and Lights and Shadows were also filmed at this park. What even better, you can rent old costumes and becomes a part of history!

For some even older history, you can visit Haeinsa Temple, founded in 802, which houses numerous public and private treasures from the past. This site has been named as a universal cultural heritage site since 1995.

Old Seoul in Hapcheon

3. Hoeryongpo Village — Located in Yecheon in North Gyeongsang Province, this tiny village has a rich history of merchants and travelers who came through to cross the Nakdong River before heading out to Hanyang, the capital of the Joseon Kingdom between 1310 to 1910. And yes, this historical location has also been in a TV drama, Autumn in My Heart. Even today, visitors can enjoy activities put on by local villagers that will allow them to experience life during the Joseon Dynasty.

Hoeryongpo Village

4. Gunsan Modern History Museum — This museum is fairly new, having opened its doors in 2011, and provides a glimpse into the past of the port city of Gunsan. One of its most popular exhibitions is a recreation of the city's streets and buildings from the 1930s. But history is not limited to the inside of this museum; the city itself has kept many historical buildings nearby intact, allowing visitors to get a feel of life in the past. Gunsan was where the Japanese would used to transport rice and other goods to Japan that they seized during their colonial rule from 1910 to 1945.

Besides the museum, there is a small bakery that's been around since the 1920s, called Lee Sung Dang, which was ironically started by the Japanese but taken over by the locals at the end of Japanese occupation. Visitors from all over make sure to stop at this special establishment, as it's the oldest bakery in all of Korea.

Gunsan Modern History Museum

5. Suncheon Open Film Set — This awesome attraction is the largest film set in the country, and is made up of three interconnecting villages. The villages  each represent three different decades from the 1950s to the 1970s, with a total of around 200 houses in all. You can take a stroll through the streets of Suncheon in the 1950s, which includes a major theater, Jeil Brewery, and a fire station. As you enter the 60s and 70s, you can experience life in the daldongne (residential areas for the poor in the uphill areas of Seoul) and streets on the outskirts of the city that were frequented by shoppers. And if all the walking makes you hungry, you can enjoy some local buchimgae (pan-fried foods) and dotorimuk (acorn jelly) at a an old-school tavern.

 Suncheon Open Film Set

6. Gongsanseong, Gongsan Fortress —  A mountain castle which was established during the Baekje Period, which lasted from 234 to 678, this fortress houses the tomb of King Muryeong and his queen, who ruled the Baekje Kingdom from 501 to 523. With a breathtaking view of  the Geumgang River, this 1500 year old fortress was originally built out of mud but restored to stone during the 17th Century during the Joseon Dynasty. If you visit during the months of August and September, you can even catch the Eumgang International Arts of Nature Festival at nearby Gongju Fortress Park, where art installations, temporary outdoor sculptures, seminars, and various performances are sure to be a bonus to go along with your visit to an awe-inspiring historical site.

 Gongsanseong, Gongsan Fortress 

If you are one of the lucky ones planning a trip to Korea, remember to keep these locations in mind. You will not be disappointed!


Descendants of the Sun

Starring Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Gyo

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