Don't Visit Korea!

Just kidding..hehe. don't need to when you could see it all in Korean drama, right? ^^ Totally wrong!! You must visit Korea especially these gorgeous places which I will mention shortly!

If you are highly influenced and addicted to watching Korean drama, you won't miss the beautiful spots in Korea shown in the drama, will you? This is one of the reasons why so many people around the globe fell in love with Korea, apart from drooling over the gorgeous actors and actresses. You know what I mean, right? Hehehe. Back to my point here. ^^ The places are so unbelievably beautiful and people are warm (not to mention attractive). You couldn't imagine not being there appreciating the breathtaking beauty yourself! Just like me. ^^

I list out the famous Korean dramas with beautiful spots for you to marvel at later once you visit Korea. Hehehe.

1. Winter Sonata

Nami Island - I visited Nami Island early November when the weather was very harsh for my dear skin. T_T But it was all a worthwhile experience because autumn scenery was just superb. Check it out here.

Yongpyong Ski Resort - It is located in Gangwondo. However, I am not a Winter Sonata fan. Sorry to Yon-sama fans out there but soapy plot is not my cup of tea. So, I opted for Phoenix Ski Resorts as advised by my host in Jinbu. They have more adventurous slopes.Those who really love the drama, my advice; just visit the ski resort and relive the moments in the drama while you skiing down the slope. Hehehe.

Ski Resorts in Gangwondo's review is here and another blogger's review for Phoenix Ski Resort.

Daehangno - I met Chi Won near Daehangno, my couchsurfing friend before leaving Korea. She works in Seoul University Hospital around there. Take subway to Hyehwa Station, Line 4. Check out the pictures here.

2. Kim Sam Soon

Guesthouse Rakgojae (Hanok - Korean traditional house) - The house is available for rental if you want a nice stay in traditional style house. Recommended for family or group visitors because the rate is quite a bomb for a budget traveler.

Namsan tower - This place is a must. Just don't go during cloudy or rainy days and all will be perfect!

3. Iris

Gwanghamun Square - I visited here because of King Sejong not because of Lee Byung Hun (sorry Yani, I'm just not a fan of him), although Iris drama depicts the place spectacularly. Just step out of Gwanghamun Station and you could take a stroll on the huge road for King Sejong's statue, General Yi Sun Sin's statue, Haechi Madang and King Sejong's Cultural Center.

Check out my story on Gwanghamun.

4. You're Beautiful

Myeongdong, Myeongdong Cathedral where Go Mi Nam and Kang Shin Woo supposed to meet.
Tips for shopping in Myeongdong is here. Avoid public holiday at all cost if you want to shop in Myeongdong. It was jam-packed during Christmas 2009 when I visited Myeongdong. Pictures here.

5. Cinderella's Sister

Sanjeong Lake
They built a costly Hanok (traditional Korean house) for this drama in Daeseongdoga. It is located inside Sanjeonghosu Lake area in Gyeonggi-do Province.

How to go: Bus: Take a bus for Sincheolwon at Seoul Sangbong Bus Terminal and get off at Uncheon. There is a bus every 15 minutes. It takes about 1 hour 20 minutes Take a bus for Sanjeong Lake at Uncheon.

More info is here

6. Queen Seondok

Gyeongju - This place is a must!

How to go:
Seoul Gangnam Express Bus Terminal (Subway lines 3 or 7, Seoul Gangnam Express Bus Terminal Station, Exit 2) → Gyeongju (It takes 4 hours, first bus at 06:05, last bus at 23:55, departs every 30 to 40 minutes, fare 18,600 won - 30,400 won)


Dong Seoul Bus Terminal (Subway line 2, Gangbyeon Station) → Gyeongju (It takes 4 hours, first bus at 07:00, last bus at 24:00, departs every 30 to 40 minutes, fare 19,500 won - 23,200 won)
Read my journey to Gyeongju here.

7. Cain and Abel

Suamgol village of Cheongju, Chungcheongbuk-do

How to Go:
Seoul Express Bus Terminal or Dong Seoul Bus Terminal → Cheongju Intercity / Express Bus Terminal (est. travel time 1hr 40mins) → Take Bus No. 105 at the entrance of the Cheongju Express Bus Terminal or any bus bound for Cheongju University → Get off in front of Uam Elementary School → Walk along the walls of the Uam Elementary School (app. 10 min by foot)

Eumseong Large Rock Face Sculpture Park

How to go:
Dong Seoul Bus Terminal → Saenggeuk Intercity Bus Terminal (est. travel time of 1hr 30mins), take a taxi from the Saenggeuk Intercity Bus Terminal (app. 5,000won of taxi fare)

8. Boys Over Flowers

Keimyung University, Daegu

How to go:
Seongseo campus: +82-53-580-5114, 1000 Sinsang-dong, Dalseo-gu district, Daegu city From Seoul station, take a train to Dongdaegu -> from Dongdaegu station, get on the subway; get off at Keimyung University station on line 2

Daemyeong campus: +82-53-580-5785, 2139 Daemyeong-dong, Nam-gu, Daegu city
From Seoul station, take a train to Daegu; from Daegu station, take bus#202, 202-1, or 808

9. The First Shop of Coffee Prince

Coffee Shop in Hongik

How to Get There: Take Subway Line 2 to Hongik University, and go out of Exit 4. Turn right into Seven Springs corner and pass the intersection. At the 3-way intersection, turn left. Walk about 100 meters on the road above the playground and walk towards the road on the right side. Walk about 500 meters until you find the coffee shop on the right

Tut, Hanim and me visited Coffee Prince coffee shop's post is here. Apparently there are two Coffee Prince coffee shop. We went to the main one instead of the actual filming location. Both coffee shops are around Hongik area.

10. Witch Yu Hui

N Seoul Tower
Directions : Take exit no. 2 or 4 at Chungmuro Station on subway line no. 3 or 4 and take the yellow Mt. Namsan circular bus no. 2; Get off at the entrance of N Seoul Tower

11. Daejanggeum - Jewel in the Palace

Chandeokgung Palace - I have visited the palace in September but try to come in autumn/spring. Entrance fee is only 3,000 won and for free English tour, please be there by 11.00 am. Avoid Mondays because a lot of historical/cultural spots are closed. Just walk out from Anguk Station for about 100 meters and you will see the magnificent palace in front of you. Read my post on Chandeokgung palace here.

Korean Folk Village - It is located in Yongin and I went there when I stayed with Chi Won (Couchsurfing).
Entrance fee is 12,000 won. I love watching the performances and the place is quite huge so you may need to allocate 3-4 hours.

How to go:
From Exit No. 6 of Gangnam Subway Station (Seoul Subway Line No. 2) or Exit No. 7 or Yangjae Subway Station (Seoul Subway Line No. 7), take City Express Bus No. 1560 or 5000-1 and get off at Korean Folk Village (30-40 minute ride).

12. My Girl

Jeju Island - You will feel like you are in Jeju Island if you watch this drama. Most scenes in episodes 1 and 2 were filmed in Jungmun, the largest tourist complex on the island. While scenes were filmed all over the island, some major locations were Seongsan Ilchulbong, Cheonjeyeon Falls, Cheonjiyeon Falls, and Seopjikoji.

Not been there yet but I will be ^^. Initially, I thought what's the big deal? Malaysia has a string of beautiful islands too. So, I skip Jeju Island. What a big no no! Imagine an island with a shield volcano which I COULD NOT see anywhere in Malaysia. Totally different experience! This is a MUST stop for me the next time I visit Korea. Thanks to AirAsia, the dream will come true soon.

If you watch My Girl drama (recommended!), you could see the rocks near the beaches are black right? That's why Jeju Island is different. Halla san would be intriguing for anyone to come over. Loads of Korean drama were filmed in Jeju Island. We should definitely go! Check out my post for riding a scooter on Jeju Island here and how to go to Jeju Island here.

Note: Information are based on KNTO site. Check for more filming locations here.

How To Go To Jeju Island

By Flight from Seoul / Busan

It's only in Korean and I'm afraid you need a Korean friend to assist you for booking the ticket. It's a budget flight like AirAsia
How to make Korean friends? Try Couchsurfing. I have personally couchsurfed myself. View my experience here and here.

Korean Airline -

Be a member before booking online. 
Register yourself for their newsletter to get the latest offer and discounts.
Korean Airlines and Asiana Airlines are more expensive than Jeju Air.

By Bus
Go to Mokpo/Wando/Incheon/Busan and take a ferry from respective ports

Seoul to Mokpo
Seoul Express Bus Terminal - Mokpo Terminal (every 30~50 minutes/4 hour 20 mins trip/17,600won~28,800won)

Seoul to Wando
The journey is around 5 hours 40 minutes. Seoul dwellers can head to the Express Bus Terminal (line 3, 7, 9) to start their journey to Wando-gun (W33,000).

Seoul to Busan
There are 2 types, Express buses and Inter-city buses which often have separate terminals. Express buses can be either first class (udung) or second class (chikhaeng). Express buses are non-stop except for rest stops of 10 minutes every 2 hours. Inter-city buses stop to pick up passengers.

The Seoul Express Bus Terminal (02-782-5551/2) is on Seoul City Subway Line 3, south of the Han River. It has buses departing to Jeonju, Busan, Daegu, Daejeon, Ulsan, Incheon and Gwangju.

Dong-Seoul bus terminal (02-458-4852/4) on Seoul City Subway Line 2, near Kangbyon station, has buses to Jeonju, Incheon, Gwangju, Busan, Daegu and Daejeon.

By Train

Seoul Train Station/Yongsan Station to Mokpo Station 
Saemaeul train - 4 hours 30 mins, 36,600won
KTX - 2 hours 50 min,  40,500won

Seoul to Busan
KTX trains connect Seoul to Busan via Daegu and Daejeon in about 175 min (₩51700). Other trains, such as Saemaeul and Mugunghwa, connect Busan with other major cities as well. They're cheaper but slower than KTX. Head to the First Class car for a free-of-charge water vending machine.

By Ferry to Jeju Port

Busan Port  - More info from Life in Korea
Incheon Port
Wando Port - More info from Lonely Planet
Mokpo Port

Recommended to use Internet Explorer 7.0 for opening the all the Korean websites mentioned.
Fare for train/subway/bus/ferry/flight might change.

Seoul Metro

This is a list of subway stations in Seoul which I had been to before. I think it might be helpful for you to know them when you travel.

All the stations' names are equipped in English but if you get lost and uncertain how to pronounce the station's name, it might be good if you have it in Hangul.

Imagine yourself, lost in Seoul Metropolis. You hold a piece of paper with subway station's name written in Hangul. Then, show it to the passersby with a smiling face for direction. The probability of non English speaking Korean helping you or even leading you directly to the station will be higher.  ^^ Bingo!

Subway - jihachol - 지하철
Station - yok - 역
Note: The 'o' sounds in 'yok' and 'jihachol' is pronounce as 'jaw' in English.

Anguk - 안국

Apgujeong - 앞구정

Cheongnyangni   (Seoul Metro) - 청량리

Gangbyeon - 강변

Gwanghamun - 광화문

Gyeongbokgung - 경복궁

Hoegi - 회기

Myeong-dong - 명동

Noryangjin - 노량진

Samseong  - 삼성

Yaksu - 약수

Yongsan - 용산

Note: The 'o' sound in 'Yongsan' is pronounced similar to the 'o' of 'low' in English
Check the rest of the stations that I have listed in here.

TOPIK: Korean Language Exam

I received an email from UKM  (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia) for my application to sit for Beginner level Korean Language Proficiency Exam (TOPIK).

Click here for UKM Korean language department blog.

My name is the second applicant.  Yeay!

TOPIK exam is held twice yearly. Once in April and the other in September. The fee is RM80 and it has three levels; Beginner, Intermediate and Advance. Apparently, I will take Beginner level. ^^. It seems tough because you need to write an essay so you have to know the grammar well and memorize as much vocabulary as possible.

For Malaysians , you could register in March 2011 for April placement if you wish to take the exam.
Check the official website here.

I refer to Sogang University's Korean lesson closely for TOPIK exam's preparation.

Don't Repeat My Mistakes

I list out some of my bloopers while travelling in South Korea which I could remember. Hope it helps! 

1. I didn't activate my ATM card for international withdrawal

Before I depart to Korea, I did call my bank to activate my credit cards. (Make sure you have two cards at least, Visa and Master each) I also called to activate my ATM card ( I only have one saving account, bad move :( ). The worst part was the card was not activated because I didn't send a formal letter to the bank stating the reasons for international withdrawal. I didn't know that I could not simply call the bank and get the card activated! 

I had only around 50,000 won for 1 week in Seoul. The moment I went to the ATM machine in Dongdaemun, the card was rejected. I tried three times, it was still rejected. Hmmm..later that night I emailed my friend in Malaysia asking her sister's help to activate my card. Luckily, she could uplift the block because she was the manager in authorization department. 

I wanted to thank my good friend Hassan for lending me his money while I was in dire need for cash. May Allah bless you. 

Moral of the story: Make sure you follow the correct procedure with banks. Don't assume!

2. I went to the wrong bus terminal and picked the wrong date 

Hanim and I decided to choose Gwangcheon for wwoofing. Since Seoul has 3 different bus terminals, I wasn't sure which one to go. So I checked with the guesthouse's owner. He said I should go to the Main Bus Terminal. We took a taxi because Hanim had a huge trolley bag while I had a 15kg backpack. We ruled out subway even though it's cheaper. It was too much hassle going from Yaksu Station to Main Bus Terminal Station with heavy luggages. We paid around 10,000 won for the taxi.

Once we reached the bus terminal, the ticket officer told me that I should go to Nambu Bus Terminal instead. "What?!! Come're bluffing right?" so I thought. I had no choice but to take the subway and headed for Nambu. Aigoo.. I should have double checked and asked for second opinion.

To top on that, we had to wait almost 4 hours for the bus. There were so many people going back to their hometown because of public holiday. My mistake. Again and again. Should have picked another date instead of that day. Click the link here for our ticket to Gwangcheon. 

Check this link for more information on Bus Terminals in Seoul. 

Moral of the story: Get second opinion if you're not sure and plan your itinerary well. 

3. I didn't check the review of WWOOF's host

Before going to Gwangcheon I was a bit curious on the WWOOF's host detail. It was stated in the WWOOF's book that the host could accept 20 WWOOFers at one time. 20! cool. I imagined that I could meet other people from around the globe volunteering there. I didn't think twice and choose Gwangcheon. 

It was different from my imagination. The farm was so huge and only the host,his wife, me and Hanim working on it. It means working your ass off from dawn to dusk. Harvesting is normally done during autumn. It was fun and bitter memories at the same time. Sometimes we received help from grandmothers living in the village. They were paid around 40,000 won for whole day. So cheap! I pity them. 

By the second week, (I don't know why I persevered. Maybe because I took it in good stride) I thought that this was too much and at that moment Yong Jun came to save us. Read the rest here

Moral of the story: Try to Google for a review on the host before going. WWOOF is supposed to be a cultural exchange thingy where you trade working for 4-6 hours per day for FREE lodging and food. It is not slavery. 

4. I didn't rent/buy a handphone

Vandalism is pretty nil in South Korea so I refused to rent/buy a handphone and opting to use public phone instead. However, it is very hard to locate them sometimes and I could not contact my friends or WWOOF hosts when I had an emergency. 

It wasn't until the third month in South Korea that I decided to buy a used handphone. It happened by accident. I was on my way to Dongdaemun but I chose to drop off at Dongdaemun Stadium because I thought of exploring the area around there and later walked my way to Dongdaemun instead. After walking around 100 metres from the exit, I found a stretch of shops selling handphones but the advertisements outside the shop was written in Russian. I was curious. Hmm..maybe they sell cheap handphones for Russian workers?

I hit a jackpot. ^^. I barged into the shop and bought a used Samsung handphone for 15,000 won and prepaid reload for 10,000 won. There was a trick though. Normally they need your Alien registration card for proof, but I told them I hadn't get mine yet and I wanted to rent the handphone earlier. My application went through. Yeay!

You could get a used handphone for FREE too but it doesn't have much function. If you failed to rent/buy one, get your Korean friend to buy/rent for you once you reach Seoul. They could buy from GMarket too. 

Moral of the story: Just rent/buy a used handphone. It's cheap. 

5. I forgot to bring medication

WWOOFing is not easy. I forgot to bring some analgesic cream or Yoko-Yoko for my sore muscle after a hard day farming ^^. Intentionally, I left my Tiger balm because I assumed I didn't need it here. You never know when you need one. I had a severe stomach ache and I wished I had one with me at that time. If you are prone to gastric like me, prepare your prescription ahead. 

Moral of the story: Prepare your medication ahead. 

6. I didn't learn sufficient Korean survival phrases

I know it's hard to learn a foreign language. It's much harder if the language doesn't use the same English alphabet. Aigoo..Before going, I tried my best to learn Korean. But it wasn't enough. I stumbled too many times for the first month but slowly I picked up the important daily sentences used by the locals. Some regions have their own dialects (Saturi). If you go to Busan, they speak totally different Korean from Seoulites. I love Busan saturi though. It's like music to my ears.

Moral of the story: Buy one good Korean survival phrasebook like Lonely Planet's.


    Busan Subway Fare Calculation from Naver

    You could use Naver to calculate Busan Subway Fare which is pretty similar to Seoul subway fare calculation that I did before.

    The differences are:

    1. Busan only have 3 subway lines
    2. Fare is more expensive than Seoul 
    3. The journey is very time consuming between each locations. 
    4. Use Hanabi or Mybi cards instead. Note: You can use T-money Seoul in Busan but you must reload it in Seoul. 
    Check out Hanaro website here (Only in Korean) 
    and T-Money image + cost saving tips here.

    Check out Mybi website here

    I guess because many Japanese tourists visit South Korea through Busan, hence the fare is more expensive. Maybe? Hehe..

    You could take a ferry to go to Shimonoseki, Japan from Busan Port. Malaysians, make sure you apply for Japan Visa in Malaysia before you want to embark to Japan via Busan Port. You can't apply Japan Visa in South Korea.

    Fare is based on each moveable section (for regular ticket)
    1 section - 1,100 won (To 10km)
    2 sections - 1,300 won (Over 10km)

    If by card, you will get 10% discount for adult (19 years and above) and 30% discount for teenager (from 13 years old to below 19 years old).

    Where to buy Hanaro Card
    You could buy at any Subway ticket offices or Pusan Bank (
    The card has a deposit of 5,000 won. Some with flashy designs like Hello Kitty cost about 6,000 won. (Price may change). Source: Busan Transportation
    If you want to use the card, recharge or reload the card.

    I didn't buy Hanaro card when I was in Busan, in the hope of saving my budget but it was a clumsy mistake. I should have bought it. Why? Because I visited Busan 3 times in 3 months! I love the beaches in Busan. Busan's transportation is more expensive than Seoul! Aigoo..heheh.

    Fare Calculation: Nopodong Station to Jagalchi Station
    Click here to calculate.

    Nopodong Bus Terminal

    If you use bus to visit Busan, you will most likely arrive at Nopodong Bus Terminal. The example shown here is based on the assumption that your lodging is around Jagalchi area.

    From: Nopodong Station
    To: Jagalchi Station
    Journey time: 45 minutes.
    Distance: 23.3km
    Line: 1
    Subway stop: 24 stations
    Fare: 1,170 won by card, 1,300 won by cash

    Fare Calculation: Busan Station to Jagalchi Station

    If you use train or KTX from Seoul to Busan, you will arrive at Busan Station which is only 3 stops away from Jagalchi Station.

    From: Busan Station
    To: Jagalchi Station
    Journey time: 6 minutes.
    Distance: 2.8km
    Line: 1
    Subway stop: 3 stations
    Fare: 990 won by card, 1,100 won by cash

    Tip: Notice that you should think twice before taking the bus from Seoul to Busan if you stay around Jagalchi area.

    How to Peel Fruits the Korean Way

    How to peel fruits the Korean way? There's no specific method, not really. However, it became some sort of cultural shock to me if not a barrier.

    Other than the facts that Korean's lifestyle is healthy and they eat truckloads of vegetables and fruits, why did I even mention this topic? Is it related at all to Korean culture and lifestyle?

    Yes, it does.

    Once, I was given a task by an ahjumma when I was wwoofing in GwangcheonChungcheong-do province. The task was simple. I was assigned to peel apple and persimmon after lunch. Even before I started, I had failed.


    A few halmoni-del (grandmothers) who helped harvesting the cabbage had lunch together with me and the family. Initially, they complimented me because I resembled the girl next door who could do all the household chores. (I'm not! ^^ but I accept the nice gestures)

    But that changed after they saw how I hold my knife. (There's nothing wrong with my knife holding style. I was taught that way by my mother)

    I failed instantly at that moment. Hehehe..I was greeted by- "oooo..ahhhh..that's dangerous, that's wrong!" Immediately, one of the halmoni-del grabbed the knife from me and started peeling. Phew..Peeling fruits? No longer my task now. ^^

    This is how I hold my knife. (Note the background music. It's Korean song!
    How ironic..hehe.)

    Check here for Korean-style. Concentrate on the first 1 minute. 

    It seems very crucial for a Korean lady to be able to peel fruits nicely because it shows how competent she is in the kitchen. How could you compare a plate of nicely sliced fruits with a plate of whatever, right? ^^

    A visit to North Korea

    Hehe..almost! The nearest I went was Imjingak. Min Young and I missed the last bus to DMZ, hence we couldn't visit North Korea, I mean the border. ^_^

    Imjingak (임진각, pronounced Ihm-jin-gak)located on the banks of the Imjin River in the city of Paju, South Korea. The park has many statues and monuments regarding the Korean War. It was built to console those from both sides who are unable to return to their hometowns, friends and families because of the division of Korea. Source: Wikipedia

    Anyone interested to go to DMZ, please check TourDMZ website.

    DMZ tour booking need to be scheduled at least 1 day ahead - around 65 to 80,000 won (depends on tour agencies). The Korean Demilitarized Zone (Korean한반도 비무장지대) is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. Source: Wikipedia.

    Panmunjom tour booking need to be scheduled at least 7 days ahead - around 70 to 85,000 won (depends on tour agencies). Panmunjom, in Gyeonggi province, is a village on the de facto border between North and South Korea. Source: Wikipedia.

    Each tours could be completed for half a day.

    If you are interested to see both, the tour costs about 120,000 won for one whole day.

    A is Panmunjeom; the border between South Korea
    and North Korea
    파주시 (Paju-si) is where Imjingak is located. 

    DMZ tour video by GreenKorea2007
    Go here to view North Korean Invasion Tunnel dug under DMZ.

    I visited Imjingak on Parents' Day in May with Min Young and her grandparents. We were so close to visit the DMZ but we missed the last bus from Paju. Not our luck I guess. Next time when I return to Korea, I will visit with Min Young.

    We had lunch at nearby temple before reaching Imjingak. 
    The restaurants served vegetables gathered from the mountains. 

    Nice right? Although it is so sunny but the temperature is cool.

    Min Young's grandparents and Min Young.

    Mushroom and vegetables jjigae

    Nokdu jeon (Green bean pancake). The taste? I have never tasted
    one before, a bit different than normal but very delicious. Two thumbs

    Min Youngi..

    sanchae banchan - mountain vegetables side dishes

    Another family celebrating Parents' Day.

    Me and the family.

    We visited Imjingak after lunch. That red bus goes for DMZ

    Good move, the website for Paju right on the bus.

    The ticket counter for DMZ

    Behind us are the well wishes ribbon for North Koreans and 
    South Koreans during Korean War.

    Old locomotive

    The Bridge of Freedom

    The flower in spring

    The barb wire and behind those mountains is North Korea.

    Touring train around Imjingak. 

    Korean Memorial for US soldiers and countries
    assisting Korea during Korean War.


    I don't know what G&G means. Any guess?

    Displays of equipments used during Korean War.

    No admission fee.

    I couldn't meet the real one. This is the least I could do with
    a North Korean soldier. 

    We walked to Imjingak Plaza and walked up towards
    the observation deck, on the top left side. 

    Min Young with her grandmother.


    The owner of this coffee shop probably likes the movie starring
    Keanu Reeves - A walk in the clouds. 

    The owner must be a close friend of Hyun Bin 
    too, cause the flower read from the movie actor
    Hyun Bin. 영화 배우 현빈

    Military fashion the DMZ way.

    From the observation deck

    The view from top.

    The sign tells it all.