Posted : 2016-03-24 16:02
Updated : 2016-03-24 21:30

'Descendants of the Sun' makes Taebaek a tourism magnet

A building that was part of a military camp drama set built on an old mine site in Taebaek, Gangwon Province, for the filming of TV series, "Descendants of the Sun." Taebaek City plans to rebuild the filming set, which was torn down after shooting ended in November, as demand for visits to the area from fans of the drama is soaring.
/ Courtesy of Taebaek City

By Chung Ah-young

The city of Taekbaek in Gangwon Province plans to rebuild the film set of the hit drama series "Descendants of the Sun," as demand for visits to the area from travel agencies and drama fans is soaring.

The set location, which was built on the site of an old mine, was torn down after shooting ended last November, following a plan set earlier to reforest the area.

However, as the drama is garnering huge popularity both in Korea and abroad especially China, the city has received a large number of inquiries from tourist agencies and individuals looking to visit the location.

The romance between the two main characters played by Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo was portrayed against the backdrop of this former mine site, which was used as the location of the military barracks in the drama.

A slew of tourists who have visited the area expecting to see the film set have expressed disappointment.

"I went there with my children but it was really bleak because there was nothing," an Internet user said. "It looked abandoned. I couldn't believe it was the film location."

The city's plan to rebuild the film set was supported by President Park Geun-hye who mentioned in a meeting with her senior secretaries on Monday that the drama is an opportunity for the nation to promote its culture to the world and spark interest in Korea.

Taebaek Mayor Kim Yeon-sik recently discussed with officials from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) the development of the site and neighboring areas into a tourist attraction.

"The film set should be created as a sustainable tourist destination rather than a one-time location," KTO CEO Jung Chang-soo said. "The site should be connected with other regional tourist products for the long run."

Kim said, "We will ask the central government to support the plan for reconstructing the film set and constructing roads and other infrastructure to develop it as a tourist destination."

However, the reconstruction of the set may face some obstacles as the Mine Reclamation Corp. will begin its project next year to plant trees on the mine site, which was closed in 2008, spending 6.4 billion won. To push ahead with the set-rebuilding plan, the reforestation project would have to be suspended.

"Descendants of the Sun" premiered both in Korea and China on Feb. 24. The drama is set in the fictional war-torn country of Uruk. Song Joong-ki plays a leader of a special warfare command unit while Song Hye-kyo acts as a doctor from Doctors Without Borders. The drama currently claims more than 30 percent viewership. The 16-episode series will end on April 14.

The drama has garnered some 1.1 billion hits on iQiyi, a Chinese online video platform. It is appraised in China as an equivalent to 2013's "My Love From the Star" which starred Jun Ji-hyun and Kim Soo-hyun.

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