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[Drama Tour] Relive scenes from ‘Guardian: The Lonely and Great God’ in streets of Jongno

By Lee Si-jin

Published : March 23, 2024 - 16:01

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“Guardian: The Lonely and Great God” (tvN) “Guardian: The Lonely and Great God” (tvN)

Jongno-gu in Seoul is home to several major tourist attractions, including Insa-dong with its antique shops and traditional cafes, Gyeongbokgung, the main royal palace of the Joseon era built in 1395, and Jongmyo Shrine, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.

With traditional Korean architecture standing among modern, glass-clad skyscrapers, the Jongno district is an exciting destination where old meets new.

The small, narrow alleys of Anguk-dong in particular preserve Korea's traditional charm.

These streets and stone pavements captivated the director of “Guardian: The Lonely and Great God” (2016), who used the streets as a backdrop for many scenes in the hit drama series.

Anguk Station on Subway Line No. 3 is a good place to start exploring the area, as Seoul's three Joseon-era palaces -- Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung -- are all located within a 10-minute walk.

For those who wish to fully immerse themselves in Korean tradition, a light stroll starting at Gamgodang-gil is recommended.

Gamgodang-gil

A pedestrian walks along Gamgodang-gil in Jongno-gu, central Seoul, Monday. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald) A pedestrian walks along Gamgodang-gil in Jongno-gu, central Seoul, Monday. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Starting at the Seoul Museum of Craft Art, a two-minute walk from Exit 1 of Anguk Station, Gamgodang-gil stretches on for 440 meters.

The alley is named after the residence of two Joseon-era consorts.

Queen Inhyeon (1867-1701), the second queen consort of King Sukjong, was deposed after a vicious campaign of defamation launched by a royal concubine surnamed Jang and stayed at Gamgodang for five years until she was reinstated.

Empress Myeongseong (1851-1895), whose hometown was Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province, lived in Gamgodang until she married King Gojong.

Although the original Gamgodang site is occupied by the buildings of Duksung Girls’ High School, Gamgodang’s stonewalls remain and lead to the center of Anguk-dong.

Fans of “Guardian: The Lonely and Great God” will recognize this street as the place where the 939-year-old guardian of souls Kim Shin (Gong Yoo) encounters the female lead Ji Eun-tak (Kim Go-eun) for the first time at the end of the first episode.

Kim Shin (Gong Yoo) meets female lead Ji Eun-tak ( Kim Go-eun) in the first episode of Kim Shin (Gong Yoo) meets female lead Ji Eun-tak ( Kim Go-eun) in the first episode of "Guardian: The Lonely and Great God." (tvN)

Take some time to relax at Songhyeon Green Plaza, a street-side park where new flowers and trees are currently being planted.

The alley leads to the main street of Yulgok-ro-3-gil, where hanok-themed photo studios, restaurants, a Baskin Robbins parlor and cafes are clustered closely together.

Yunboseon-gil

The character of Ji Eun-tak talks with a ghost at Yunboseon-gil in The character of Ji Eun-tak talks with a ghost at Yunboseon-gil in "Guardian: The Lonely and Great God." (tvN)
A visitor takes a photo at Yunboseon-gil in Jongno-gu, Seoul, Monday. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald) A visitor takes a photo at Yunboseon-gil in Jongno-gu, Seoul, Monday. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Make a right turn at the end of Yulgok-ro-3-gil and head in the direction of Andong Presbyterian Church and you will find yourself walking along Yunboseon-gil, a gray and dark brown brickstone paved road.

Unlike the high walls of Gamgodang-gil, Yunboseon-gi’s stonewalls are relatively low allowing curious visitors to take a sneak peek at what lies beyond the wall.

This alley is where the character of Eun-tak talked and hung around with ghosts in multiple episodes of “Guardian: The Lonely and Great God,” making the place the series’ most popular site among many drama fans.

Exploring Yunboseon-gil either on Saturdays or Sundays is recommended, as the street becomes a car-free zone, ensuring a quiet and safe experience for visitors.

Hanbok-clad visitors explore Yunboseon-gil, in Seoul, Monday. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald) Hanbok-clad visitors explore Yunboseon-gil, in Seoul, Monday. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Visitors can enrich their travel experience at Yunboseon-gil by taking photos with friends at the self-photo studio Bukchon Studio, or by taking a break with tasty pastries and drinks at Artist Bakery.

Bukchon-ro-5-gil

Visitors walk around Bukchon-ro-5-gil, in Seoul, Monday. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald) Visitors walk around Bukchon-ro-5-gil, in Seoul, Monday. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Before leaving Anguk-dong, make sure to check out the lesser-known alley next to Jeongdok Public Library.

Though it is overshadowed by nearby attractions like the London Bagel Museum Anguk, Blue Bottle Coffee, the Art Sonje Center and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, this narrow alley -- named Bukchon-ro-5-gil -- has its own charms that make it worth a visit.

The street offers a balance of colors with a mix of cement walls and small white and light brown-colored coffee shops.

The gray cement wall is now filled with colorful paintings of South Korea’s independence fighters, including Yu Gwan-sun, Park Yeol and more, to honor their sacrifices for the nation.

Exploring Bukchon-ro-5-gil presents a unique opportunity to take a glimpse into South Korea's past with its low-rise houses, which have been there since before the country became a "Republic of Apartments."

The narrow alley leads to the Bukchon Hanok Village, home to hundreds of traditional Korean houses where visitors can learn about traditional Korean culture at hanok-themed cultural centers, and explore a selection of guesthouses and tea shops.