I finally set foot on Jeju island, known as “The Hawaii of Asia.” I had wanted to visit the island when I was here 10 years ago but never got the chance. I often lamented that missed opportunity and swore if I returned I wouldn’t leave the country without spending time on Jeju. Mission complete! I can go home now :)
One of the first things on my list of things to do on the island was to visit the Jeju Folk Village in the southern region of Pyoseon. Yes, there are plenty of folk villages to see on the mainland but this one is special because it’s also the shooting location for parts of one of my favourite Korean dramas, called Daejanggeum (대장금), also known as Jewel in the Palace or the Great Jang Geum.
DJG is based on a true story of the first female doctor during the Chosun Dynasty over 500 years ago. She began her career as a cook in the palace of the king and worked her way up to becoming a royal cook to a royal physician, then to the personal physician of the king himself. This historical drama ran for a whopping 54 episodes, (most K-dramas run for 20 episodes or so) and had the biggest international following of any K-drama to date during its airtime 12 years ago.
I had wanted to watch this drama for ages but due to the garbage internet packages in Canada (I’m looking at you, Rogers), I could never afford to stream the episodes online without paying through the teeth for the data usage. So when I came back to Korea, the land of unlimited internet data (you pay one flat fee for home internet here), I set my sights on Daejanggeum right away. Now here I am. Full circle, on vacation and in the hotspot of where DJG was filmed. I had to control myself not to run up to the ticket booth like a spastic child.
I also made a short video of some highlights of my village exploration. To check it out, press play below:
A bus from the intercity bus terminal in Jeju city took about an hour and 20 minutes and I was at the door of the traditional village. If you’re staying in Seogwipo city in the south, it will take less time to get there. Entrance fee is 10,000 won (approx. $11 CAD) and audio guides are available in English, Chinese and Japanese for an additional 2,000 won (you can hear my audio guide in the video above). For more information on the Jeju Folk Village click here.