Asia, South Korea, Travel Diaries

Falling in Love with Namiseom Island (The Great Seoul Searching Trip Day 4)

A true-blue K-Drama addict would of course knew about “Winter Sonata”.

Televised in 2002, Winter Sonata is part of the Endless Love installment by director Yoon Seok-Ho and stars Choi Ji Woo and Bae Yoong Joon. This drama, along with its “siblings,” — “Autumn in my Heart” (2000), “Summer Scent” (2003) and my personal favorite, “Spring Waltz” (2006). The “Endless Love” series buoyed the Korean Wave in the 1990s and the 2000s, not only in Asia but also in the West. “Winter Sonata” was also filmed in Namiseom or Nami Island located in Bangha-ri, Namsan-myeon, Chuncheon-si by the Bukhangang River.

Winter Sonata

Winter Sonata scenes

When I was still researching for our itinerary for South Korea, I was immediately drawn to Nami Island, not only because my sister and I were K-Drama buffs but due in part also to the rave reviews of the people who have been there. True, Nami Island is not a theme park where there is always something to do. But if you’re the type of person who wants a temporary respite from the hustle and bustle of Seoul, then Namiseom is for you.

How to go there
Going to Nami Island is not easy. In our case, from Myeongdong — we chose to take the subway, then change to an ITX (a faster train, similar to the KTX, which covers transit to and from Seoul to neighboring provinces). However, truth is we rode the ITX train by mistake as we failed to transfer to a regular train in Sambong Station but got lost along the way. Anyway, the mistake saved us time since the ITX does not stop on all the train stations.

Should this happen to you, do not panic. Inside the ITX are friendly train stewardesses who will issue you a proper ticket. Do not hesitate to approach them and explain the situation.

What we did is from Myeongdong Station, we took the subway going to Seoul Station where we transferred train lines going to Sambong Station. This is where we were supposed to take the regular train going to Gapyeong (the nearest train station to Nami Island).

Nami

Subway to Nami Island

The sign that says we’re in the right station, but we boarded the wrong train! 🙂

You can also take the bus going to Nami Island.
* You may opt to catch the bus on two stops, Insa-dong and at the exit 4 of Jamsil Subway Station. Bus tickets cost KRW7,500 for one-way and KRW 15,000 for round trip.

Directions for bus travel going to Nami Island from Insadong

Outside Gapyeong Station, there’s already a taxi stand in front. Just tell the taxi driver that you are going to the Nami Ferry Station. Fare is between KRW4,000 to KRW5,000 (PHP148-185.00). The driver will bring you exactly to the parking area of the Nami Republic (the name they call Nami Island).

The entrance to the Namirara Republic. You have to present your “visa” at the immigration

Entrance to Namirara is already inclusive of round trip Ferry Ride and costs KRW10,000 per person while foreigners get a KRW2,000 discount. From the immigration, you will line up at the plank to wait for the incoming ferry which will shuttle you to the island. For the adventurous, you may also opt to cross the river via zip line (separate charges apply).

Namiseom Ferry

This is the gateway to the Namirara Experience!

ferry to Namiseom

These guys have finished their tour of Namiseom. We boarded the same ferry after a while

More than a tourist destination, Nami Island is a place which encourages and cultivates the love for the arts and culture. Upon disembarking from the ferry, my sister and I decided to get BingRae ice cream (the one with vanilla ice cream sandwiched in fish shaped waffle and with red bean paste) and sit in a bonfire situated near a make-shift stage where an old gentleman is playing the saxophone. While we have no idea what he was playing, he was really good. Surrounded by seniors clapping enthusiastically on the performance, my sister and I thoroughly enjoyed our fifteen minutes, eating ice cream, getting warmed by the bonfire while enjoying good music.

A great welcome to Namirara!

Then, we started touring the island. <WARNING: PHOTO HEAVY POST!!!)

This place does not deserve long rhetorics. I'll have the pictures do the talking!

Nami Map

Nami Island

Just like a painting…

Nami Island

The perfect place to reflect and just be in awe.

Nami Island

The perfect place to ask for a “piggy back ride”

Feeling “Winter Sonata-fied”?

Truth be told, Nami Island is “Winter Sonata-fied” The places featured in the drama are marked all through out the island. There’s also a small memorabilia wall featuring pictures from the filming, as well as a nice tribute to the director of all four “Endless Love” series.

Winter Sonata first kiss

The site of Winter Sonata’s first kiss!

Of course we had to take pictures!

There is a funny story behind the picture above. My sister and I were still adjusting the tripod when two couples also stopped on the same spot, as if waiting for us to finish. I think they’re looking forward to recreating the “kiss scene”. We can sense that they are getting impatient, but hey–we traveled across the sea to experience this! Bear with us! When we left after three minutes, they were still there, no longer smiling and I can sense that the girls are already annoyed and not feeling Choi Ji-Wooish any longer 🙂

Nami Bike Lane

The “famous” Bike Lane

Yongha Tribute Nami Island

There’s a plaque dedicated to the memory of Winter Sonata second male lead, Park Yong Ha, who took his own life in 2010

Nami Island Winter Sonata

The famous tree-lined road where the lovers kiss… in reality, it’s hard to even take a picture due to the crowd who have the same thing in mind. The empty space here is a rarity

Life-sized statue of the two leads

The place is the perfect location for engagement photos. If you’re the type who loves traveling and would like your engagement photos to have the K-Drama appeal (romantic but not cloyingly sweet), why not plan a trip to Nami Island with your friends and ask them to be your official photographers?

I’d really like to go back in Winter (even if its kills me) because I want to see Nami Island covered in snow, it must have been magical.

For more information, visit: www.namisum.com

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