By PAM RANCES
Special thanks to KOREA TOURISM ORGANIZATION
The retro junkie in me reached seventh heaven when the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) arranged a trip for us to visit a K-Drama filming location that consists of military game zones and buildings reminiscent of the Joseon period in the 1800s.
Nonsan Sunshine Land, which is located at Nonsan-si, Chungcheongnam-do, one of the filming locations for the popular K-Drama show Mr. Sunshine, is a 32,497-square-meter facility that took three years to build, costing approximately $9 million (10 billion won).
South Korea’s main goal in opening the theme park to the public was to let locals and foreign tourists experience what it is like to be a part of the country’s military force. With this in mind, several facilities were built, including virtual reality military games, combat sports arena, and a survival experience center. As you approach the entrance, you will see replica fighter jets, military tanks, and helicopters display where you can stop and pose for a picture.
After a short walk at Sunshine Land, we saw Mr. Ann, manager of Sunshine Studio, flashing a welcoming smile. “We get an estimate of 30,000 visitors monthly here. Welcome to Sunshine Studio,” he said.
We were told that 70 percent of the K-Drama Mr. Sunshine, starring Lee Byung-hun and Kim Tae-ri, was filmed here.
For those who are not familiar with the TV series, it is a story about a boy from a poor family returning to his homeland after becoming an officer in the American military. Then he falls in love with the daughter of an aristocrat. The drama revolves around class struggle, historical traditions, and war.
Traditional Korean designs, Japanese culture, and Western culture inspired the architecture behind the drama-filming site. The landscape allocates special areas for each where you could have your pictures taken as well. In fact, to complete the feel and experience, you can also play dress-up by renting costumes at the Sunshine Studio. Selections range from Japanese kimonos, 1900s Western clothing, and traditional Korean hanbok.
Address: 102, Bonghwang-ro, Yeonmu-eup, Nonsan-si,Chungcheongnam-do, South Korea
How to get there: Take a train (KTX, ITX, Mugunghwa,Nuriro) from Yongsan Station and get off at NonsanStation. From Nonsan Station Bus Stop, take Bus No.216 and get off at Hwangha 4(sa)-ri Bus Stop. Walk for approximately 10 minutes.
Nonsan Sunshine Land: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closes at 7 p.m. from November to February)
Sunshine Studio: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Closed every Monday (Closed every Wednesday from November to February)
Sunshine Land (Military Experience Center and 1950s Open Film Set): Free
Sunshine Studio: 7,000 won ($5.96)