August 09, 2011 11:56
Locally produced TV dramas have given Korea's tourism industry a boost for many years, with the three islets off Incheon's Yeongjong Island coming into sharper focus in recent years thanks to fans of Korean dramas such as "Full House," which features Rain and was partly shot on location there.
"I started to like Korea after watching 'Full House' when it was televised in Japan," said Japanese student Mayu Ohohyama, referring to the romantic drama that aired on KBS in 2004. "It seems like I'm dreaming now, as I can see the set of the drama in real life."
Mayu decided to visit Sido after being attracted to the country by the popularity of Korean dramas in Japan. When she found that singing K-pop songs at karaoke bars no longer quenched her thirst for Korea's pop culture, she signed up as an exchange student at Kyungwon University in Korea. Of course, this also afforded her many opportunities to travel the country and visit its wealth of beaches, festivals, historic sites and film sets.
Mayu and her Japanese friend chose Sido for their latest excursion after falling for the main character played by singer and actor Rain in "Full House." They took a ferry at Sammok wharf on Yeongjong, then hopped along the islets of Sindo, Sido and Modo, which are connected by a bridge but look like a single land mass when observed from afar.
Sido, once known for its traditional goby fishing, has since become a tourist hot spot after pictures of its beautiful beach and soft sand flashed around Asia via the TV drama.
A ten-minute drive by car from Sindo wharf took the two excited Japanese visitors to a wide beach on which stands a white two-story house. It was their first time here, but they had seen the house many times before.
"The second most popular TV drama after 'Winter Sonata' was 'Full House,' said Mayu as she entered the house. The soap, which also stars Song Hye-kyo, was a huge hit in Japan. To leave a lasting memory among tourists and fans, the producers left it furnished with props to look just as it did when the drama was filmed.
In front of the house lies the beach that is associated with many scenes from the soap. As the tide was out, mud flats sprawled before Mayu and her companion, while families and couples busied themselves digging out crabs and clams.
Another set for the soap "Sad Love Story" (2005) lies nearby, but the Japanese were unable to enter because it was shuttered for repairs. Instead, they relaxed while taking in the views from the woods behind it and snapping photographs.
In Modo, an islet inhabited by only 70 households, they enjoyed Baemikkumi Beach and its unique sculpture park, where around 100 pieces of surrealistic art are displayed on the theme of eroticism.
Ferries to the islands run every hour at Sammok wharf.
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