The Places in Seoul, Cinema Fell in Love With is a free guide from the City of Seoul. Presenting 50 of the most popular film locations in the capital. Great idea to promote the South Korean culture, what’s next? An interactive experience like The World Park?
Anyway, as an introduction, let’s see where some South Korean films have been shot, and also to notice how filmmakers are taking advantage of these locations:
# THE CHASER (NA HONG-JIN, 2008)
The place: Bukahyeon-dong / Ahyeon-dong
What’s interesting about it: Old alleyways & small streets to create a maze: the perfect place for an action sequence, with the murderer of the film trying to escape.
In an interview, the director explained that he “wanted the main space in the film to be a miniature version of the world with all kinds of housing in one place because the audience actually wants to see the kind of places that they live in within movies.”
# CASTAWAY ON THE MOON (LEE HAE-JOON, 2009)
The place: Bamseom
What’s interesting about it: It’s a pair of uninhabited islets in the middle of Seoul, in other words, it’s the ideal setting for a story about a South Korean Robinson Crusoe — in fact, an indebted worker who tried to kill himself by jumping into the Han River, only to wake up on a deserted island, all alone.
The crew of the film stated that “Bamseom is a lot bigger than it looks from a distance and we were shocked to see that it was like being in the middle of tropical forest.”
# PRESIDENT’S LAST BANG (IM SANG-SOO, 2006)
The place: Gwanghwamun Square
What’s interesting about it: It’s located in front of Gwanghwamun, an important historical site said to be the symbol of Seoul’s history.
In the film, there’s this short shot where director Im Sang-soo uses the statue of Admiral Yi Sun-shin to reflect the forthcoming changes, quite symbolic you say? After all, the film deals directly with the recent history of South Korea (the assassination of a president). Some more ideas here, with spoilers.
# THE UNJUST (RYO SEUNG-WAN, 2011)
The place: Gwanghwamun area (on the roof of one of the buildings)
What’s interesting about it: The original title of the film means literally “Bad Deal”, and shows corruption at every level of the society.
The director wanted to shot this dialogue scene – a detective & a gangster making a “bad deal” – in a popular place widely known among the local population. The basic idea? The corruption happens right under your nose, it’s not something special. And be sure to see how the director carefully uses the urban environment to tell his story!
# THE DAY HE ARRIVES (HONG SANG-SOO, 2011)
The place: Bukchon Hanok Village
What’s interesting about it: It’s a small village with traditional Korean houses & a peaceful (artistic) atmosphere, it feels out of time. Nice setting to focus on some relationships. FYI, the film title can be roughly translated as “In the direction of Bukchon”.