Today, I visited Samseong-dong, a vibrant and upscale area of Gangnam-du. I had no real plan for the day. Remember, I adopted ‘the plan is there is no plan’ motto while traveling in Seoul a few days ago.
My many K-treasures have forced my hand into purchasing a second suitcase to get everything back home to Chicago safely. I chose Samseong-dong for a couple of reasons. One: there was an extensive underground mall there (The Coex Mall) and I was, after all, in the market for some luggage; and Two: Samseong – dong is an affluent area where it is said many K-actors, actresses and like live, including Rain. So it was a sentimental, fangirly choice. 🙂
Then something occurred to me. The K-drama loving fangirl that I am realized that I was most probably in the vicinity of where two dramas I have watched may have been filmed. Yeah, this could be complete speculation, but I felt I was on to something.
Within the Coex Mall is an aquarium and this aquarium, the Coex Mall Aquarium, is the only aquarium in Seoul. My mind traveled to a one Gong Yoo in perhaps my least favorite of his dramas, One Fine Day. I managed through it for one reason and one reason only:
Need I say more? Aquarium portions of the drama were filmed at the aquarium in Busan (first 6 episodes) and the Coex Aquarium (remaining eps). I wanted to see the spot where GY’s Suh Gun tells Sung Yu Ri’s Suh Ha Neul he loves her. She was submerged in the tank, he was standing on the other side. It was a simple romantic moment and it was sweet. And here I was…standing in the spot he was standing but all I saw were fish!
Now normally I am not one to promote animals in captivity; however, if living in this environment gives these little (and some big) critters an extended life, then I am down with that. The wonders of the world underneath the water are many and the Coex Mall Aquarium had a little of everything, even bats!!
These next couple of shots were taken at the glass wall where many scenes of One Fine Day were most likely filmed. I waited for you, Gong Yoo, but in the end it was just me and the fish!
My favorite are the jellyfish. They are ethereal, graceful and move with such fluidity.
Oh yeah…the bats.
I admit, the aquarium was pretty cool. But it was indeed ramped up for me knowing that at one time it was a K-drama set. 🙂
But that’s not all. I had another K-drama revelation. Way back when I was crushing on Lee Min Ho in Faith, I made a mental note that if I ever visited Seoul, I wanted to visit the Buddhist statute LMH’s Choi Young is thrust through time and falls at the feet of. I had no idea where it was, who it was, what it was, or if it was constructed specifically for the drama and not even real. But in watching him move through that scene, it appeared that wherever it was, it was across the street from something called The Coex Convention Center.
Now imagine me asking the dudes in the luggage shop…where is the Buddhist statue in the K-drama, Faith? Oh, you can better believe I asked!! I just had this instinctual feeling that I was close by and that it really existed. But they were looking at me like was crazy! Then the elder of the two store clerks had a revelation. Do you know the feeling when there is a language barrier and all of the sudden you understand?? This is EXACTLY what happened. My good ahjusshi lit up! He yelled Bongeunsa Temple!! Then proceeded to give me directions. I was indeed in the right place and THAT statue did exist!
If you have seen Faith….here are my pictures:
Here are screen shots from the drama:
Just like I waited for Gong Yoo to show at the aquarium, I waited for Lee Min Ho to spontaneously appear in his Choi Young gear complete with sword. I would have asked him to carry that piece of luggage I just bought down the hill to street level. It was hike and he would have obliged! 🙂
A little history here about Bonguensa Temple. It was built in 794 C.E. and became the head temple of the Seon sect during the Joseon Dynasty when the government supported Confucianism while oppressing Buddhism. The statue itself is named Mireuk Daebul (Great Statue of Maitreya Buddha). Maitreya is the future Buddha who vows to save sentient beings in the era after the lifetime of Sakyamuni Buddha. This statue depicts Maitreya coming down to earth to save all those who are suffering. The stone that comprise this statue was carried all the way from Iksan in Jeolla Province to Seoul (about 112 miles) which is a stronghold of the Maitreya faith.
I went to Bongeunsa Temple because the LMH fangirl in me thought it would be cool. I walked away knowing that I tasted yet another piece of Seoul’s incredible history. I spent about an hour and a half talking to two volunteers at the foreign information booth on the temple grounds. Of course, we talked about Rain, a lot, simply because I mentioned to them that I was present at his MS discharge. They were astounded and delighted. But we also talked about how most temples in Korea are in remote areas, in the mountains far from civilization which sets Bonguensa apart as it sits right in the center of the city. Amid the fast pace of Seoul, Bonguensa was a serene oasis. The windchimes seemed to drown out the traffic and it was peaceful and welcoming. K-drama, educational and entertaining! I’m here to tell ya, don’t knock the K-drama until you tried it.
Here are some more shots of Bonguensa:
Wait a second…how did he get in there???!! Fangirl fantasy moment: Rain in a temple being meditative, introspective and beautiful. Couldn’t resist. ;p
My day started with a hunt for a piece of luggage and ended at a Buddhist temple. It was a day well spent AND the sun was out briefly! Tomorrow I think I will visit Cube Entertainment – because…why not?? 🙂