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Ever-changing and colorful, Jeju's scenery draws TV and film projects
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승인 2011.04.10  20:08:37
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▲ Jeju’s scenery is the perfect place for movies and dramas. Korean movie stars greatly contributed to creating the Korean Wave. Photo courtesy Jeju MICE

The reason I long for Japan’s winter is the movie “Love Letter” by Iwai Shunji. The image of snow filling the screen and the memory and lost love of a woman exudes throughout. The heart aches.

If there is a color that best represents China, it is crimson red. I learned this purely from the movie “Red Sorghum” by Zhang Yimou. The spirit of red flowed relentlessly throughout. Not only did my eyes turn, but the very image was enough to praise the work of the internationally-acclaimed filmmaker. It stirred the desire to visit China first hand and experience the force of the unique color.

One of the easier ways to interact with a certain nation, area, or community is to view a movie or drama charged with its images. After that comes the yearning, followed by a resolution: to visit “that place.”

Here’s a question: What is your image of Jeju? Every year, many movies and dramas are filmed in Jeju. Considering travel and accommodation expenses for the crew, Jeju doesn’t come cheap. And yet the number of crews visiting Jeju is steadily rising. Perhaps this is proof that the Jeju’s strength has been approved via its visual imagery.

Jeju had long been appraised for its wonderful natural scenery, an asset well-suited to being captured in films. Korea’s renowned directors have always approved of Jeju’s natural surroundings. The internationally-acclaimed director Im Kwon Taek, (“The General’s Son,” “Seopyeon-jae,” “Taebaek Mountain Range,” “Choon Hyang Jun,” and others), praised the island by saying, “I’m in love with Jeju. I love it so much that I couldn’t run away from it even if I tried.”

The director was speaking as he filmed his 100th film “Beyond the Years” in Jeju.

Kim Hyung Koo, Korea’s acclaimed director of photography (“The Host,” “Memories of Murder,” “Rikidozan,” “Musa” and others) was in Jeju for his 1999 film “Les Insurges” and said about the island’s scenery, “I tried desperately to capture the beautiful Jeju just as she was but failed. I regretted this deeply as I realized no medium would do justice to its natural scenery.”

Without a doubt, Jeju’s strength lies in her ever-changing, colorful appearance. She is unpredictable. She may appear gentle and yet suddenly lash out. She may provide at once a warm, comforting wind which changes to violent and blustery in a matter of minutes. She also possesses distinctive areas with historical traditions that contrast delicately with globalism that explain her characteristics as an island and a tourist site. It’s quite charming.

To enjoy Jeju’s nature to the fullest via movie, this reviewer recommends watching “Love Wind, Love Song.”

It was released in 1999 and features two of Korea’s hottest stars: Jang Dong Kun and Ko So Young. The movie sparked a rumor at the time that they were becoming close and even considering tying the knot. The movie drew even more attention because the two stars are now a married couple.

The movie is about a man and a woman (Jang and Ko) and how their love matures with Jeju’s beautiful nature as a backdrop. The island’s main tourist sites appear in the movie, and Jeju’s natural beauty is well-captured. The work is a good example of combining a good story with Jeju’s nature.

Jeju’s historical color is reaffirmed by period dramas. The most renowned works are “Jewel in the Palace” (Dae Jang Keum) and “The Slave Hunters,” which recently recorded the highest viewing rating in Korea.

The first Korean drama to pop up in the Hallyu (“Korean Wave”) discussion is “Jewel in the Palace,” which features tourist sites such as the Jeju Folk Village Museum, “Oedolgae,” “Songak Mountain” and others. In “Jewel in the Palace” Jeju is where the main character Jang Keum lives the most dramatic part of her life. It is where she sees her teacher pass away and also the place where she begins her life as a woman oriental medicine practitioner.

“The Slave Hunters” is a drama pervaded by violent action and which has been likened to Frank Miller’s movie “300.” It sets off Jeju’s traditional features by showing her popular tourist sites like the Jeju Folk Village Museum, Dragon Head Beach, Nutmeg Forest Trail, and the Squirrel Cave.

The drama “All-In” is widely considered to be the best example of a work that captures the idea of globalism. Set against the harmonized set of “All-In”’s natural scenery and ICC Jeju, the drama is credited for drawing the attention of Asia to Jeju.

Starring the actor Bae Yong Joon (“Yonsama”), the drama “The Legend” used Jeju as the set for its fantasy theme. It was aired in several nations throughout Asia.

Recently, Jeju is getting the spotlight as a substitute setting for fantasy for her mythical image.

Jeju’s mythical image and its natural colorfulness harmonize well in the fantasy genre fantasy in “The Legend.” The work truly captured the awe and the interest of its viewers which is indescribable in words. The Jocheon-eup Myosan-bong castle set, the drama’s main background, become a tourist attraction long after the drama had aired.

The movies and dramas filmed in Jeju share a sense of unique relationship with the Hallyu stars.

“Shiri (1999)” featuring the actress Kim Youn Jin — who starred in the TV show “Lost” — made the Shilla Jeju Hotel famous by using it as a set. The same year, “Love Wind, Love Song,” was released. “Roommate (2000),” starring Jun Ji Hyun and Lee Jung Jae, was filmed in Udo.

Jeju entered the spotlight in Asia via Korean Wave with the works of “All-In (2003)” starring Lee Byung Hun and Song Hye Kyo and “Jewel in the Palace” starring Lee Young Ae and Jhee Jin Hee. The drama “Spring Day (2005),” starring actors Cho In Sung, Ko Hyun Jung and Jhee, captured the beauty of Biyangdo’s scenery and the actress Choi Ji Woo, who is popular in Japan, starred in the film “Now and Forever” which was filmed entirely in Udo.

The 2007 drama “The Legend” starred Bae Yong Joon, and actors Kwon Sang Woo and Song Seung Hun starred in the movie “Fate (2008)” which was filmed within Jeju City.

In 2009 the Korean version of the Japanese drama “Boys Over Flowers” was filmed behind the Seaes Hotel in Jeju and aired in the many Asian countries. And actors Lee Byung Hun and Jhee Sung visited Jeju again as their work “Iris” and “Swallow the Sun,” respectively, were filmed in Jeju.

The entire island of Jeju boasts a natural set for movies and dramas. As a result, Jeju shares an ongoing interaction with the Hallyu stars as Jeju is literally etched onto their filmography. And Jeju will continue to appear in movies and dramas with newer images. The images of Jeju found in various films stimulate the five senses.

What is your image of Jeju?

(Translation by Kevin Lee)
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (
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