The Sujeong Cultural Empathy Center also known as Joengnangak is one of Korea’s last remaining buildings from its Japanese colonial period. The building features Japanese traditional architecture. However, this building is an obvious display of the wealth of its original owner – a mansion. The beautiful building is now a museum and a popular filming site. You can find Jeongnangak in the background of numerous K-culture content. As you take a look at the photos, see if you can spot the background of any of your favorite scenes!
History of Jeongnangak
Jeongnangak was built in 1943 during the Japanese colonial period and was a residence for a Japanese entrepreneur. The style of architecture most closely reflects that of the Samurai class. In particular, the resemblance can be seen in the building’s gate and garden.
After Korea was liberated from Japanese rule, the original owner of the home fled the country. It was converted into a luxury restaurant by Japanese citizens who remained in the country. From 1945 until the 1960s, the place continued to operate as a restaurant.
However, in the 1960s and 70s, Jeongnangak became a temporary residence for high-ranking Japanese officials who visited the country. It wasn’t until the 1980s that Koreans were permitted to enter the building for the very first time. Its grand architecture quickly began captivating creatives and directors alike. It became a filming site for a number of classic Korean dramas of the 1980s and 1990s including Son of a General 3 (1992).
In 2007, the house was listed as a National Registered Cultural Heritage and in 2011 the Cultural Heritage Administration actually purchased the building themselves. Since then, it has been featured in a number of K-dramas and K-pop music videos. Some recent features include IU’s Through the night music video and Akdong Musicians’ cover shoot.
Visiting Jeongnangak Now
Jeongnangak is considered to be one of the most well-preserved buildings of the time period. While the lower floor has been remodeled to include an ondol heating system, the top floor is actually still completely original. The top floor includes a tatami room, which is the Japanese equivalent living room complete with woven floor mats. All of the furniture is original. Visitors are prohibited from touching anything or taking pictures in this furniture display area.
While the furniture display part of the house is very restricted, the outside of the home and many of the empty rooms would make an amazing background for a photoshoot! Plus, as with all Korean attractions, there is a cafe. Jeongnangak’s cafe is a great place to sit for a while and enjoy the ambience.
Visiting Jeongnangak was one of the most pleasant experiences I had in Busan. Not to mention, the kindness of senior workers there, which was unparalleled.
When I first walk through the entrance, it felt like a Deja-vu. It turns out this house appeared in the Korean drama ” Hwayugi : The Korean Odyssey”. In addition, IU’s music video “Through the night” (밤편지) (2017) was filmed at Jeongnangak. It was a filming location for quite a few movies too.
Upon entering the building, I saw a Japanese-style courtyard with a beautiful garden. The garden featured decorative stones and trees; typical of a Japanese household. The residence consisted of five buildings. Two of which were wooden houses and the others were concrete buildings.
The key attraction for me was the Tatami mats and the sliding doors which were on the second floor of the house. The direct sunlight pouring through the windows added exquisite beauty to the interior. I could feel the authenticity of the Japanese culture once I stepped inside the house. The beauty and history of the place undoubtedly makes it a must-see destination!
Sujeong Cultural Empathy Center (Jeongnangak) Address: 1010 Sujeong 1(il)-dong, Dong-gu, Busan Korean Address: 부산 동구 홍곡로 75 Operating Hours: Tues - Sun: 10:00 AM - 05:00 PM Mon: Closed
If you’re interested in visiting more Japanese-style buildings in South Korea, Click Here to read all about Nijimura Studio in Gyeonggi-do.