Among the sights to see in the quaint city of Naju (south Jeolla province) is the Naju Image Theme Park – a replica of the Goguryeo dynasty sites used for popular historical dramas such as Jumong, Scarlett Heart, Goblin, and many more.
Check out: Read about the dramas that were shot here
Opening hours are 09:00 – 18:00 from March – October, and 09:00 – 17:00 November – February.
The theme park’s entrance gives off deceiving Indiana Jones vibes, with wooden forts, hiding the jewels of palace architecture that lie behind.
Get your tickets and map at the ticket office just past the entrance – 2,000 won per adult, (1,500 for teens, 1,000 for children under 12) and enter the long Star Road (스타의 거리) with signage of various historical drama shots taken. With every sign you reminisce the majestic scenes of Jumong (주몽) or the beautiful costumes from The King Loves (왕은 사랑한다).
The next arc looks like a fort entrance with flags waiving in the wind above you. Then the alleyway keeps going uphill, with a traditional market selling Japanese-inspired blue ceramic bowls. Note: The only small convenience store is here, that has refreshing ice creams, and the only trash can on site! As you walk higher up, you see more options – go left, right, or straight ahead. The fort-like architecture extends to bigger wings of the fort, pagodas, and palace-room sets.
Contrary to historical sites, there are no plaques with historical information, but your imagination fills in the blanks. Among the structures you can expect an indoor set, a hall of fame about Jumong, the 신단 Sindan rituals pavilion, 졸본부여궁 Jolbon buyeo palace, the 삼족오광장Samjoko Square, the고구려궁 Goguryeo palace, the연못궁 Lotus Pond Palace, and many more, amounting to 29 stunning structures within the park.
Your jaw drops as you see the beautiful Goguryeo dynasty structures, and you get flashbacks of all the historical dramas you have ever watched. Scarlett Heart’s rain ritual, the queen’s quarters, etc. You can almost hear horse’s hooves galloping behind you as you walk the cobble-stoned grounds. Although it might not look as big as on screen, you can definitely sense an air of majesticity and power in the structures. The pointy flags, the sharp edges and corners, and to balance that out, tranquil ponds, views of the river behind, and low-stacked walls.
A unique feature I noticed was the shade of green paint. Contrary to temples, the green paint used here is a light shade of mint-green, rather than the beautiful lush green you usually see in temples.
I will let the pictures speak for themselves ?
I have not added all my photos, so look out for the Full Moon gate, the bridge across the pond, the long corridors with flags, the paintings inside the pavilions, and many more instagrammable photo spots! Tip: if not dressed in hanbok, bring a traditional fan as an appropriate accessory for your photos 🙂 Do you recognize any of the sets?
Once you have feasted your eyes on enough of the Goguryeo dynasty, and taken all the photos your camera can handle, you can cross the street of the entrance and wait for bus 105 back to the 21st century. Get off at Naju terminal. There you can walk to the Gomtang street for some delicious ‘bear soup’ and see Geumseonggwan, a government-owned hotel from the Japanese colony era, the Confucian school, or the museum nearby.
From Gwangju, Naju is a good half hour away by Intercity bus. (Naju terminal or Yeongsanpo terminal which is 10min further south) You can also get there with intra-city buses 160 or 999 from Gwangju, but expect a long journey. Naju also has a train station, so that’s an alternative if you are coming from outside Jeollanamdo province.
From the Naju or Yeongsanpo terminal, you can take the 105 bus. From Naju terminal to the Theme Park takes 50 min.
The bus stops right in front of the Theme Park’s entrance. As you get off, you realize you are in the middle of nowhere, but know that the bus home is just on the other side of the road. This bus doesn’t run often, so time your park visit and bear in the mind the schedule below. This schedule is also available at the ticket office of the theme park.
The 105-bus schedule that matches opening hours is as below.
|Naju Terminal||Yeongsanpo Terminal||Theme Park|
! Note: Naju Terminal is small but has 2 lots, each with a ticket machine. If your destination is not mentioned on the machine when buying a ticket, you are in the wrong lot :). The other lot is on the other side of the (small) bus parking lot.
My article on A day in Naju explains what you can visit downtown before taking the bus/train home.