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[Drama Tour] Follow Suwon’s fortress to find traces of ‘Lovely Runner’

June 15, 2024 - 16:01 By Lee Si-jin
"Lovely Runner" (tvN)

SUWON, Gyeonggi Province -- Suwon has been one of the country’s iconic travel destinations, beckoning both local and overseas travelers with a unique charm by blending old and new.

As soon as tourists step foot in Suwon, they can spot the Hwaseong Fortress -- one of the country's UNESCO World Heritage sites -- from almost anywhere in the city.

Looking at high-rise, glass-covered buildings from the centuries-old stone walls is one of the many spectacular aspects the fortress has to offer. This tourist attraction has also become a popular date spot among young couples and friends, especially after the recent romance series "Lovely Runner" became a hit TV show.

The 16-part series features the story of idol group member Ryu Seon-jae (played by Byeon Woo-seok), who commits suicide, and his passionate fan, Im Sol (played by Kim Hye-yoon), who goes back to the past to save him.

Though there are many ways to enjoy this historic city of Suwon, walking along the 5.74-kilometer-long fortress walls is the perfect way to explore all the "Lovely Runner" filming spots.

Yongyeon Pond is a great starting point to set off on the tour.

Yongyeon Pond (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)
People enjoy their time on the walking trail near Yongyeon Pond on Tuesday. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

“Yongyeon,” meaning “a pond where a dragon stays” in Korean, is a small park where visitors can enjoy a light walk for daily exercise or a picnic with their family.

“It might be a tourist spot for people from outside Suwon, but Yongyeon is a quiet resting place for many older people like myself. I come here to share my daily life with friends, watch cute children play along with their moms and dads, and smile,” Ryu Jeom-hyo, a Suwon-based resident in her 70s, told The Korea Herald on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a passionate drama fan surnamed Kim shared that this area is where Seon-jae helped Sol ride a bicycle in "Lovely Runner."

"The scene was shot at night, but walking along the trail during the day is not bad at all. I will certainly step by this place when I visit Suwon with my friends," a 23-year-old university student added.

Tourists can either head to Yeonmu-dong's public parking lot to take a glimpse of Seon-jae and Sol’s way to school or visit Northeastern Corner Pavilion -- “Banghwasuryujeong” in Korean -- to take in the scenic view of Suwon and its carefully preserved fortress.

If you follow the short downhill from the pavilion, Hwahongmun Watergate stands right around the corner.

Hwahongmun Watergate (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)
Seon-jae reveals his feelings for Sol at the bridge near Hwahongmun Watergate in "Lovely Runner." (tvN)

While other tourists might be interested in the traditional Korean architecture of the beautiful seven stone arches and picturesque view of Suwoncheon Stream at this Watergate, “Lovely Runner” fans will head to the stone bridge where Seon-jae confessed his feelings for Sol.

After serving as a stunning backdrop for the confession scene, Hwahongmun Watergate has attracted more travelers and locals who enjoy its beautiful reflection in the stream both day and night. However, the highlight of Hwahongmun Watergate is the experience inside the wooden pavilion.

A visitor enjoys a cool breeze blowing inside the pavilion at Hwahongmun Watergate in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province on Tuesday. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Visitors can rest after taking their shoes off with the cool breeze blowing inside the pavilion. The windows become frames to capture the beauty of the Suwoncheon, the main stream flowing through Hwaseong Fortress.

Those who wish to immerse themselves in the lives of Seon-jae and Sol can make another 10-minute walk following the fortress trail and head to Hwaseomun-ro -- popularly known as Haengridan-gil -- which is a street filled with trendy shops, popular dessert cafes and self-photo studios for youngsters and the young at heart.

Bakery and dessert shop Mong Ted has became one of the most sought-after places in Suwon after being featured as Sol’s house in “Lovely Runner.”

The familiar yellow umbrella greets drama fans, allowing them to instantly recognize the cafe's entrance, where the romantic rainy scene in the second episode was filmed.

Drama fans can enjoy drinks with other delicacies. They can check out the blue gate to Seon-jae’s home as well.

Visitors pass by the iconic blue gate of Seon-jae's house from "Lovely Runner" in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province on Tuesday. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)
Tourists visit cafe Mong Ted, where Im Sol lives in "Lovely Runner." (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Proving its popularity, the area was filled with local and overseas drama fans, sharing their thoughts and feelings after visiting the lead characters’ houses in real life and taking photos.

However, please be considerate when visiting these locations to protect the residents from noise, litter and invasions of privacy.

"Lovely Runner" (tvN)

In this series, The Korea Herald introduces travel destinations featured in hit drama series with the hope of inspiring readers to immerse themselves in the popular scenes and scenery of their favorite shows. -- Ed.