가자 Korea Diary 10: Filming Location of K-drama Heartstrings @ Seoul Institute of the Arts, Ansan [With Vlog]

8 years ago, I was forced to watch a Korean drama while I was on a school bus by my junior, Victoria. I was trying to take a nap while she pestered me to watch the show with her and insisted that I should open my eyes immediately because..."the lead actor is cute and he plays the guitar!"

Little did I know, that moment would get me so hooked on that drama, titled "You've Fallen For Me 넌 내게 반했어", which is also known as "Heartstrings". It's a youth melodrama with 15 episodes about dreams, friendship and dreams of a bunch of students from a performing arts college.

Once I opened my eyes from my failed attempt to nap, in less than 2 minutes, this part of the show became the catalyst of my no-turning-back Korean craze. That's how this guitar playing dude named  Lee Shin in drama (played by Jung Yong Hwa), entered my life. The rest's just history...   

When I finished watching that drama when I was 17 years old, I made a vow to myself that I must visit that school. And, I made it happened!!

While I was doing my research for my Korea trip, I found out that Heartstrings was shot at this university called the Seoul Institute of the Arts 서올예술대학교 (예대), located in Ansan.

However, I didn't know that it's quite far away from Seoul until Juho oppa asked me about my itinerary when we were at Nami IslandI said, "I'll be heading to Ansan tomorrow" and he was shocked, "Ansan? Why are you going so far away on your own?"

That's when I learnt it's about 1.5 hour (one way) from Hapjeong - where I was living at that time. Nevertheless, I had to go there. It's a promise I made to myself though the idea of traveling in the subway for approximately 3 hours in one day didn't seem fascinating.

Here's the vlog that I created with my Snapchat stories. Enjoy~ 

I went out very early that day and grabbed a steamed Jeju bun with red beans from a bakery near the Hapjeong subway station. I already had my banana milk on the way out of my Airbnb ㅎㅎㅎ 

The subway was full. 

I ended up standing for 45 minutes or so before an empty seat showed up. 

I got off the subway at Ansan Station 안산역 then realized I was lost. After spending a good 15 minutes or so walking in and out of the subway station trying to figure things out on Naver map because there wasn't anyone around for me to ask directions at all, I discovered that the right subway station would be Jungang Station 중앙역 instead of Ansan.  

Once I got back onto the subway, I came across a group of students wearing the jackets that said "Seoul Institute of the Arts". I followed them all the way after getting out at Exit 1 @ Jungang Station - stalker mode on! 

If it wasn't for them, I didn't even know that I'd need to take a bus after the subway to get to the school.

I gotta admit, I'm not the type of person who plans meticulously when it comes to my personal life. It's adding stress to something that should be fun. I don't like that. Life is about living, not about planning. To me, a checklist of things will suffice and I'll work things out as I go.

At Jungang station, bus 77 took those students and I to the entrance of the Seoul Institute of the Arts. 

Gotta walk for 2-3 minutes up the hill. The hike wasn't as bad as Ewha's but hey didn't I say that the Korean universities tend to be built on slopes or hills HAHA!

I put 2 soundtracks from the Heartstrings' drama here. You will be able to spot the school in these videos. Have fun listening while going through my post :) 

First building I saw after the hike. It's so surreal to be able to see this in person. 

I was super excited when I saw this red bridge. I just couldn't believe my eyes. The dream that I kept to myself for 7 years...it's right in front of me.

It was one of the signature features of the school that was shown in the drama a lot. 

This appeared quite a fair bit in the drama too. 

Took me quite a while to register that because it was autumn when I was there and the drama was shot during summer back in 2011, that's why the "green wall" was no where to be found, duh.

See how green it was in the drama. That huge contrast.

Huge banner that showing off the school's famous alumni.

I didn't know that Yoo Jae Suk (the MC from Running Man / the national MC of South Korea) graduated from the Seoul Institute of the Arts.

OMG...I couldn't help it but I teared up again like I did when I arrived at Ewha when I saw this landscape.

The name of the school was taken down in the drama and that's the spot where the kids were playing fireworks at in episode 8.

Gossip Girl fans have their Met steps and this was my version of Met steps. 

The staircase where Lee Shin found Gyuwon crying alone and he gave her a hug and said, "You're not allowed to cry when I'm not around" after he sang this song to her through the PA system. 


They shot this music battle up there. That's the scene that got me addicted to the show.

The place where the audition for 100th anniversary performance was held in the drama.

I thought these mirrors were just decorative props for the drama but it's surprising to find them standing tall on the campus ground after 7 years.

Dirty mirror selfie. I got the pastel pink sweater from SPAO, which I mentioned in this blog post here. My outfits were pretty simple throughout the trip. I was just playing with some pastel coloured tops while everything else remained the same.

I've loved this little booth thingy since the drama days. There's a scene which Lee Shin and Gyuwon came here for a date which left a cute impression to me.

I chilled here for a good 30 minutes doing nothing...Just enjoyed the autumn breeze while listening to the soundtracks of the drama and reliving the scenes inside my head!

The school hallway that appeared a lot in the drama too. 

Too bad I didn't get to enter the library as only those with student cards were allowed. Really wanted to check it out after watching the drama.

This would be where the teachers' offices were in the drama.

After so many years, I finally understood the saying of "it's not about the movie, it's about the movie goers".

To other people, this might just be a school and definitely not worth a 3-hour journey but it has such a great meaning to me. 

Every corner of the school brought back so much memory for me - not just the drama scenes, but also my 17-year-old self. How innocent and how eager to grow up I was...I couldn't understand a single Korean word back then and the dream of stepping on Kimchiland seemed so far fetched that even dreaming about it was a luxury.

How far I had come...Good times, good times. There'll be more to come!

One more around of photos as I slowly made my way down the hill to catch the bus to the subway station.

Gosh...the feeling of making my own dream come true after all these years. Gotta give myself a small pat on the back. 

Bus 77 took me here, so I waited for bus 77 again to bring me back to Jungang station because I was too tired to read through the Korean words to see if the other 2 buses would pass by. Sloth mode to the highest level.

Bought a sweet potato cake at the subway station and headed back to Seoul city for my very first shopping trip.

Do catch up on the previous blog posts too while you are here :D

I'm splitting this day's travel schedule into 2 parts because it's too much of a photo spam for this blog post. See you in the next one!

PS: I don't own any of those still shots from the drama. I took them off Google images and Naver. 

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