Busan is a beloved location for movies and K-dramas. One such web drama, Cafe Midnight, is set in the Sanbok Road region of Busan. Its popularity has led to the drama being extended to three seasons, and a film being prepared for release. Busan Tourism Organization and the producers of Cafe Midnight have prepared a special tour for the fans of the drama, the “Cafe Midnight Tour,” where the characters in the drama serve as tour guides and introduce the hidden sights and history of Busan.
Dae-cheol, the comic relief and arguably a breakout character for the web drama, leads the participants to the filming sites featured in Cafe Midnight with interesting tidbits from Busan’s history and culture, ending with a special screening of the show. Indeed, many fans of the drama have already taken part in the tour, and satisfaction has been quite high. The tour starts from Busan Station. Meet up with your fellow travelers and start the tour with Dae-cheol! Ibagu-gil Road lies just a crossing away from Busan Station.
The first spot on the tour itinerary is Brown Hands Baekje, the setting for the feature episode of Cafe Midnight. This handsome cafe is situated in the restored and remodeled Baekje Hospital building, which was originally built in 1927. Because it is registered as Registered Cultural Heritage No. 647, the building still retains its floors and exterior quite well. Indeed, the gate to the building is a wonderful place to take a picture for its charming combination of retro style and contemporary architecture.
Following the Ibagu-gil Road brings one to the Mural Alley, which details the history of the Choryang-dong area. Black-and-white pictures on the school walls offer a window into historical Busan. The origins of the village go back to 1950, the year of the Korean War. War refugees made their way to Busan to flee the war, and began to settle in ramshackle shantytowns built on steep slopes with winding staircases. Sadly, many of the refugees were unable to return to their hometowns after the war. In that sense, Choryang-dong’s Ibagu-gil Road can be said to have been created by the tragedy that befell the war refugees.
After the Mural Alley, one finds oneself in front of a dizzyingly high and long staircase. Because there are 168 steps, this staircase is known as the 168 Stairs. It is the quickest path from Sanbok Road to the Port of Busan. While today’s 168 Stairs is also served by a monorail system, many of the area’s residents in the past were forced to climb the steep stairs on the way to their work at the Port of Busan or the factories, or even to draw water from the well. When one looks up to the staircase from below, it feels as if one can feel the massive burden of life on one’s shoulders.
Tour participants stop here to listen to the history of Choryang-dong and see the filming spots featured in Cafe Midnight. Fans of the drama will enjoy the chance to take pictures at the same angles that were featured in the show.
A trip on the monorail system brings one to the view of not only the winding alleyways of the neighborhood and the houses, but also the Port of Busan and Busanhangdaegyo Bridge. When one disembarks from the monorail, one immediately comes to an observatory with an open view of the Busan sea.
Ibagu-gil Road is particularly valuable for the fans of Cafe Midnight, as the protagonists of the TV show commute to their school along the road. On the way up, there’s a spot called Dangsan, where people hold rites for the prosperity and peace of village.
One then takes a bus to Choryang 1941 and Ibagu Camp. The two sites and their wonderful views of the area from the top of the Sanbok Road area are featured in the show as well. Because of the wonderful views, a guesthouse and a number of accommodation facilities were built in this area. After their completion, they immediately established themselves as places with great views on Korean SNS channels.
Participants here try to replicate the shots shown on the drama, unable to hide their smiles and joy. Many participants actually reported that this spot, at the top of Sanbok Road, was the place where they fell in love with Busan; this place, where the past and present of Busan meet, is certainly a special place for visitors to Busan.
After spending some time at Ibagu Camp, the group then moves to Yeongju Sky Eye Observatory. This is certainly a standout among the various observatories located on Sanbok Road, especially for its simply breathtaking panoramic view of the area, so it is a must-visit place for travelers in Busan.
The view from the observatory encompasses everything from the winding Sanbok Road to Sinseondae Terrace in Nam-gu, Busanhangdaegyo Bridge, Bongnaesan Mountain in Yeongdo-gu, and Busan Tower in Jung-gu. The view laid out below is a mosaic of the past and the present, from old public apartments to houses built on terraces and high-rise buildings.
Whether it be portrait or scenery photography, one is guaranteed to bring home a picture of one’s life from Yeongju Sky Eye Observatory. Indeed, I recommend heading to this observatory to see the most authentic scenery of Busan.
The sun is setting, and the night is inching into the area. The tour group moves to the eponymous “Cafe Midnight” featured in the drama, Haein Cafe. One passes through a vine tunnel to access the charming view at Haein Cafe.
Here, the group enjoys a delicious dinner with coffee and beverages featured in the drama. Some participants quickly finish their dinner and go on into the vine tunnel to leave their photographs, just like the protagonists in the drama.
The view from Haein Cafe overlooks Songdo Beach, where gentle lighting and forests come together to create a beautiful view at night.From the history of Sanbok and Ibagu-gil Road to the wonderful scenery along the way, there is no risk of boredom.
The tour ends with a screening of Cafe Midnight at the Corner Theater, and a Q&A session with the director of the show.
The participants get together for a final group shot at the Baegwol photo zone as the very final step in the Cafe Midnight Tour. All stops on the tour hold up excellently on their own and are perfect for introducing the charms of Busan to travelers, so those who are planning their own trip can take some cues from the itinerary. All proceeds from this tour event will be donated to Miaewon, the oldest orphanage in the Busan area located on Sanbok Road, so one can walk away knowing that the tour has been of benefit to other folks as well.
Cafe Midnight Tour https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bfqGD7H9qk