The tropical beauty of the Philippines has never failed to charm locals and foreigners alike. Even Korean celebrities love to go here for a quick escape. So, it should come as no surprise that the Philippines has been a choice of filming location for a number of Korean dramas and movies. Some are dreamy and romantic, some lighthearted, and some action-packed.
If you’re a Hallyu fan dreaming of an excursion around popular K-drama filming locations, why not start in your own backyard? It’s also a good time to rekindle your appreciation of the Philippines—the way South Koreans admire it.
Here are South Korean dramas and movies and their featured Philippine destinations where you can retrace the steps of your favorite Korean stars.
Hindsight (2011) | Featured Destination: Mactan, Cebu
Hindsight is a Korean action film that morphs into a love story as a retired gangster and his assassin fall for each other. It stars Song Kang-ho, whom you may recognize as the Kim family patriarch in Parasite. The movie mainly takes place in Busan, South Korea. However, in the end, the characters would find themselves living their dream life on the idyllic island of Mactan, Cebu. The scenes were filmed at Hadsan Cove Resort.
When you see Song Kang-ho on a bangka (fisherman’s boat) and female lead Shin Se-kyung hitching at the back of a tricycle, there’s no mistaking it’s in the Philippines. The laidback, romantic vibe of these happy-ever-after scenes would make you want to go on a sunset cruise in Mactan.
Jeon Woochi (2009) | Featured Destination: Boracay
If you recently found a new idol in Peninsula actor Gang Dong-won, you should know that he’s starred in many other films and Jeon Woochi is one of his classics. He plays a rascally Taoist wizard who wanders in present-day Korea to catch escaped goblins from the past.
This fantasy-comedy movie was shot in different parts of Korea, and Boracay was the only location outside of the country. Woochi’s human love interest wished to be at a gorgeous beach, and he teleported her to Boracay out of all places. It reminds you that this beach destination really harbors many things special.
Romantic Island (2008) | Featured Destination: Boracay
Fans of Parasite would be thrilled to know that another actor from its top billing, Lee Sun-kyun, has filmed in the Philippines. He stars alongside Lee Soo-kyung, Lee Min-ki, and Eugene in Romantic Island. The movie follows three Korean couples’ getaway to Boracay, two of which only develop their love stories on the island.
It features the characters’ many adventures (even misadventures) around the town that it feels more like a travel show than a movie at times. It would definitely inspire you to explore more places beyond the white-sand beaches of Boracay.
No Breathing (2013) | Featured Destination: Davao
This sports drama film centers on the competition between two young swimmers, played by Seo In-guk and Lee Jong-suk, who are also vying for the love of one woman. The actors and crew filmed in various locations in the Davao region, including Samal Island, Davao del Norte Sports Complex, Aldevinco Shopping Center, and Marco Polo Hotel. Their soul-searching moments on the peaceful shore of Pearl Farm Beach Resort, Samal, are some of the most memorable.
Master (2016) | Featured Destination: City of Manila
If you live in Manila, here’s an easy one to check off your list. Master is an action-packed movie that’s also starring Gang Dong-won, this time together with Kim Woo-bin and Lee Byung-hun. Although they also reportedly filmed in Bulacan and Cebu, the historic districts of Manila are the Philippine locations highlighted in the film.
A lot of action, gunfights, and car chases took place on the streets of Tondo and Binondo, including the iconic Jones Bridge. But also, viewers get a glimpse of proud Filipino heritage in the featured ancestral architecture where the self-indulgent antagonists stayed and the Manila Cathedral.
The Fugitive: Plan B (2010) | Featured Destination: Nasugbu, Batangas
If you’re a fan of Rain, you may have already seen The Fugitive: Plan B, an action-romance drama that ran for 20 episodes. Early on, the first episode sends private investigator Ji-woo (Rain) on a mission to the Philippines. The allure of the towering Greek-style columns with a topless Rain running across Fortune Island is the ultimate mood setter. It just tells you—when you want to go to Greece on a budget, you can get Grecian vibes and billion-dollar beach views in Fortune Island, Nasugbu, at a minuscule fraction of the cost.
Forest (2020) | Featured Destination: Metro Manila
Forest is the latest Korean drama to have filmed scenes around Metro Manila, particularly Okada Manila, SM By the Bay Amusement Park, Manila Cathedral, and Ilustrado Restaurant in Intramuros. Starring Park Hae-jin and Jo Bo-ah, the story is about two people drawn toward a mystical forest, where circumstances lead them to live there together. The main drama setting is in the mountains of Gangwon Province, Korea.
However, respective work commitments bring the characters to the Philippines, where they encounter each other and spend romantic moments in the city. You will find these scenes in the 19th and 20th episodes of the series.
The discoveries simply never end when you’re in the Philippines. Find your next dream travel in your home country on KKday!
Words by Rei Leano