'Alchemy of Souls' star Lee Jae-wook shares the must-visit locations and the best places to go to according to your travel style
Netflix's fantasy period romance K-drama Alchemy of Souls: Part 1 took the world by storm between June and August 2022. Known for its fast-paced plot, stunning cinematography, engaging characters, comedic timing, and resplendent wardrobe, the series follows the love and growth of young mages as they overcome their twisted fates due to a forbidden magic spell known as the "alchemy of souls", which allows souls to switch bodies.
Starring as the trouble-making, stubborn but incredibly powerful mage Jang Uk is Lee Jae-wook, whose acting career skyrocketed to the top as he captivated fans with his charms and acting chops in the K-drama. In fact, his performance earned him the Asia Special Award at the 2022 Asia Model Awards and he was also honoured with the Global Excellence Award at the 2022 Korea Drama Awards for his contribution to the hallyu.
Lee has also been made the honourary ambassador of the Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO). Together with Lee, KTO hopes to further elevate South Korea as the top travel destination for Malaysians. To kick off his appointment, the actor made the trek to Malaysia for 'Annyeong Kawan with Lee Jae-wook', an exclusive in-person meet-and-greet session. Ahead of the event, Tatler sat down with Lee for an exclusive one-on-one chat.
Describe what it was like working on Alchemy of Souls, your first sageuk (historical) drama.
The prep for Alchemy of Souls was very tedious but I was surprised that through all the hard work, a lot of Asian fans paid attention to the K-drama. It’d be a lie to say that it wasn’t challenging but I enjoyed spending time with the staff and the whole process of filming the series.
How do you feel about the world opening up again for travel after such a difficult two years of the pandemic?
I’m very happy to be able to greet my fans finally and I’m in the midst of preparing for my Asian fan meeting tour as well so hopefully, through that, I’ll get to meet more fans. And of course, as the honourary ambassador of KTO, I hope to be able to reach out to more people about South Korea.
Where would you say are some must-visit locations in South Korea?
I would suggest the Han river. It’s a very nice wide, open space. It also has small stalls that sell different kinds of food. The daytime and nighttime scenes at Han river are very different so I would definitely recommend it.
In this order, where are the best places to visit in South Korea if you’re a:
Foodie: Myeongdong because there are a lot of street food stalls and so many types of things to see.
Shopaholic/fashionista: Apgu-jeong, Gangnam, and Sinsa-dong. There are a lot of boutique stores there. If you like fashion, these are definitely the places to go.
Nature lover: Two places: Danyang (139km from Seoul) and Mungyeong (153km from Seoul). Mungyeong is a place that has a lot of nature attractions and beautiful landscapes and it's also where Alchemy of Souls is being filmed.
K-drama fan: Yongin Daejanggeum Park. It's the filming location for some of the popular K-dramas (Moon Embracing the Sun, Dong Yi, Queen Seondeok, etc.) and the complex features permanent sets from the shows. So, if you can find your way there, it’ll be very nice!
History buff: Gyeongju (276km from Seoul) and Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon (34km from Seoul).
What are some 'must learn' words or phrases for people visiting South Korea for the first time?
The basics that you‘d definitely need to know are "Annyeonghaseyo" which means "Hello", "Kamsahamnida" which means "Thank you", and "Saranghamnida" which means "I love you"–but I think most people already know that.
What did you look forward to most coming to Malaysia and what have you loved so far about Malaysia?
I’ve always had the impression that Malaysia is a safe country so I’ve always wanted to visit. This time, through this honourary ambassador appointment, I’m finally able to come to Malaysia. When I arrived at the airport, the welcome was so unexpectedly tremendous and I’m so grateful for that.