Fan pilgrimage is what you call when you visit places significant to a show or celebrity. I did one last month when I looked for the filming locations of the Netflix Original series “My First First Love.”
The more locations I found, the more I appreciated the thought they put into it. Director Oh Jin-seok said during the show’s press conference that they mostly stayed in areas that are both hotspots for college students. This is why they stayed in Hongdae and Itaewon
All the locations are Insta-ready. These are places that want to be seen. They were easy to find.
There are exemptions, though. For example, I spent two hours walking in the Hanok Village in search of the #12 house. I never found it.
Tae-oh (Jisoong) is at the center of “My First First Love.” His house is the reason why all the characters get together. Song-i (Chaeyeon), Ga-rin (Choi Ri), Hun (Kang Tae-oh) and Do-hyeon meet each other for the first time outside his gate.
The first clue at finding the place came in at 23:38 mark of Episode 6. The frame showed a sign at the side of the house that said “Tabiya Guesthouse.” A quick search in Google revealed their Booking.com listing with an address.
Tabiya turned out to be its neighbor. The actual house is a private property on a quiet, charming street. The gate still looks exactly like in the drama with all its artificial flowers blooming brightly. From the street, you could also see the green stairs to the rooftop.
I took a quick picture at the gate and thought that was that. I only checked out Tabiya’s cafe because I wanted to rest my feet. This was how I met its owners Heo Jeong-hyun and Miyuki Tanaka.
Our conversation revealed that Tabiya cafe was used as Jinyoung’s dressing room. Their common room was where he changed his clothes. One of the tables was the makeshift makeup desk. His and Kang Tae-oh’s autograph and pictures now hang proudly in the cafe.
Jeong-hyun introduced me to the real owner of Tae-oh’s house. He said that the neighborhood has grown close because of the show. They helped each other out, like lending some glasses to the filming crew for the rooftop scene. The owner invited me inside the gate where I saw that Song-i’s tent was no longer there, as expected. But Tae-oh’s turquoise window and onggi or jars in the garden were still there. I was also invited inside. I discovered that the interior of the house was not the one used in the show.
Party at the rooftop
The gang celebrated at the rooftop. They ate barbecue and got drunk. They were shooting this scene up to the wee hours of the morning and the cast’s laughter was heard up to the next-door guesthouse. The shelter pays homage to the original version of the drama starring SHINee’s Choi Min-ho. In the original version, Tae-oh lived on his own at the rooftop of his family’s building.
You can stay in Tabiya Guesthouse to see the rooftop shelter in person. You can literally touch the wall of the structure from Tabiya. The structure of the shelter still stands, but the colorful tire seats, benches and decor are no longer there.
“I wish they were our real neighbors. They were so much fun,” said Miyuki.
Song-i gets caught in the rain without an umbrella on her way home. She seeks shelter from rows of shops with colorful exteriors. These shops are really en route to the house.
The exteriors make a good Instagram backdrop. One of the shops is Tingklu where you can make your own bracelet.
Tarts for Se-hyun
Do-hyeon looked at Tae-oh with disbelief when he bought six kinds of tarts from Tarr Tarr Bakery in Hongdae for Se-hyun. Tae-oh got the mixed fruit, green grape, yogurt, grapefruit, orange and citron tarts. We understood Do-hyeon’s expression after a visit. Each tart costs 6,900 won (P350). It is a bit pricey for a student who does odd jobs to make ends meet. But the bakery boasts of organic ingredients and goods freshly baked every day. Thus, Tae-oh only got the best for his crush.
SHINee’s “Ring Ding Dong” and the display shelf with colorful tarts welcomed me when I entered the store. I went for the Mixed Fruit Tart. It was the same tart that Tae-oh handed to Se-hyun from the box. It had light cream and a crumbly crust. The fresh fruits gave the tart its sweetness. It makes a perfect date snack because it is the kind of food that leaves a little something on the corner of your mouth for your date to wipe off.
For travelers, the place is a good stop while killing time before your flight home.
No jumping, please
What’s a K-drama without featuring Han River? Song-i is making a phone call along Mapo Bridge when she was “rescued” by the police. The Mapo Bridge is walking distance from the Yeouido Hangang Park. The park is famous for its cherry blossoms during spring. It is a good place to people-watch because young people spend time here. You can rent a bike to explore the area.
Fine dine at Torre N
In the drama, Tae-oh observes Song-i unseen while she works as a waitress for the restaurant Torre N. The place has an unobstructed view of the Namsan Tower.
It is a fine dining place that serves steak and pasta. They make wonderful bread and serve their meals on the same plates used in the drama. I ordered scallop pesto pasta and they made it fresh from the kitchen. The meal amounted to 28,000 won or almost P1,500. If you want to save but still get in, you can just have pastry and coffee.
Date with Tae-oh
Tae-oh shows his neighborhood to Se-hyun. The area is actually the Ihwa Mural Village. The spot where Se-hyun takes photos and stops to chat with Tae-oh is at the Ehwaseong Jeom. It is a shop where you can find postcards of the artworks found in the village. You can use their ink and tables to write your messages. However, you can also mail it from there.
In another episode, the two went on a date. It is still in the same area. They had their coffee in a bingsu place where you get to have a good view of the city. This is a residential area and visitors need to be quiet at all times. Note that this place has a lot of stairs to climb. They offer school uniforms for rent.