Swiss town swamped with South Korean tourists after brief appearance on hit show

Swiss town swamped with South Korean tourists after brief appearance on hit show

A small town in Canton Bern in Switzerland has been overwhelmed by a wave of South Korean tourists, after a scene in the popular K-drama Crash Landing on You was filmed there. Iseltwald, a village of 420 people in the Swiss mountains, has reported a dramatic increase in tourist numbers as a result of the hit show.

Crash Landing on You TV show sparks tourist influx in Switzerland

On a small pier in Iseltwald, 1,5 metres wide and seven metres long, hundreds of tourists queue to get a picture with the lake in the background. The tiny outcrop on Lake Brienz is now a popular place to take romantic pictures for weddings, engagements and couples trips, all because of one South Korean TV show.

Crash Landing on You, created by Studio Dragon, is a love story between a successful South Korean businesswoman (Yoon Se-ri) and an officer in the North's Korean People’s Army (Captain Ri Jeong-hyeok). After Se-ri crashes in North Korea during a freak paragliding accident, she is aided by the captain. Romance blossoms and the two eventually fall in love - despite the differences between their two countries. 

Where was Crash Landing on You filmed in Switzerland?

Alongside filming in Korea, the show also has scenes in Zurich, LucerneBern, several Swiss ski resorts and Iseltwald. It is the third highest-rated South Korean TV drama in cable television history and extremely popular in the rest of Asia.

Where was the famous piano scene in Crash Landing on You filmed?

The reason why so many tourists are flocking to Iseltwald is because of a romantic vision where Captain Ri plays the piano on the Iseltwald pier while Yoon Se-ri travels to the village by boat. The emotional and romantic power of the scene, coupled with the stunning scenery, means that many South Korean couples now travel to the village to get a picture on the pier as a romantic memento.

PostAuto, the local public transport operator, said that it was increasing the number of services to the village by four a day - a 30 percent increase on traffic levels seen before the pandemic. “We are very happy that so many people are using the service. However, since last week there has been a combination of construction work and increased traffic, which has led to more congestion on the route. This makes it a challenge for us to keep to the operating times," PostAuto’s Urs Bloch told Swissinfo.

Locals concerned about new tourist numbers

It's not just public transport services that are dealing with extra demand. At the peak of summer, 12 large tourist buses were arriving in the small town every day. Tourist authorities from areas that are also included in the show, such as the ski resorts of Kleine Scheidegg and Grindelwald, have reported that tourism numbers have also increased significantly.

However, if you are a local in a small village of 420 people, and have 12 buses packed with tourists arriving every day, it is natural to be a bit apprehensive. Speaking to Swissinfo, local shop worker Marion Krähenbühl lamented that, “Tour groups leave the village within five minutes after taking photos at the pier. Tourists who come by bus bring their own food and drink so do not eat in the restaurants… the village earns almost no extra income from these tourists. All that is left is the rubbish that has been thrown away. This is just "rubbish tourism.""

Sadly, this was confirmed to be “unfortunately true” by the Bönigen-Iseltwald Tourism Authority, who told Swissinfo that “there has been no particular increase in the village's tourism income as a result of the series. We only spent money on disposing of the waste.” They said that they are concerned about the new tourist numbers, as the area has long been known as an “oasis of tranquillity,” and “we don't want to lose our charm.” 

Crash Landing on You the first in a number of TV shows filmed in Iseltwald

However, not all the locals are concerned about the new tourists, with one local couple telling Swissinfo that they were “delighted” by the influx of tourists, noting that “as long as we don’t have to pay extra taxes, we are not particularly bothered.” 

They concluded that so long as the boom dies down eventually, they are not concerned about the new arrivals. However, if locals did want some peace and quiet, they may be waiting a while as according to the council (Gemeinde), a Thai company has just applied to film in Iseltwald.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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