'Descendants of the Sun' set restoration faces budget roadblock

Ashley Song, May 12, 2016, 10:30 a.m.

There has been no progress on work to restore the set of “Descendants of the Sun,” due to a struggle between the Tourism Ministry and the city government over the budget, according to Yonhap News Agency on Wednesday. On March 22, mayor of Taebaek in Gangwon Province Kim Yeon-shik partnered with Jung Chang-soo, the head of the Korea Tourism Organization, to draw up plans to promote the site as a tourist attraction.

Prospects for restoration were quite positive at the time, as Korean president Park Geun-hye credited “Descendants of the Sun” for the global penetration of Korean culture in a March meeting with senior presidential secretaries.

After the announcement, the city government of Taebaek asked the Tourism Ministry to allocate some 2 billion won ($1.71 million) -- the estimated cost of restoration -- from the national budget, which was originally meant to be used to revitalize the area around the closed mine in other ways.

However, the Ministry opposed the reallocation of the budget, citing poor accessibility from the Seoul metropolitan area. It also claims that, as the popularity of the drama is not likely to last long, the profitability of the project is hard to ensure.

The set was built on a disused coal mine located in the remote Taebaek mountain range. Currently, little remains of the set, as production staff returned the site to its previous condition when they left. 

According to the Yonhap News Agency report, some 1,300 tourists visited the location during the Children‘s Day long weekend from May 5 to May 8.

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