(Iseltwald) “I finally realized my dream! ” raves Isabel Palijon, looking at the small wooden pier, which overlooks turquoise water. The Swiss Alps in the background make the picture even more idyllic.
This pier is the main reason why the 38-year-old Filipina tourist traveled 11,000 kilometers to Iseltwald, a village of just over 400 inhabitants on the shores of Lake Brienz not far from Bern.
And she is not alone. The « fault » lies with Crash Landing on Youan extremely popular South Korean series on Netflix, and above all a romantic scene shot precisely in this place.
The series tells the improbable encounter of a South Korean billionaire heiress, who crashes in a paraglider in the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas, and comes across a handsome, chivalrous officer in the service of the North Korean totalitarian regime.
Several flashbacks take place in Switzerland, including the scene that earns Iseltwald notoriety among fans. The hero of the series plays the piano there and the melody resounds on the lake, while the heroine with whom he will later fall in love arrives by ferry from Interlaken.
« I would like someone to do this for me one day, » dreams Jiah Hni Gwee, a 35-year-old Malaysian, who casts an envious gaze on the scene.
“It would be amazing and romantic. She was among dozens of tourists who thronged the scene last week on a beautiful sunny day.
CLOY – fans refer to the series by its acronym – has become a staple in much of Asia during the long COVID-19 lockdowns.
It is, outside of South Korea, the second most popular K-drama among foreign viewers in 2021, after Squid Game.
« It’s a bit too much »
But for Iseltwald it has become a headache. « The numbers have exploded, » says Titia Weiland, head of the village’s tourist office. While it is difficult to calculate the number of fans among tourists, she estimates that « there are 1,000 visitors for every local person living here ».
She points out that « almost everyone in Iseltwald is happy to have many tourists », but admits that « it’s a bit too much ».
Last summer, up to 20 coaches started arriving every day, clogging traffic and sometimes blocking access to the village.
And locals complain that CLOY fans are content with a photo on the pier before heading off again, wreaking havoc but little money.
« When you have hundreds or thousands of people going to the pier to take a picture, and less than 10% come here to drink something, that’s a problem, » says Sonja Hornung, the manager of the Strand hotel overlooking the site. To cope, the municipality announced access restrictions last month and installed a turnstile at the pier.
To pass, you have to pay a “selfie fee” of five Swiss francs (5.16 euros).
» Heaven on earth »
For Sonja Hornung, whose restaurant offers customers a token for the turnstile, the new measures have made a difference.
« Last year was terrible. [mais] it has improved a lot,” she says.
But some tourists do not hide their surprise at the turnstile… and the price.
“Oh, five francs! exclaims Florita Lichtensteiger, a 64-year-old Filipina living in Switzerland. She reluctantly paid for her family members to pass, but refused to do the same for her.
“All my guests want to see this place,” she says, explaining that she has been there at least ten times.
Other tourists preferred to simply take a photo from the shore.
« It’s not worth it, » said Nayeon Park, a 21-year-old Korean. For Tita Weiland, there is no alternative, if only to pay for the maintenance of the pier and ensure the safety of those who walk on the frail wooden structure which before CLOY accommodated a handful of people. per day.
“A lot of people understand that something had to be done”, she judges: Iseltwald “is like paradise on Earth. We really want to try to preserve it. »