Tourism gentrification in less-privileged urban neighborhoods? The case of South Korean cities

Authors: Minji Kim*, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Topics: Urban Geography, Tourism Geography, Asia
Keywords: Tourism gentrification, Gentrification, Neighborhood change, Sense of dispossession.
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Roosevelt 4.5, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Clark (2005) calls for a more inclusive definition of gentrification to be adopted that would incorporate factors associated with locally specific processes (Lees & Phillips, 2018). Under this premise, this research addresses how tourism-driven gentrification could take place differently in locations that have not been planned as tourist spaces. Ihwa Mural Village in Seoul and Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan, South Korea, are examples of such sites. These two less-privileged urban residential neighborhoods have turned into ‘tourist destinations’ after the implementation of public art projects introduced as part of culture-led urban regeneration. As a result of the art projects, the neighborhoods have experienced tourism-induced neighborhood change, such as commodification, rent rise, and negative impacts from visitors (noise, traffic congestion, and invasion of privacy). However, for the most part, tourism-driven displacement has not obviously occurred in these two neighborhoods. This is contrary to the general understanding that the growth of tourism is displacing communities (Cocola-Gant, 2018). Instead, everyday tensions have been intensified by the domination of the spaces by visitors, which generates “a sense of dispossession from the places they inhabit, or ‘loss of place’” (Davidson, 2008, p.2392). By utilizing mixed methods (interpreting interviews and analyzing housing price data), this research examines the extent to which urban tourism in neighborhoods can be understood as gentrifying process even if displacement has been limited.

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