Imagining Culture in Seoul via Airbnb Tourism

Authors: Hanee Choi*,
Topics: Cultural Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: tourism, mobility, inequality, cultural, youth, South Korea, Seoul
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 4:30 PM / 6:10 PM
Room: Jefferson, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper discusses an emerging form of lifestyle tourism in South Korea that has developed over the past decade (now there are 18,000 places on the Airbnb website in South Korea, 10 times as much as 2014), in which rural Koreans visit Seoul in order to access the cultural capital that the capital city represents and offers. In particular, the Airbnb website has been a central means by which rural Koreans find lodging in Seoul neighborhoods. Background of why they are going to Seoul for tourism.

This paper analyzes reviews of Airbnb hosts and guests in eleven neighborhoods from a cultural geography perspective. This paper argues, first, that hosts who own and rent out property in Seoul have higher cultural capital(Pierre Bourdieu, 1977) and status based on their geographical location and its largest metropolitan region. Second, according to their reviews, guests select their lodging based on specific purposes that are also related to achieving cultural capital, whether it’s passing an exam in a neighborhood known for its number of elites academies, or it’s visiting a landmark building or national museum. Third, this cultural status has been constructed by post-colonial heritages since Korean culture was affected by western culture.

Through this study of an emerging form of tourism in South Korea, this paper shows how cultural status and cultural capital are intertwined with geographical location. Specifically, Koreans from marginalized rural parts of the country imagine, dream of, and try to achieve cultural status and capital through visiting particular Seoul neighborhoods.

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