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Consuming Korean Tradition in Early and Late ModernityCommodification, Tourism, and Performance$
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Laurel Kendall

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833930

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833930.001.0001

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Crafting the Consumability of Place

Crafting the Consumability of Place

Tapsa and Paenang Yŏhaeng as Travel Goods

5 Crafting the Consumability of Place
Consuming Korean Tradition in Early and Late Modernity

Robert Oppenheim

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter considers two seemingly contradictory South Korean travel genres that gained popularity in the 1990s. The first is tapsa, or tapsa yŏhaeng—field-study travel—a sort of domestic heritage tourism that purports to “survey” or “study” historic monuments in the Korean landscape. The second is paenang yŏhaeng, which means “backpack travel” and refers mostly to backpacking abroad—the sort of self-arranged solo or small-group, often budget travel to other countries that is epitomized internationally by the Lonely Planet guidebooks. Both practices have been pursued most characteristically by members of South Korea's expanding middle class, particularly college students and educational professionals. But beyond the economic, occupational, and educational status of their participants, tapsa and paenang yŏhaeng have been “middle-class” consumption activities in a more important sense, as sites for the performance of class distinction from both the authoritarian structure of older forms of mass tourism and the perceived immoral excess of elite consumption, as well as of class and status commonality with those projectively held to be “people like us,” both inside and outside Korea.

Keywords:   travel, tourism, middle class, consumption, field-study travel, backpack travel

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