Korea

Organized Panel Session

4 - Rural Dreams and Gender Norms in South Korean Travel TV Shows

Friday, March 23
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Madison B, Mezzanine Level

Since South Korea’s rapid industrialization beginning in the 1970s, an uneasy relationship has existed between the city and the country. From the 1970s into the 1990s the countryside emptied of young people, who moved to Seoul or other metropolitan areas for higher education and employment. Even in the midst of this mass exodus series such as P’aldogangsan (Scenery of Eight Provinces) highlighted local sights, culture, and delicacies of the Korean countryside. However, most TV dramas and other media products in the 1990s through 2000s heavily featured Seoul life. Recently, as the domestic tourism industry has become savvy about promoting travel, more TV programs have featured locales beyond Seoul. This paper examines the relationship between urban and rural South Korea as shown in Korean reality programs, and in particular focuses its attention on depictions of parenting, gender roles, and idealized family life outside of the city. Analyzing the reality show “Dad, Where are We Going?” (Appa, ŏdiga?), and interviewing rural transplant-hopefuls and weekend travelers, I argue that South Korean reality travel shows are mediating the gap between urban and rural through the trope of “healing together through hard work,” illustrating a clash between capitalist industrial modes and communal modes, and illuminating new directions in East Asian media studies.

Bonnie Tilland

Yonsei University, Kangwon-do, Republic of Korea

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