Organized Panel Session
Playing video games in kosiwŏn (temporary housing), or eating alone (honbap) watching mukbang (“eating broadcasts”) are no longer strange, liminal practices in today’s Seoul. Since 2009, economic restructuring, layoffs, and socio-economic uncertainty meant “normative” 9 to 5 employment, family meals, and home ownership became illusive dreams for many Koreans, 29.6% of whom now live in single-person households and work several part-time jobs. These urban precarities aside, Seoul is also the world’s most-wired city, with digital technology infrastructures revolutionalizing global quotidian rhythms. Koreans dominate in global eSports, net(cit)izenship, social network platforms (Vlive, DCInside, webToons), and virtual reality, inventing cybermedia practices that confound the now-old Western capitalist definitions of labor, leisure, personhood, and home. These innovations offer futurity from deep within Seoul’s compressed modern sprawls, inventing cyber-technology protocols where residents escape, inhabit, and commune non-normatively, often without stable jobs, homes, or relationships. Mo introduces yingyeo (“superfluous”) youth, who assume virtual identities while rejecting the post-industrial strictures of offline worlds. Diffrient considers media portraying human relationships with AI, against Isaac Asimov’s writings about late capitalist non-human agency, and recent government-led legal developments. Kang discusses transformations in PC-bangs (rooms), the precursors to the representative semi-private/public room culture in Seoul’s leisure industry. Choi argues that recent shifts in spatial practice from these physical rooms (-bang 房) to broadcast (-bang 放送) rooms forge an affect of virtual-togetherness, making possible a transnational engagement in a Korean cyber-nation. These cybermedia reconfigure new ways of working, living, and belonging that confound the conventional shapes and rhythms of post-industrial capitalism.