Date of Award

December 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Ryan Holifield

Committee Members

Kristin Sziarto, Anne Bonds, Hyejin Yoon, Arijit Sen


Disadvantaged neighborhoods, New urban tourism, Place attachment, South Korea, Tourism gentrification, Urban regeneration


This dissertation research uncovers how seemingly beneficial urban projects associated with tourism reinforce inequitable urban environments and loss of place by examining different perceptions and experiences of tourism-induced neighborhood change in disadvantaged neighborhoods in South Korea. I investigate how public art projects implemented by the government to regenerate daldongnes—informal hillside settlements—have brought economic and social disruption to residents and generated a series of contest outcomes. In this research, I examine how tourists’ perceptions and representation of the neighborhood in social media contribute to the (re)construction of the neighborhood, how the growth of tourism has influenced place attachment, and how residents and small-business owners experience indirect displacement induced by tourist gentrification. I use ethnographic fieldwork and qualitative methods to explore how, by whom, and with what effects the neighborhoods are reimagined and reconstructed as contradictory sites to visit and explore. I have demonstrated in my research that the coexistence of tourism and everyday life in the space of residential neighborhoods has led us to rethink a series of controversial outcomes accompanied by the process of neighborhood transformation. This includes the full understanding of perceptions and experiences of different stakeholders, a fluid and relational understanding of place attachment in touristifying neighborhoods, and an expanded understanding of displacement that includes both direct and indirect displacement. By doing so, my research contributes to a wide range of scholarship within urban and tourism geography, critical tourism studies, and Asian studies by engaging with interdisciplinary theories and concepts. My key findings are as follows. First, I contend that so-called ‘neighborhood improvement projects’ are, in fact, micro-scale projects of entrepreneurial place-making. The reproduction of daldongnes as tourism destinations primarily serves a “nostalgic fantasy” for a romanticized, fading past for outsiders, instead of properly addressing the real needs of marginalized residents. This disparity has served as the seed of a complex neighborhood conflict. Second, I claim that a fluid and relational understanding of place attachment is critical in understanding the complexity in daldongnes changing through touristification. I claim that place still matters in being an object of strong attachment, and people continuously construct, adapt, and reshape their place attachment during the process of tourism-induced neighborhood change. Thus, I contend that urban policy must recognize these dynamics of place attachment in order to address community conflicts likely to emerge with tourism development. Place attachment could not only positively bring the community together but also rupture relationships. Finally, focusing only on numbers of displaced people by excessive rent increases in a touristified daldongne presents a partial understanding of neighborhood change. This is because people can experience displacement without actual physical displacement. Thus, it is critical to engage with indirect displacement—emotional, psychosocial, and material impacts of displacement—to understand the phenomenon in a daldongne fully. While daldongnes are essential and exciting in their own right, the study of these neighborhoods enriches several bodies of literature and areas of geographic investigation. As I have demonstrated in this research, uncovering tourism-induced neighborhood change is an essential and inherently geographic phenomenon that reflects a complex people-place relationship that calls for more geographers' engagement. A critical analysis of such a tourism phenomenon serves not only as a way to unpack the broader issue of urban inequality and marginalization but also as a way to discover what sustainable, just, and inclusive urban-dwelling means and to envision ideal neighborhood change.