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In Session: Desiring Jeju: Place-Making and Landscape at Korea’s Periphery
3: Diverging Perspectives in Jeju’s Villages: Millennial Migrants, Longtime Jeju Residents, and Landscape
Friday, March 26, 2021
3:00pm – 4:30pm EDT
Indiana University, United States
This presentation draws from a project about a contemporary migration of middle-class millennials from Seoul, the political, cultural and economic center of South Korea, to Jeju Island, a semi-rural farming, fishing and tourism island south of the Korean peninsula. In this presentation, I use landscape as an analytic to investigate the diverging emotional and embodied bonds that millennial migrants from Seoul and longtime Jeju villagers created with the Jeju landscape. According to my millennial interlocutors, while the Seoul cityscape was calcified, cold, and unforgiving, the Jeju landscape provided healing, comfort and instilled feelings of love. It provided a balm to the wounds of competitive Seoul life and mediated an engaged ‘exodus’ (Virno 1996) from neoliberal Seoul. However, in seeking an emotional and embodied relationship with the Jeju landscape as alternative to Seoul living, I argue that migrants in effect produced a ‘leisurescape’ (Tilley and Cameron-Daum 2017) in Jeju that they laid over the ‘taskscape’ (Ingold 1993) that had long been operative in Jeju’s rural villages. Migrants’ development of leisurescape in Jeju’s rural villages in some cases amounted to an erasure of the sociality and aims of longtime Jeju villagers, and often led to a commodification of rural village life. The diverging visions of millennial migrants and longtime Jeju villagers for the Jeju landscape calls into question the future shape of Jeju’s rural villages.