Cultural Leadership of Local Surfers in South Korea: Sustainability for Business or Community?

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Sun-Yong KWON, Department of Physical Education, Republic of Korea
Surfing has witnessed remarkable growth during the recent two decades in South Korea. This paper explores the South Korea’s recent surfing boom to analyze ways in which the Western countercultural leisure pursuit has been actively embraced and localized in one of the country’s three major surfing scenes – YangYang County, Gangwon Province. First, the process and features of the regional surfing community development are investigated. Second, particular focus is given to the process of cultural leadership formation and relevant controversies, associated with the localized surfing development in the region. An ethnographic field work has been conducted for data collection. It is noted that the regional surfing community has been organized around South Korea’s unique domestic surfing tourism for non-local recreational and novice surfers who tend to maintain their surf club membership identity. Established local surfers are predominantly local surf shop owners – also surf club managers who have successfully mobilized hegemonic cultural leadership for the regional surfing community development. There have been increasing tensions and conflicts between the established local surfers and those newcomers seeking for surfing business opportunities. The primary concern of the local surfers is the sustainability of the regional surfing community where they have maintained community leadership for establishing ‘desirable’ local surfing culture. It appears that local surfers’ cultural leadership is justified by the formation of a particular version of localism and the establishment of community network. The localized development processes of localism and community network will be further analyzed and discussed.