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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Mount Gariwang : an Olympic casualty Yoon, Liv Gi-He


In this dissertation, I explore the contested development of Mount Gariwang in South Korea for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic & Paralympic Games. Through three separate studies that constitute the dissertation, I examine how different groups of people – journalists, activists, and local residents near Mount Gariwang – responded to the issue. Study One is an examination of South Korean mainstream and alternative print media coverage of the controversy. The findings indicate that the controversy was variably politicized or depoliticized across outlets, with the difference being starkest between, on one side, conservative mainstream media – and on the other side, left-leaning mainstream and alternative media outlets. Study Two is an exploration of the reflections of activists after a ‘failed’ environmental social movement, with a focus on their emotions. Interviews with 14 activists revealed that they felt a mix of resignation, regret, and frustration, as well as empathy with the locals from whom they did not have much support. The complex and at times contradictory mix of emotions enable reimagining the space between ‘not success’ and ‘not failure’ as a fertile opening. Study Three is an exploration of the responses of local residents who live(d) within various proximities around Mount Gariwang to understand how Olympic-related environmental transformations and inequalities are experienced by differently situated host-city stakeholders. Interviews with 12 local residents indicate that the ‘local response’ was anything but monolithic. The different perceptions and feelings about the development were entangled with individual relationships (geographical and metaphorical) to the mountain, and their views of the state and understandings of what it means to be a ‘citizen,’ influenced by broader historical memories. Overall, this dissertation contributes to understandings of injustices and inequalities that underlie environmental controversies, and how they are manifested and perpetuated through post-political processes. By seeking various responses to, and ways to understand, this controversy rather than accepting dominant representations of the issue, this dissertation also represents a way to challenge the post-political order, and to envision alternative political, social and environmental futures. 

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