The making of sporting space: the social production and social construction of public park in seoul

Por: Han Seung Back, Joo Il Yeob e Kim Sook.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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This study presents a case study about the social production and social construction of public park as sporting space. Han Riverside Parks (currently up to 12 places) has been constructed to give the citizens a place for relief and physical activities. Since Han Riverside Parks have developed 20 years ago, broader segments of Korean society have gained access to free time. Especially over the last few years, the people participating in leisure sport activities such as inline-skating, MTB, etc increased enormously. Currently the majority of the visitors of Han Riverside Parks use the space for jogging, biking, inline-skating and other sporting activities.
Yeouido Riverside Park is the most renown of Han Riverside Parks. It surrounded by Han River, apartment complex, business building which isolate these area. Therefore, Yeouido Riverside Park has been segregated as a ’clean space’, with the majority of the visitors coming from upper-middle class, differentiating it with other public parks in Seoul where are crowded with underprivileged people such as beggars and elders. The accessibility is pointed as the main factor characterizing the feature of space. While the Yeouido Riverside Park is easily accessible using private transportations, it is difficult to visit the park using public transportation because of its extensive distance from both the bus or subway station, naturally limiting the majority of visitors to those with personal vehicles. Accessibility is an important factor by which class-based spatiality is divided.
This study, focusing on the social, geographical isolation of the park, has examined how a sporting space is built up by visitors of parks after its creation of the space. In order to verifying this concept, literature data, interview, and field note were collected. And also, we applied analytic tools used in "Spatializing Culture" - The social production and social construction of public space in Costa Rica (Low, 1999) to verify how the space is utilized differently than the initial intention by the actual visitors of the space. The social production of space includes all those factors - social, economic, ideological, and technological - whose intended goal is the physical creation of the material setting. The term social construction includes all those factors activity, exchange, conflict, and control etc. Thus, the social construction of space is the actual transformation of space.
Conclusively, Yeouido Riverside Park is constructed for a convenient access of middle class onward youth and in actuality the space is composed of this class. Also the fact that the city of Seoul is planning on a 4 year project called ’Han Riverside Parks Usage Promotion Plan’ to reorganize the park as special place for leisure sport shows how the agency of the individual actor influence the spatiality.


[1]. Low, S.(1999). Spatializing culture: The social production and social construction of public space in Costa Rica. Theorizing the City. The New Urban Anthropology Reader.






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