Selling Global Seoul: Competitive Urban Policy and Symbolic Reconstruction of Cities

The paper focuses on a process of symbolic reconstruction of cities, where existing image or meaning of places is purposely changed with an aim to attract new investments, events or tourists to a particular city. We try to situate the process within the context of growing competition of cities. Symbolic reconstruction also affects tourism development in cities as it provides an easily marketed and consumable image and meaning of places. The case of Cheonggyecheon restoration in Seoul helps us to study how symbolic reconstruction of cities is related to and affected by competitive urban policy of cities, urban renewal and city marketing. Observing local consequences we conclude that while the Cheonggyecheon restoration and resulting symbolic reconstruction helped Cheonggyecheon to become the major tourist attraction and icon of global Seoul, it also results in decline of local places and cultures, contradicting in this way its initial goals.

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