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(Re)defining Bohemia in Seoul, Tokyo, and Chicago

Can Tocqueville Karaoke? Global Contrasts of Citizen Participation, the Arts and Development

ISBN: 978-1-78190-736-8, eISBN: 978-1-78190-737-5

Publication date: 15 July 2014


As noted in this volume’s introduction, Bohemia is considered a core component driving innovation and urban development in the West. From Balzac through Richard Florida, Bohemians are creative. Artists are the quintessence in the sense that breaking the eggs of tradition is a prerequisite to cooking a new omelet. The core idea seems broadly accepted by many readers and commentators in the United States and Western Europe. However, many Korean intellectuals react with puzzlement when asked what or where is the local Bohemia. Many imply that there are none in most Asian countries. There is evidence for this argument. Korean university students seem to dress more elegantly than Westerners. Many female students often wear skirts or dresses and high-heeled shoes and make up to class. Regarding tolerance of homosexuals, there is a famous story about a television star who “came out” with his gay identity and was fired from his job. Dressing inelegantly and tolerating gays are two possible indicators of Bohemia that Richard Florida has stressed, but a critical point to reassess is whether the idea of Bohemia should be revised or whether a new concept should be considered as Asian variations are more specifically incorporated into international theory.

This chapter will examine whether or not Bohemia is absent using scene data. The results will also be compared with those from Chicago to lead to incorporate Asian variations more specifically.



Jang, W., Clark, T.N. and Byun, M. (2014), "(Re)defining Bohemia in Seoul, Tokyo, and Chicago", Can Tocqueville Karaoke? Global Contrasts of Citizen Participation, the Arts and Development (Research in Urban Policy, Vol. 11), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 135-147.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Seoul Development Institute. Developed from Wonho Jang, Terry Nichols Clark, Miree Byun, (2011) Scenes Dynamics in Global Cities. Seoul: Seoul Development Institute