Eco-Modernist Environmental Politics and Counter-Activism Around the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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This study examines the environmental discourses surrounding the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics in the Korean public sphere. Specifically, it compares the dominant environmental discourse of the government and Olympic organizing committee with the counter-Olympic discourse of Korean civil society. Our study indicates the state has actively mobilized ecological modernization (EM) discourses. Their three discursive conventions of EM—cultural, institutional, and technocratic—and its environmental reforms are revealed as powerful tools in the public communication. The parallel environmental discourse engaged in by Korean civic organizations is shown to be the basis for strategic political engagement in uncovering unknown and silenced knowledge. In short, the environmental reforms led by the government are seen to be illustrative of the prioritizing of economic development over environmental protection with little reflexive or rigorous application of EM principles. In contrast, the parallel discourse is seen to pose a compelling challenge to the dominant. That is, while their activism was limited to a nature-protectionist, dominated by urban elites, it still managed to oppose the top-down Olympic and make it a more democratic process.

Kyoung-yim Kim is with the Sociology Department, Boston College, Boston, MA. Heejoon Chung is with the Dong-A University, Busan, South Korea.

Address author correspondence to Kyoung-yim Kim at kyoung.kim@bc.edu.
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