Tourism, place and placelessness in the phenomenological experience of shopping malls in Seoul

Changsup Shim, Carla Almeida Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite the broad conceptualization of shopping malls as placeless, malls increasingly serve as popular tourist attractions and yet remain significantly under investigated in the tourism literature. With this in mind, this study investigates tourists' lived experiences and their implications for understanding contemporary manifestations of place and placelessness. It focuses specifically on shopping malls in Seoul, South Korea and adopts a phenomenological perspective to address two research questions: first, are there particular features that give rise to tourists experiencing shopping malls as placeless? And second, notwithstanding placelessness, what is the appeal of Seoul's malls to tourists? Findings propose that malls can be understood as a negotiated reality between the forces that create placelessness and those that enhance the appeal of malls. The study affirms contemporary notions of placelessness as symbiotic with experiencing place; reaffirming space as a production of human intention where social and cultural changes manifest themselves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-114
Number of pages9
JournalTourism Management
StatePublished - Dec 2014


  • Phenomenology
  • Place
  • Placelessness
  • Seoul
  • Shopping malls
  • Urban tourism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Transportation
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Strategy and Management


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