The power of slowness: Governmentalities of Olle walking in South Korea

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The idea and related practices of slowness have received global attention, as these have been viewed as reactions to and critiques of this “go-faster” world. Celebration of slowness has been especially prominent in South Korea, which experienced an accelerated transition to a post-industrial society. In line with recent power-sensitive studies of slowness, this paper develops a governmentality approach that examines how slowness shapes particular bodily behaviours. Drawing on recent work on rhythmanalysis and governmentalities, this study examines how slowness is enrolled and enacts the rhythmic governing of “Olle” walking – the South Korean countryside walking experience. It specifically relates the analysis to the site-specific experience of accelerated modernisation, where the legacy of state-led industrial development persists in the prevailing neoliberal capitalism. First, it examines the ways in which slow rhythm is involved in walking practice, deploying and reproducing a specific rhythm, body, and the mode of biopower. It then looks at several ways through which the emerging slow rhythm of Olle walking and the fast rhythm of everyday life are negotiated. This paper argues that slow walking can serve as an affirmative mode of rhythmic governing that fosters care of the self and the environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)562-576
Number of pages15
JournalTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jun

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Many thanks to Jamie Lorimer, Loretta Lou, and Rory Hill for their comments on an earlier draft. I would also like to thank three anonymous reviewers for their constructive criticisms and suggestions. The writing process of this paper was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea grants funded by the Korea Government (NRF‐2018R1A5A7025409 and NRF‐2019H1D3A1A01070116).

Publisher Copyright:
The information, practices and views in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). © 2021 Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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