Rail-Ro, An Emerging Rail Travel Phenomenon: A Study of Domestic Tourism, Railroad, and Culture among Youth in Korea

Open Access
Bae, So Young
Graduate Program:
Recreation, Park and Tourism Management
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
October 01, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Garry Chick, Committee Chair
  • Deborah Lee Kerstetter, Committee Member
  • Alan R Graefe, Committee Member
  • Robert William Schrauf, Committee Member
  • Rail-Ro(Railo)
  • Travel Culture
  • Domestic Tourism
  • Youth Tourism
  • Rail Travel
  • Korea
Rail-Ro (Railo) is the name of a rail pass in Korea that allows passengers of 25 or under to enjoy an unlimited amount of travel for 7 consecutive days. While the original intention of Railo was to increase train use, it has become a popular travel culture phenomenon among youth since its inception in 2007. Passengers traveling with a Railo pass call themselves Rail-ers (Railers) and identify themselves as a cultural group. It has not only increased the number of rail users, but also strongly influenced domestic tourism by adding an inflow of young travelers into local areas and changing their perception of domestic tourism. It is remarkable that a distinct youth culture has been created through Railo, considering the lack of healthy leisure opportunities for youth in Korea. Although Railo has influenced various aspects of travel and culture, few researchers have given this phenomenon a closer look. The purpose of this dissertation is to provide insight to the Railo experience and Railers’ travel behaviors in order to understand this emerging cultural phenomenon and its influences. In more detail, this study (a) provides a rich and in-depth description of the Railo culture, (b) demonstrates a coherent profile of the Railo culture and documents the degree to which Railers agree on it, and (c) examines the relationships between Railers’ motivation, satisfaction, loyalty, and attachment to the country. This dissertation is composed of five chapters including an introductory chapter (Chapter 1), the three interrelated studies on Railo (Chapters 2-4), and a final, concluding chapter (Chapter 5). I collected the data during two phases, phase I (June-August 2012; Railo summer 2012) and phase II (December 2012-March 2013; Railo winter 2013) using multiple data collection methods: ethnographic tools (e.g., interviews, observations, free listing surveys) and questionnaires (e.g., cultural consensus survey, structural equation modeling survey). The population for the first data collection was Railers who were traveling during the summer of 2012 or who had experienced Railo since its introduction in 2007. The population for the second phase of data collection was limited to Railers who made Railo trips between December 2012 and March 2013. This study provides various insights into Railo and its influences on the domestic travel behavior of Korean youths. It also presents implications for Korail (Korean Railroad Corporation), local governments, and tourism organizations who are responsible for creating sustainable strategies for operating Railo and encouraging domestic tourism. Avenues for future research also were discussed in an effort to expand knowledge about travel, transportation, and culture.