The primary purpose of this study is to explore the experiences of South Korean women “doing serious leisure” in what is widely known as a stigmatized activity, pole dance. It seeks to understand the experiences of South Korean women participating in pole dance and to investigate the strategies that are used to cope with the stigma that is experienced during participation. A qualitative research method was applied with an “insider” approach to collecting data. Data were collected through participation observations and in-depth interviews. The findings suggest that South Korean pole participants construct unstigmatized identities through their engagement in pole with its social stereotypes and stigma. Participants’ identities have been firmly embedded as “pole dancers”, “pole athletes”, or “polers”, which they do not feel the need to elucidate to those who are not active members. Their identities are surrounded and intertwined with their rationalized reason for participating in pole dance as serious leisure, along with their individual dedication which manifests their commitment by entering competitions and upgrading their pole skills. Participants and the pole dance community create a social atmosphere where their participation is not taken with stigma but rather with serious dedication to form their own interpretation of pole dance.
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