2.1 Main features of the current cultural policy model
Until the 1980s, Korean political system had been characterized as great presidential power, strong central government, and a relatively underdeveloped civil society. The centralized political and administrative system in Korea had conferred the ministries with overriding power. During the democratization period in the 1980s and 1990s, civil society actors were mobilized to participate actively in the political process, which is a legacy valued up to these days. Yet, today, cultural policy objectives are required to coincide with the overall policy vision, objectives, and agendas of the government of the time. Such a structured system of cultural policy affects the public and nonprofit part in terms of funding provisions. It may be ambivalent in that this kind of influence draws consorted action and partnership to produce synergy in achieving policy goals but also deters independent agenda and priorities of the third sector participants.
The year 2005 was a turning point for Korean cultural policy in that a civil commission, the Arts Council of Korea, was established. The Council was expected to convey various voices directly from the arts field. The process of setting up an independent arts council was strenuous one that had to put together stakeholders with differing interest and ideological pursuits. With the establishment of Arts Council, Korea represents peculiar system of cultural policy where a strong governmental body (the Ministry) and a nongovernmental public body (the Council) coexist in support for the arts and culture. The Arts Council, which has its origin as a appendix organization to the Ministry of Culture as its mission to manage the Arts and Culture Promotion Endowment, was expected to hold autonomy in setting up directions of how to support the arts with its independence. However, with its decrease in endowment and its overlapping policy area with the Ministry it faces difficulties in terms of identity and institutional role. The issue of division of labor and coordination between the Council and the Ministry remains somewhat unclear until present.