South Korea/ 2. General objectives and principles of cultural policy  

2.3 Cultural policy objectives


Emphasis on the inherent values of arts and culture

Arts and culture have significance by themselves. Artistic and cultural creations are the source of fulfillment and achievement of artist himself but also convey profound meanings and values in life to the audience. The belief that the arts and culture are not a means to an end but an object to be recognized and respected for their own values, policy priority of the government has been laid on enhancing excellence of the artistic production and high quality of cultural life that would have eventual impact to majority of public life. This reflects the notion that arts and culture are not just about the economic benefits and auxiliary values they create. In way of acknowledging this objective preset government has defined national arts institutes as the center for excellence and public access minimizing the burden of break even management. National arts institutes are asked to create works of art that could serve as a symbolic icon of the nation, make creative experiments of artistic excellence.

Resettlement of the support system

In a way of assuring fair and efficient process of support system, management of Korean Culture and Arts Promotion Fund has been amended since 2008. The former dual reviewing system involving council committee and subcommittee had been dissolved to minimize the alleged adverse effect of excessive peer review. Overall government subsidy has been restructured around the notion of quality and excellence of artistic creation to give more benefits to organizations that could demonstrate any competitive aspect of their work. Standard has been set to select recipient based on expectation of achieving the stated objective by concentrating resources to relatively selective few, which is called “the principle of choice and focus.” This shift in policy direction acts as a rationale to concentrating reasonable amount of fund to practically assist with creation instead of allocating small amounts to a multitude of organizations as in the past. Recipients were more assessed in their competitiveness edge on what they were doing and their impact towards the art world and the public.

Assuring cultural right to the socially excluded population

The focus is on making arts and culture available to everyone including the socially and economically marginalized group of population. With this goal in mind, the government devotes significant amount of general budget (mostly from the Lottery Fund) to run cultural voucher system and socio-cultural welfare programs. This has been arranged to assure both consumer sovereignty and supply side aspect of cultural market.

Institutionalizing welfare policy for artists

It has been a public commitment of the government how to stabilize the living condition and improve the work environment of the artists. One has been to strengthen the basis of work environment by providing various incubating programs such as “Creative Factory”. The most important event above all is institutionalizing artists’ welfare policy by legislation. The 「Artist’s Welfare Act」 is regarded as a fruitful consequence of lengthy endeavor to improve artists’ social welfare, which has to be supplemented with details year to come.

Introduction of environment sensitive cultural policy

Adoption of ‘low-carbon and green growth’ as a new national vision for Korea in 2008, arts and cultural sector had to become more aware of sustainability issues of within its ecology. Support has been given to artists and organization that consider environmental sensitivity as subject of their genuine work or in managerial aspect such as constructing or renovating cultural facilities.

Recognizing genuine importance of traditional culture in itself and as the origin of creative industry

The significance of cultural diversity has been viewed from two aspects. First, it will yield a culturally abundant life to the public, second it will have meaningful influence on flourishing of creative industry. Originality and tradition has been important from the historical and identity perspective of cultural policy. At the same time, concerns have been widespread that uncompromising attitude regarding traditional arts and culture will lead to perishing of it all. To cope with these concerns various types of public support has been enacted such as placing traditional arts educators at schools, global promotion in arts market (such as world music EXPOs), and subsidizing young performing groups. Government programs are aimed to modernize traditional cultural resources and utilize them in a creative way in order to promote newly discovered values of Korean tradition and spirit in a global setting.

Chapter published: 29-11-2013