South Korea/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.4 Direct professional co-operation

In the field of culture, there are three major exchange programs at the central governmental level. The Ministry of Culture has funded the Cultural Partnership Initiatives program from 2005 which started with promoting exchanges of cultural administrators. The participating organizations should be national, public, or non-profit cultural organizations that wish to invite administrative or managerial personnel in the arts and culture field. The program runs for six months, 70 to 80 participants are selected yearly, and priority is given to candidates from developing countries.

A public organization specializing in providing assistance in arts management he Korea Arts Management Service (KAMS) also runs exchange program. While this program is still at a development stage, it supports mid-career arts managers, including producers and programmers of arts companies and arts theaters. The scheme is somewhat unique: KAMS forms partnerships with corresponding organizations independently and facilitates selected artists to gain knowledge about their counterparts in other countries and eventually to come up with co-production ideas and results in their field of work. Until now UK-Korea Connection, Finland-Korea Connection and US-Korea Connection have been developed. KAMS hosts the Performing Arts Market of Seoul to foster communication in the performing arts. It is not a ‘market’ per se but functions as an exhibition and a means of displaying the trends and interests in the current performing arts scene.

The Arts Council Korea plays mediating role, placing outbound and inbound artists in residency programs. It also funds an arts organization to tour abroad but the scale is relatively small. Several international art events of significance such as the Venice Biennale receive support from the Arts Council on a regular basis.

At the regional level it is difficult to grasp the whole range of activities. Many regional and local governments have introduced residency programs of their own. The Metropolitan City of Seoul has delegated its arts administrative function to the Seoul Arts Foundation and it has turned specific districts into art studios. Some of the studios are open to foreign artists for residency thereby promoting artistic stimuli and exchange. International festivals are one of the main modalities for promoting international exchange at the regional level. The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) has evolved into one of the premier film festivals in the Asian region. In addition, there are numerous international festivals representing specific arts genres such as the Gwangju Biennale, Icheon Ceramic Biennale, and Seoul International Dance Festival, to name a few.

The private sector also contributes to the cultural exchange scene, especially in the fine arts field by providing for residencies within their facilities or annexes. Several nonprofit art museums such as Ssamji Art Space and Young-Eun Art Museum are examples.

Some exchange activities are difficult to classify as being entirely reciprocal and commensurate in nature. The Cultural Heritage Administration has sponsored the co-operative project between Vietnam and Korea Advanced Institute of Technology to work on restoring digital images of the ancient cultural sites close to its original image. The Korea International Cooperation Agency dispatches arts education personnel to developing countries on a regular basis.

Chapter published: 29-11-2013