South Korea/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate  

4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities

Resolution of imbalance in taking cultural benefit

With the widening income disparities between the rich and the poor, imbalance in cultural experience of socially and geographically marginalized people has been aggravated. In order to increase public access to cultural and sport events and to reinforce leisure and welfare programs, the government has given policy priority to the expansion of culture-travel-sport vouchers for socially disadvantaged and low income families.

Enriching cultural environment

A great emphasis is being placed on enhancing Korea’s image as a cultural powerhouse. This has taken the form of developing grand projects and institutions. Prioirity has been given to the establishment of the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History, the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul, the Hangeul Museum, and the Asian Hub City for Culture Gwangju.

Since the 1970s, countries in Europe have tried to generate revenues from tourism by rejuvenating cities and beautifying the urban environment utilizing cultural assets. Korea has also been focusing on creating cultural spaces that reflect its unique cultural characteristics to revitalize city centres. It is expected that such efforts will facilitate growth in tourism and other relevant industries. The case in point is the ongoing project to transform modern industrial heritage sites into cultural spaces.

Strengthening creativity in arts

The Korea Culture and Arts Fund moved from making one-time cash grants to providing continued and indirect funding in phases. Moreover, it has put in place a new set of operating principles such as the introduction of the chief-reviewer-in-charge position and an early and regular deliberation process. A new scheme to provide funding for multi-year basis and evaluation basis were introduced to improve the quality of creative activities.

Job creation in the arts and culture

As job creation emerged as a significant policy issue for the government as a whole, the realities of employment in the arts and culture sector also came into focus. While efforts were made to create jobs, problems in arts and culture were too complex for the adoption of the general prescription to address employment issues. Government played the intermediary role of creating jobs to enable the placement of arts educators in schools and arts institutions. It also took responsibility for promoting business startups in the arts and culture such as social enterprise in the arts.

Chapter published: 29-11-2013