This is the first article in a yearlong series about 'K-Culture.’ Next articles will include “Attaching Wings to the World’s Tourists,” “Creative Content for Global Leadership,” as well as many others....
"It is not through unilateral dissemination of Korean culture but through bilateral exchanges that the ministry will see its best efforts for Korea to develop into a cultural powerhouse, curbing the 'anti-hallyu or anti-Korean wave' movements in some countries," he said.
Noting that Hallyu started in Asia thanks to the high popularity of K-pop and Korean TV dramas and spread to Europe and beyond to the rest of the world , he said, "Now foreign interest is focusing on Korean culture across-the-board. Accordingly, the present task is to seek ways to keep their interest in Korea.
"Related to this, systematic and scientific research and study on the background of their steady love for Hallyu are necessary. As foreign interest in Korean culture is different according to region, we also need to carry out fact-finding surveys on this matter.
"However, the government should be cautious in propelling concrete policies on Hallyu as the term Hallyu itself may cause the misunderstanding that a culture of a strong country is infiltrating into a weak country. As a result, the ministry prefers the expression of cultural exchange or bilateral exchange to Hallyu."
With this in mind, Vice Minister Cho stressed, "The government's policy lies in creating a free environment where cultural artists can engage in creative activities by displaying their originality without restrictions on subject matter, rather than extending systematic support for exports of Korean culture."
Background of the plan to promote the contents industry
When asked about the background of the ministry's plan, Cho said, "The ministry has decided to foster the contents industry with imagination and creativity forming the basis for the core power to realize the job-centered creative economy.”
Commenting that the business on the digital contents field was transferred from MCST to the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (MSIP) in March 2013 under the government's organizational reform, he said, "For smooth business propulsion, the necessity of close cooperation between MCST and MSIP has been emphasized."
Recognizing that the two government agencies should minimize inefficiency and strengthen actual business cooperation, MCST has been put in charge of projects directly related to the genre of cultural content and MSIP will takes responsibility for promoting digital content, including holograms necessary for creating the basis of ICT growth as well as apps and content solutions, he explained.
"Major projects are increasing in scale with the contents fund moving upwards from 920 billion won in 2012 to 1.82 trillion won in 2017, the establishment of 23 contents Korea labs, the activation of start-ups, fostering of creative talents, fostering of the next-generation strategic contents, including movies, games, music, smart contents and e-publication, as well as creation of a healthy contents ecosystem to promote fairness in contents manufacturing and distribution," he noted.
Contents Korea Lab
As a means of actively fostering the contents industry with high growth and high value added, the ministry has been propelling the "Contents Korea Lab," which extends systematic supports to help imagination lead to creation and to further help business start-ups.
"The lab will consist of a content idea fusion space, a platform which enables joint creation and networking based on a fusion between the contents genre; the business start-up power plant, which offers office space, networking and investment chances to start-up businesses and develop creation routes specialized for the contents industry through contents experts' mentoring service; and the imagination creative asset yard, which enables openness, making public and sharing of contents," he said.
"By 2017, the ministry plans to inject a total of 82 billion won for the setup of eight Contents Korea Labs," said Vice Minister Cho.
Asked about the ways to expand on the nation's exports in the game industry, he said, "Exports of the game industry has been steadily rising centering on large game makers with the export volume rising from $2.3 billion in 2011 to $2.7 billion in 2012.”
"To expand the game exports, which is one of the nation's top five killer contents to be fostered, the ministry has been operating on a variety of overseas service systems by platform and export promotion projects for small and medium-sized game makers that have insufficient experience in overseas advancement.
"For instance, the ministry plans to spend 3.6 billion won in 2013 for the operation of an online global service platform, which helps smaller game makers advance into overseas markets directly through assistance in infrastructure, marketing, and billing systems."
Along with this, the ministry is moving to spend 3 billion won this year for a mobile game global publishing project, which seeks out promising smaller mobile game developers and helps with their planning and marketing activities for advancement into overseas markets, he said.
"Besides, we are consistently offering smaller domestic game makers chances to engage in overseas export consultations through the operation of the Korea Joint Hall or hosting of the G Star at major domestic and foreign game exhibitions, including Chinajoy held in China," he noted.
Through the operation of the Korea Joint Hall at the 2012 Chinajoy, 22 domestic game makers engaged in 393 cases of export negotiations and succeeded in sealing $18.89 million worth of export contracts.
Meanwhile, 290,000 persons visited the 2012 G Star and participating game makers engaged in 6,238 cases of export negotiations worth $1.6 billion.
MCST and MSIP are also propelling the Korea-China Pengyou Project to initiate content exchanges between the two countries through close cooperation.
Under the project, MCST will carry out an exchange cooperation project between government, academic, and business circles within the two countries, whereas MSIP will take charge of the joint manufacturing of digital contents and the advancement into local computer graphics markets.
"Our ministry will hold the Korea-China Cultural Industry Forum once a year regularly and take concrete steps to push for joint manufacture in the movie, TV program, game, and musical industries.
"The project will also make efforts to strengthen bilateral cooperative relations to promote marketing and distribution activities related to the various cultural products of the two countries and hold the Korea-China copyright conference between the two governments," he commented.
In addition, the ministry plans to hold the fourth Game Industry Joint Committee Meeting in Beijing in October 2013 to discuss the game degree classification system and the activation of personal exchanges between the two countries.
The ministry is also actively fostering ‘five killer contents.’ This contents include the game, music, animation, movie, and musical industries, Vice Minister Cho said.
"We are pushing ahead with policies to find new growth engines for sustainable growth of the game industry and to improve game culture. This includes the fostering of functional games such as those used in healing and education, expanding the role of the e-sports, the development of next-generation arcade games, and an increase in the number of mobile game centers to five in 2017," he said.
To expand on the base of K-pop, the ministry plans to build a music creation place in Seoul to help independent musicians in the Hongik University region compose experimental music in a variety of genre, hold the Seoul International Music Fair (MU:CON 2013) in Seoul on Oct. 10~12, and construct the tentatively named K-pop Arena, a performance center specialized for popular music by the end of 2016.
"For development in the animation industry, we are building the infrastructure to create local animation products as well as support distribution & PR activities and overseas market exploration projects," said Cho.
"For sustainable growth of the movie industry, which attracted 98.5 million tickets sold in the first half of 2013, following 190 million in 2012, the ministry is placing its policy focus on building a virtuous cycle ecosystem," he explained.
Noting that the musical industry is a promising art industry, he said, "The volume of the nation's musical market has grown by some 20 percent annually to reach 250 billion won in 2012, emerging as the next-generation Hallyu content.
"However, the domestic musical market is lopsided on large-scale licensed musicals. Accordingly, the ministry is extending various support to ease the license musical-oriented market imbalance and let original creative musicals develop into a new growth engine equipped with competitive and autogenic powers," he added.