[Global Focus] MCST Minister Yu In-chon said, "K content is an export industry that transcends secondary batteries and home appliances."

오재경 Oh Jae-Gyung
3 Jun 2024

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▲ Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Yu In-chon said in an interview with the Global Economic Daily, "The number of Korean Wave fans has increased 24 times in 10 years. I feel a heavy responsibility in that it is time to produce results."/photo = Courtesy of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.


"We need to foster K content that goes beyond secondary batteries and home appliances as a national strategic industry."


Yu In-chon, the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, emphasizes this to people he meets these days. In other words, the number of Hallyu fans around the world has increased 24 times in 10 years to an estimated 225 million, so it should be raised as a key export industry as soon as possible. The same was true at the "2024 Korean Cultural Center and Culture Promotion Hall Meeting" in February, when the front-line officials of K-culture global promotion gathered. At a meeting with heads of 42 organizations around the world, he stressed that the Ministry of Culture and Sports is the Ministry of Culture and Industry.

The largest portion of Minister Yu's recent schedule is related to the revitalization of the cultural industry. A representative example is the presentation of the "Strategy to Promote International Cultural Policy" held at the Seoul Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Jongno-gu, Seoul on the morning of the 23rd. At the meeting, Minister Yu said, "Now that the global interest in Korean culture has increased, we will fully support the overseas spread of K-culture to promote the attractiveness of our culture to the world." The strategy, which has been prepared based on more than 70 collections of opinions by field, aims to establish an integrated promotion system for international cultural policies and strengthen support for overseas expansion of K-culture in general.

Minister Yu, who has recently been inaugurated for seven months, feels heavy burden. Until now, Yu has visited many countries to meet people in various fields such as culture, sports, tourism and contents, and listened to the voices of the people on the spot countless times. He also has a strong sense of responsibility to produce results by taking into account what he has seen, heard, and thought into policy. The Global Economic Daily had a special interview with Yu, who has been working hard for several minutes. This reporter learned aboutYu's feelings as the culture, sports and tourism policy chief for the second time following the Lee Myung Bak administration, plans to foster K-content, strategies to attract foreign tourists, and support measures for the health of the senior generation.


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▲ Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Yu In-chon attended the "World Book Day" event held on the 23rd of last month and expressed his views on promoting reading culture/photo = Courtesy of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.


▷ How does it feel to lead the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism again after 15 years since 2008 when it has been about seven months since he took office.

"As our culture has a higher status than ever, I feel a great sense of responsibility as the minister in charge. Even 15 years ago, there was a craze for Korean dramas such as 'Winter Sonata' and 'Daejanggeum' in Asia, but the global status of K-contents is overwhelming right now. Beyond dramas, K-pop, movies, webtoons, games, and Korean food are loved by people all over the world. On the other hand, the emergence of new technologies such as Generative AI and the rapid growth of global OTT is breaking down the boundaries between genres, and the world is undergoing rapid market changes, entering an era of infinite competition for contents. In line with the changes, it is time to lay the foundation for cultural policies that maximize the competitiveness of K-culture."


▷"The Ministry of Culture and Industry should become the Ministry of Culture and Industry to support global companies," you stressed, what kind of work are you going to focus on for this purpose.

"As of 2022, sales of the content industry (151.1 trillion won) and exports (13.24 billion dollars) reached all-time highs, respectively. K-content has become a new growth engine and a key export industry for the country, with exports exceeding secondary batteries (10 billion dollars) and home appliances (8.1 billion dollars). The government intends to foster the K-content industry as a national strategic industry so that it can become a leader in the fierce global market. We are planning to resolve the financial shortage through the injection of policy financing (1.74 trillion won) and increase the tax credit for all genres of content such as games, webtoons, and music by up to 30%. We will carefully examine creative ideas to lead to the production of excellent content by specializing in exports and expanding the supply of guarantees across all stages of IP (intellectual property rights)."


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▲On the 30th of last month, Minister of Culture, Sports and TourismYu In-chon (center) poses for a commemorative photo with participants at the launching ceremony of foreign Korean culture promotion activists./photo = Courtesy of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.


▷ Support for K-Content's entry into the global market will be paramount.

"The global influence of K-content is growing rapidly, with exports of consumer goods such as food and cosmetics increasing by $180 million if 100 million dollars are exported." The government is strengthening support for K-content to permeate the daily culture of people around the world by supporting content companies' overseas expansion and expanding exports of related industries such as consumer goods, food and beauty through K-content premiums.


▷ Where do you think the biggest attraction of K-culture lies.

"I think the charm of K-culture comes from the combination of universality and originality. Examples include BTS' 'IDOL', which combines traditional games and Korean traditional music in 'Squid Game.' Thanks to the popularity of K-content, 77.5 percent of foreigners positively assess Korea's national image. Among these positive evaluation factors, cultural content accounts for 34.9 percent, which is the first place. Korean culture has gained popularity not only because the universal story that people around the world can relate to, but also because it has been combined with outstanding IT technology to make high-quality content."


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▲A still cut of the K-drama 'Queen of Tears' starring Kim Soo-hyun (right) Kim Ji-won, who is enjoying great popularity abroad such as Asia, America, and Europe with the highest ratings ever on tvN/Photo = Courtesy of CJ ENM.


▷ What are some strategies to expand international cultural exchanges that have become more important in the era of the global New Cold War.

"We will actively expand cultural exchanges based on overseas cultural centers, public relations centers, and Korea centers around the world. We will continue to provide opportunities for local people to experience and experience our culture, just like the existing Korean language, Taekwondo classes, and K-pop academies." By strengthening strategic and long-term partnerships with local organizations, we plan to strengthen our support to promote Korea's high-quality and outstanding works to various parts of the world, serving as a hub for expanding exchanges with domestic artists and cultural institutions. Examples include the National Dance Company's "Mukhyang" performance in the U.S. last year, and the Korean Language Experiment Project's European tour. We will strengthen cooperation with related organizations in the region to lay the foundation for effective and systematic global cultural exchange."


▷ The importance of the fine art field, which is the root of K-culture, should not be overlooked.

"We will increase the budget for supporting fine arts for the remarkable growth of the art world. First of all, we will greatly expand our creative support. Instead of reducing the support for small 額 件, which was given out an average of 30 million won per project, we will provide an average of 100 million won for large-scale projects such as festivals. We will also expand the standard for creative unit prices of state-funded projects to 1.5 times. We will also increase job support for artists. We will greatly expand the employment support for youth artists from national art organizations and private art organizations, and we will also support local leading art organizations that are piloting 10 projects this year to become jobs for local artists."


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▲Last month, Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Yu In-chon (fifth right) visited Jeonbuk Special Self-Governing Province and held on-site meetings with local artists/photo = Courtesy of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.


▷We are also emphasizing the expansion of support for traditional culture, so do you have any specific plans.

"Traditional culture is one of the main reasons that foreigners are interested in traveling to Korea. This means that traditional culture is the core of K-culture. In order for traditional culture to continue to develop and increase its competitiveness in the global market, industrial growth must be supported above all else. In this regard, the 'Traditional Culture Industry Promotion Act' which will take effect in September is expected to be the cornerstone for systematically fostering the traditional culture industry. Based on this, we intend to promote policies to foster each field of traditional culture. We are supporting the growth of traditional culture industries as high value-added industries by expanding the construction of 3D data on traditional culture, and continuing research and development to develop materials and processes for traditional cultural products."


▷With the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, competition is intensifying to attract tourists from all over the world. What kind of efforts are you making to attract more foreign tourists.

" In order to promote "tourism that can only be experienced in Korea" to the global market, we are subdividing the region by region, age and theme, and promoting customized close marketing. In Japan, China, and China, which have the largest number of tourists as of 2023, we are marketing to special purpose travelers such as women in their 20s and 30s who have a lot of interest in the Korean Wave and experience in Korea, as well as those who have visited Korea for educational purposes, as well as sports and e-sports hobbyists. Considering the long period of stay and the nature of traveling in groups of cities in the Americas and Europe, we are planning and promoting joint tourism products with other Asian countries such as Japan, and actively introducing contents such as temple stays and hiking, and themed products tailored to specific classes such as vegetarian, vacation destination remote work, and art fairs."


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▲ Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Yu In-chon (fourth left) claps his hands toward the stage after watching the opening performance of the "2024 Paris Korea Season" at the Chatellet Theater in Paris, France on the 2nd./Photo = Courtesy of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.


▷2024 Paris Olympics and Paralympics are about two months away.

"The Olympics is a great opportunity to let people around the world know the charm of various K-culture. In particular, the Olympics, which will be held again in Paris in 100 years, are expected to attract more visitors as there are many elements that can be talked about, such as the first outdoor opening ceremony in the Seine River and an arena that utilizes cultural attractions. More than 15 large-scale events, including Korean traditional music, exhibitions, books, fashion, Hallyu (Korean Wave) exhibitions, and K-tourism road shows, will be held in Paris and other major French cities from this month to November under the name "2024 Paris Korea Season." We are also preparing an integrated promotion with domestic participating organizations and organizations so that the 'Korea Season' can attract attention."


▷There is a high interest in healthy seniors ahead of the entry into the super-aged society.

"Next year, 20.3% of the population aged 65 or older in Korea is about to enter a super-aged society. In the age of the super-aged society and the age of 100, we will expand public sports facilities available to the elderly in close proximity and continue to expand support for customized life sports programs. For example, part of the construction cost of the Senior-Friendly National Sports Center, which consists of sports facilities and health promotion functional facilities preferred by the elderly, is supported by state funds (3 billion won per facility). 74 physical fitness certification centers across the country measure the physical strength of the elderly and prescribe customized exercise, and a system is also in place to provide incentives (sports gift certificates within 50,000 won) according to their participation in sports."


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▲ Senior participants pose for a commemorative photo with Jang Mi-ran, the second vice minister of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, at the first National Park Golf Tournament held in October last year./photo = Courtesy of the Korea Sports Council.


▷ International exchanges of middle-aged seniors, such as sports experiences, are active, and the plan is.

"Promoting sports activities for the elderly and supporting their health are also expected to greatly contribute to the reduction of medical and social overhead costs. Therefore, we will also make efforts to promote international exchanges of sports for the elderly in order to spread their living culture. The government is sharing the latest sports programs for the elderly and best practices through sports exchanges with many countries around the world.


◇ Minister Yu In-chon He graduated from Hansung High School and Chung-Ang University (theater and film major) and made his debut in MBC's open recruitment talent show in 1974. After being recognized for his special talent in acting, he also worked as a theater director and producer, including winning the Rookie of the Year award in the same year. After serving as a professor at Chung-Ang University and CEO of the Seoul Foundation for the Arts, he served as the 44th minister of culture, sports and tourism from 2008 to 2011. Afterwards, he served as the president's special adviser for culture, chairman of the Seoul Arts Center, and special advisor for culture and sports, and was appointed as the second minister of culture, sports and tourism on Oct. 7 last year.


/Global Economic Newspaper


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