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[Editorial] Future Culture Forum

Posted November. 18, 2006 04:17,   


Today in Korea, culture is a product of politics and ideology. The Roh administration even passed a cultural restructuring project early in its tenure, reminding us of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

As a result, left-prone figures prevailed in many sub-organizations under the wing of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. As they grasped power in Korea’s culture industry, government budgets were allocated disproportionately and according to ideological bias. Against this background, many artists these days reflect a particular ideology in their creative works.

Proclaiming that they are defending the pureness and diversity of culture from political influences on culture and art, the Future Culture Forum, to be launched on November 21, has come into the limelight. This civil organization, comprised of 70 artists, has disclosed an appalling reality: Bok Geo-il (writer) said, “Given that right-of-centre cultural groups lay dormant, leftist organizations focusing only on the nation or people, including the Korean People Artist Federation (KPAF) and the Association of Writers for National Literature (AWNL) are abnormally prevalent, and one may say that free democracy has vanished.”

The KPAF is a leftist organization which has rallied against the Korea-U.S. FTA and the expansion plan of the U.S. military base in Pyeongtaek. Meanwhile, the AWNL, which has been a longtime advocate for the repeal of the National Security Law, even issued a statement to rally support behind Kang Jeong-gu, the former professor at Dongguk University, whose remarks had been accused of violating the National Security Law.

The Art Council Korea (ARKO) and the Korean Film Council, affiliated organizations of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, are packed with members of the two organizations. They have stirred harsh criticism, prompting accusations that the government favored them in allocating budget money. A recent inspection of the administration affairs found that some ARKO staff members unduly distributed the subsidies to their sub-organizations or themselves.

There are fears that the art will degrade itself into an instrument which conveys a leftist ideology. For instance, anti-American sentiments reign in Korean movies, and left-wingers’ books are must-reads in many schools. The emergence of the Future Culture Forum that is proclaiming to ‘protect culture based on the liberal democracy’ may be too little, too late. Yet, as Mr. Bok said, “As we lit the candle, even amid the darkness, people will come around the light,” some artists may stand up against political provocation.