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Artists Protest Reduction in Music Contest Benefits

Posted February. 13, 2007 07:45,   


“Soprano Cho Su-mi won a prize at a contest held by the Music Association of Korea, and soprano Shin Young-ok built her fame after winning first prize at the Nanpa Festival in Korea. The government’s suggestion of instituting a military service reduction could be considered a humiliating example of ‘culture flunkeyism,’” said composer Lee Cheol-gu, administrative director of the Music Association of Korea.

After the announcement that service time would be reduced by a total of six months by 2014, a backlash from art and culture circles is rising because the suggestion calls for reductions in alternative military service forms based in art and sports.

The Association of Korean Classical Music, the Music Association of Korea, and the Dance Association of Korea announced that a forum against a new military exemption law for artists and a signature-seeking campaign will be opened at the Arko Art Center in Daehakno, Seoul on February 14.

The plan for military service reduction for artists promoted, called Vision 2030, is related to a revised legislative bill for the military initiated by 11 legislative representatives, including Lim Jong-in, who was an Uri Party legislator, was submitted on April 20, 2006.

Under the bill, only an individual who has won an international competition recognized by UNESCO can be granted a military service exemption; those who win prizes in national contests would not be.

Mr. Lee Cheol-gu said, “Pianists such as Kim Seon-uk, Kim Gyu-yeon, and Kim Tae-hyeong who studied in Korea won first prize at an international contest and it shows how Korean music standards have improved.” He added, “If the government grants exemptions to an international concert winners only, the national music industry would shrink and more students would leave Korea to study abroad.”

Lee Sang-kyun, former orchestra conductor of the Ansan Korean music orchestra and art director for Gamuak Korea, blasted the reduction, saying, “ The government’s exemption plan is an abuse of its rights and is impractical.”

Goh Seok-lim, publisher of Dance and People, which is a monthly publication, said, “The Seoul Dance Festival, which has a history of 28 years, has had only 11 exemptions a year, and the National Dance Festival, which has a history of 16 years, has had only 4 a year who were granted the benefit.” He added, “At this moment, the government’s plan is to kill national contests which would be a base for competitive culture contents in the 21st Century.”

Many famous dancers have participated in national contests as their first stage, such as Kim Geung-su, Moon Yeong-cheol, Lee Won-guk, Hong Seung-yeop, Choi Du-hyeok, and Kim Yeong-geol, who won first prize at the Dong-A dance concert in 1994, danced with the Korea National Ballet for a while, and then moved to France.

Among dancers who once won a prize in a national contest, 60 people worked as professors or lecturers, and 50 have played a leading role in national and public dance institutes.

Culture critic Tak Gye-seok emphasized, “A national concert tradition can be destroyed quickly, but will be hard to rebuild.”