Culture Minister promises film industry ‘no more blacklist’

By Yoon Min-sik
  • Published : Jun 21, 2017 - 11:28
  • Updated : Jun 21, 2017 - 11:28
Do Jong-hwan, the newly appointed minister of culture, sports and tourism, was to meet with figures from the independent and art film circles Wednesday evening to pledge more support.

The move was intended to bring some form of consolation to those ailed by the previous Park Geun-hye administration’s blacklist of cultural figures thought by the authorities to be anti-government.

“Independent and art films are the foundation of the movie industry, and carry out a very important role in people enjoying culture. ... The government will systematically expand support for a sustainable ‘ecosystem’ of independent and art films,” he said in a press release revealed before the meeting. 

Do Jong-hwan, minister of culture, sports and tourism, speaks during a meeting with the press Monday at the government complex in Sejong City. ( Yonhap)

Do added that the ministry will follow the principal of “support, but not interfere” and will revamp a project to build more theaters for independent and art movies, which was cut short during the last administration.

At the meeting, which was to be held at independent film theater Indiespace in Seoul, Do was also expected to pledge that the government would ensure a blacklist of cultural figures would never exist again.

Earlier in the year, an investigation had found that during the Park administration, the Culture Ministry had kept a list of artists who were to be excluded from receiving financial support from the government. These were individuals who were seen as against the government, or had pledged support for Park’s political rivals.

It was part of the larger Choi Soon-sil scandal in which President Park’s confidante Choi was allowed to meddle in state affairs. This included exercising influence over high-level personnel decisions in the government.

The ministry issued a public apology and rolled out plans to prevent the recurrence of such cases, following the arrest of Cho Yun-sun, who was at the helm of the ministry when the list was created.

On the coattails of his inauguration Monday, Do told reporters that he plans to launch the ministry’s own investigative committee on the blacklist scandal within this week. The committee -- consisting of 15 people -- will look into the matter for three months, but the period could be extended for another month if needed.

“Many cultural figures still feel that our past investigations into the blacklist scandal were insufficient. ... I hope that those people would be given a chance to participate, investigate and have a say in preventive measures,” he said. “The key thing is that such a thing does not happen again. ... It is only fair that those responsible for it are properly punished.”

By Yoon Min-sik