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Minister Choung vows to revive cultural power for social integration

The power of culture and the arts will be enlisted to help integrate divided Korean society, said Choung Byoung-gug, who took office as the new culture minister Thursday.

“During the past 10 years working in the cultural sector, I have realized how powerful culture and arts are in narrowing differences of language, religion and nationality,” Choung said at a press conference at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, after being officially appointed culture minister by President Lee Myung-bak in Cheong Wa Dae.

“But recently, culture and arts in Korea have not been able to play such role and have even deepened social division. As culture minister, I will restore the original power of culture and arts.”

Choung served as the chair of the National Assembly committee of culture, sports, tourism, broadcasting and communications. The three-term Grand National Party lawmaker has been deeply involved in shaping the Lee Myung-bak administration’s media policy.
Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Choung Byoung-gug speaks during a press conference at the culture ministry in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap News)
Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Choung Byoung-gug speaks during a press conference at the culture ministry in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap News)

Choung added that he will help artists focus on their creative works and let consumers evaluate their works, in order to promote pure arts industries.

“I’ve always believed that the answer is in the field (not in the office.) So I will start receiving first content policy briefings from meeting industry experts, in person, from Feb. 10,” Choung said.

He also commented on former heads of state-run agencies, affiliated with the culture ministry, who were sacked under former Culture Minister Yu In-chon. They include former chairman of the Korean Film Council Cho Hee-moon, former Arts Council Korea chairman Kim Jeong-heon, former National Museum of Contemporary Art director Kim Yoon-soo and former National Gugak Center director general Kim Cheol-ho.

“I will try to have ‘full dialogues’ with them. I don’t know if I have to apologize to them, but I could consider apologies too, if necessary,” Choung said.

Regarding cultural industries, Choung said he will ease regulations to help develop globally competitive content.

For the tourism sector, the culture ministry will focus on improving quality, not quantity, during his term, Choung said.

“Although we are near reaching the 10 million-mark in terms of the number of foreign visitors in Korea, such quantity expansion may hurt Korea’s brand image,” he said.

For the sports sector, he will focus on policies to encourage the general public to exercise more.

On Friday, Choung is scheduled to fly to Kazakhstan, host of the 2011 Asian Winter Games which kicks off Jan. 30, to meet members of International Olympic Committee to help PyeongChang’s bid for 2018 Winter Olympics.

By Kim Yoon-mi (yoonmi@heraldcorp.com)
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