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10.8 billion won earmarked to promote reading

The government announced on Wednesday a set of measures to boost the nation’s falling reading rate amid the growing popularity of internet games and other forms of digital entertainment.

The Culture Ministry plans to designate this year the “Year of Book Reading,” allocating 10.8 billion won ($9.6 million) to programs aimed at encouraging internet-savvy Koreans to read books.

“With the plan, the government will create an atmosphere conducive to reading and improve the nation’s competitiveness in gathering knowledge,” First Vice Culture Minister Kwak Young-jin told reporters in Seoul.

The budget will be spent on improving library services for senior citizens, the disabled and low-income families, as well as running clinics for game addicts and holding seminars and concerts to increase the public’s interest in reading.

A series of tour programs that feature seminars on the country’s history and tradition is also planned.

“We will organize one- or two-day trips to historic sites designated as world cultural heritage by UNESCO and offer on-site lectures to help people better understand our history and traditional culture,” an official said.

By Cho Chung-un (