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Culture Ministry unveils drive for ‘productive’ leisure

The Culture Ministry will begin a nation-wide campaign to promote recreation in the second half of the year with the aim of improving citizens’ quality of life.

“Most Koreans still spend their spare time passively by watching TV and playing computer games at home. To create a productive and creative leisure culture here, the ministry will encourage people to spend more time outdoors, engage in various sports and attend cultural programs,” Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik told reporters in Seoul on Monday.

The ministry will support companies, government offices and schools to design recreational programs for their employees and students by offering incentives and arranging visits by sports stars and renowned artists.

The ministry will also encourage Koreans go on family-oriented trips on weekends. By doing so, this will also revitalize the country’s domestic tourism industry, Choe added.
Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik (left) and IBK president & CEO Cho Jun-hee pose for photo after signing an memorandum of understanding for supporting local content developers with 138 billion won worth fund at the Culture Ministry in Seoul, Monday. (Culture Ministry)
Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik (left) and IBK president & CEO Cho Jun-hee pose for photo after signing an memorandum of understanding for supporting local content developers with 138 billion won worth fund at the Culture Ministry in Seoul, Monday. (Culture Ministry)

“Major hotels are mostly in Seoul because there are not many people heading to the countryside. The ministry will help Koreans spend their leisure time by visiting rural areas and experiencing real Korean culture there,” he said.

The minister also called for an increase in the Culture Ministry’s annual budget next year.

“The country is witnessing an obvious transition from manufacturing-based to service-based industry. But financial and systematic supports are not enough to accelerate (the economic and industrial) transition,” said Choe.

Only 1.15 percent of the Korean government’s annual budget was allocated to the Culture Ministry, significantly lower than other OECD-member countries.

According to recent data, OECD-member countries allocated around 2 percent on average to their culture and tourism ministries.

To continue the popularity of the Korean Wave and overall interest in Korea culture, the ministry has set aside 500 billion won ($437 million) for 50 major hallyu-related projects next year.

Since early this year, the Culture Ministry has been pushing Korean traditional culture as the new driving force for the Korean Wave.

In January, it announced plans to further promote Korean traditional culture and also inaugurated the K-Culture Promotion Taskforce which will coordinate the implementation of the plans. It said it will spend 33.5 billion won this year toward the goal and prepare a budget of 230 billion won for 2014 and 2015 in cooperation with other governmental organizations. In April, it also announced a follow-up plan for hallyu such as building infrastructure for better content development, facilitating a support system for less popular Korean cultural genres, and promoting cultural exchanges to prevent anti-Korean sentiment.

By Cho Chung-un (christory@heraldcorp.com)
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