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Culture minister nominee rebuffs accusations of inexperience

Park Bo-gyoon, President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s culture minister nominee, arrives at a building in Seoul on Monday to prepare for his parliamentary confirmation hearing. (Yonhap)
Park Bo-gyoon, President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s culture minister nominee, arrives at a building in Seoul on Monday to prepare for his parliamentary confirmation hearing. (Yonhap)
A longtime journalist covering politics and now a culture minister nominee in the incoming Yoon Suk-yeol administration, Park Bo-gyoon said he has ample experience and deep-seated interest in cultural matters.

“I was mainly a journalist at the political news desk, but I wrote a lot of articles about culture, art, content, history, sports and tourism. When I traveled around the world, I visited cultural and artistic sites such as museums and archives first. So this field is by no means unfamiliar,” said Park, 67, speaking with reporters Monday on his way to prepare for a parliamentary confirmation hearing.

“In addition, while reporting from many places around the world, I analyzed cultural policies of foreign countries and how they promote and differentiate culture, arts, sports and tourism policies and how they drive them,” he said, adding that he would make efforts as a culture minister based on these experiences.

Park also rebuffed criticism over his column titled “Yoon Suk-yeol’s calm and strong” in December 2020 at the time of a heated court battle between Yoon and the Moon Jae-In government. In the column, he likened Yoon, then prosecutor general, to the old man in Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.” The ruling Democratic Party of Korea criticized the column as shameless glorification of Yoon. The title was referencing a description on Yoon's Kakao profile at the time in which he wrote, "Be calm and strong."

Park defended himself by stating that “criticizing the reigning power of the regime” is the role of the media, adding that he had also criticized the Park Geun-hye government.

Park Bo-gyoon, a former journalist and vice president of the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper, was the president of the Korea News Editors’ Association in 2011. Joining the People’s Power Party in July 2021, Park was appointed a special adviser in the party’s election committee and election headquarters. In March, Park became a special adviser to Yoon. On Sunday, he was announced as the culture, sports and tourism minister nominee.

Park vowed to prevent a recurrence of a cultural blacklist. The scandal refers to the blacklisting of nearly 10,000 figures in the culture and entertainment sectors during the administrations of Park Geun-hye and Lee Myung-bak. Figures who were viewed as being critical of the government were denied government subsidies and funding.

Already concerns are rising in the culture sector about the incoming Yoon administration, which is seen as an extension of the Park and Lee administrations. In particular, a media report disclosed that a petition is circulating among former culture ministers and high-ranking ministry officials to stop the punishment of government officials involved in creating the blacklist.

When asked about the petition, Park reiterated his previous comments that “blacklists will not exist in the Yoon administration” and that, for the time being, he will see how the current minister handles the matter.

By Park Ga-young (gypark@heraldcorp.com)
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