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Efforts to recover from ‘blacklist’ scandal still ongoing: culture minister

Culture Minister Hwang Hee speaks during a press conference on Thursday. (MCST)
Culture Minister Hwang Hee speaks during a press conference on Thursday. (MCST)
Five years after a blacklist of cultural figures drawn up by previous administrations was first revealed, efforts to recover from the scandal and prevent a repeat are still ongoing, the minister of culture, sports and tourism said on Thursday.

Culture Minister Hwang Hee named a legislation that guarantees status and rights of artists, which is expected to take effect in September, as the biggest accomplishment.

Out of the 85 subtasks that had been set, 62 have been completed while the rest are either in progress or under review, the minister said. Other efforts include creating a consultation channel that aims to help victims of unfair practices and sexual harassment in the culture industry, the introduction of artist employment insurance and expansion of loans for creative works and artists.

The blacklisting of nearly 10,000 figures in the culture and entertainment sectors occurred during the administrations of former presidents Park Geun-hye and Lee Myung-bak. The blacklisted figures faced unfair investigations and their applications for government subsidies and support were also denied.

After the blacklist came to light in 2016, several people involved in the scandal, including Park‘s chief of staff Kim Kim Ki-choon and Cho Yoon-sun, culture minister and presidential secretary for political affairs, were arrested and the culture ministry promised to prevent a repeat and revamp the system.

As part of the ministry’s pledges, a fact-finding committee was launched in July 2017, which introduced a series of recommendations to help set up fair cultural policies in May 2018. Subsequently, the committee rolled out a task force which was commissioned with 31 major tasks with 85 subtasks.

In December, the Constitutional Court unanimously ruled that the Park Geun-hye government‘s creation of a blacklist of artists was unconstitutional as it infringed upon freedom of expression and in January, the Seoul Central District Court ordered compensation for more than 100 artists who had filed suits.

Hwang said the ministry will continue its utmost efforts until artists in the field can feel the improvements and changes.

“Korea might be the only country that influences the world without physical power. The foundation of a cultural powerhouse, from the government’s point of view, is support but non-interference,” Hwang said, adding that Thursday’s press conference was an opportunity for the ministry to renew and reaffirm its commitment to the recovery from the blacklist scandal.

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