The Korea Herald


Culture minister vows greater scrutiny over arts funding

By Park Ga-young

Published : Oct. 30, 2023 - 17:18

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Yu In-chon, the minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, speaks during a press conference held at Modu Theater in central Seoul on Monday. (MCST) Yu In-chon, the minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, speaks during a press conference held at Modu Theater in central Seoul on Monday. (MCST)

Yu In-chon, the new minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, called for a wide-ranging revamp of the ministry’s support programs for artists and the role of its affiliates.

“The environment has changed so much that you can take it to mean building the government support from scratch," Yu said on his planned changes during a press conference Monday at the Modu Art Theater in Seoul, the country’s first disability arts performance venue.

"I want the programs to be effective and see results.”

Yu is starting his second spell as culture minister. He was previously minister from February 2008 to January 2011, during the conservative Lee Myung-bak administration.

"To achieve these goals, I will eliminate redundancy in the functions of arts support organizations and groups,” Yu noted.

The roles of the central government and local governments will be distinguished in a way that the regional governments focus on support for individuals while the central government carries out project-level and post-support measures.

In addition, instead of having a pool of outside experts in the fields deciding on the recipients of government funds, Yu vowed to form groups of professionals, including staff from within the funding bodies, who will take responsibility for the selection of the recipients.

The new minister also vowed to conduct a thorough audit or review of the ministry affiliates to identify and address unnecessary or irrelevant activities.

"People immediately criticize the reduction of support, but we have a bigger concern than that," he said.

Yu said that many areas had seen no progress since his first tenure as minister.

"I wouldn't say there was a regression, but many things remain unchanged despite changes in the environment because they have been doing things the same way," he said.

Korean Cultural Centers abroad will be asked to play a more active role, while much of the overseas-related tasks will be transferred to the Korean Culture and Information Service, which oversees the network of Korean Culture Centers around the world.

Yu also emphasized the importance of balanced regional development in culture and tourism and said that the ministry plans to launch regional arts groups starting next year.

“I plan to visit as many local festivals and events as possible, if not all,” Yu said.

While Park Bo-gyoon, the previous culture minister, had made numerous pledges regarding the repurposing of Cheong Wa Dae, the former presidential complex, no such development was mentioned in Yu's plans.

Yun said that since taking office on Oct. 7, he has been meeting with industry experts to understand the situation and that specific plans and policies for each sector will be unveiled starting next month to early January next year after completing the meetings.

During his first tenure as culture minister, Yu oversaw the opening of the Seoul Branch of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and the construction of the National Museum of Korean History, as well as the restructuring of the system for supporting culture and the arts.