Hopes for the New Culture and Tourism Minister to Do Better

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Hopes for the New Culture and Tourism Minister to Do Better

The issue Charles de Gaulle was most preoccupied with after becoming the first president of the 5th French Republic was coming up with ways to enhance the status of France in the post-war international order under the dominion of the United States and the Soviet Union. After much agonizing, de Gaulle found the answer in culture--as the means of achieving "the glory of France" by promoting its national prestige in the world and achieving social integration. He created the position of minister of culture, and appointed Andre Malraux, his right-hand man, to the position. Malraux served as the culture minister for 11 years, until 1969 when de Gaulle stepped down as president. During his tenure, Malraux laid a firm foundation for France's cultural policy. All the key policies, from the protection of cultural assets, procuring cultural budgets, and supporting creative activities, to revitalizing regional cultures, were devised during his term in office. Malraux's overriding principle in cultural administration was: "Assist, but do not interfere."
Malraux cannot be categorized simply as a novelist, but he is often remembered mainly as the author of "Man's Fate." Kim Han-gil, who was inaugurated as the Culture and Tourism Minister the day before yesterday, is also better-known as the author of a best-seller, "A Woman's Man."
He was appointed to take the helm of the nation's cultural administration, replacing Park Jie-won, who resigned after being implicated in a loan scandal. On the day of Minister Kim's appointment, Lee Un- young, a former branch manager of the Korea Credit Guarantee Fund who has been on the wanted list for over a year, turned himself in to the prosecution. Former Minister Park was suspected of having exerted pressure on Lee to give a loan guarantee, which he refused to do. We do not know what kind of ideas the novelist- turned-minister might have for administering cultural policies, but he kept repeating the "Malraux principle" in his inauguration speech. He also stated, "President Kim Dae-jung has a deep interest in and understanding of culture. He could have become a cultural president if there had not been economic difficulties." In some ways, the statement can be interpreted to mean that the president is not investing an interest in culture, simply because he cannot afford to do so at the moment.
At one time, Minister Kim's "taxi driver theory" was a hot topic of discussion among presidential aides. Last July, when he was the chief presidential policy and planning secretary, he said, "A competent taxi driver does not ask the customer for directions." He went onto to say, "We have to assist the president much in the same way a competent taxi driver serves his customers. A capable cab driver diligently studies the map to familiarize himself with the roads in advance." We are placing our hopes on the new minister to become a competent aide to the president, who is currently deeply occupied with inter-Korean issues.

by Bae Myong-bok

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