[FOUNTAIN]What is Korea’s current GNC?Even people who are accustomed to such economic terms as GNP (gross national product) or GDP (gross domestic product) would find unfamiliar the term GNC (gross national cool).
American writer Douglas McGray first used the acronym in an article in Foreign Policy magazine last year. The word “cool” here means "splendid” and “hip,” not the temperature. The closest translation of GNC would be “gross national cultural product” or “gross national cultural capability.”
While it sounds like an economic term, GNC is not intended to measure which of the Western and Eastern arts are more valuable. To McGray, GNC is a tool to understand a nation’s cultural capability and influence.
He emphasized the competitive power of Japanese culture, citing the worldwide popularity of Japanese animation, computer games and fashion. Based on its powerful GNC, the economic giant is “reinventing” itself as a cultural superpower.
GNC is indeed a novel idea, but it is hard to measure. Even McGray did not provide a numerical GNC for Japan.
But Japan’s Marubeni Research Institute came up with a formula to calculate GNC based on trade statistics, and estimated Japan’s 2002 GNC at 1.5 trillion yen ($12.5 billion). In order to compare international competitive power in cultural industries, the institute considered exports of copyrights, films and publications and income from overseas performances.
According to Marubeni’s figures, Japan’s GNC has grown threefold in a decade, from 500 billion yen in 1992. Considering the prolonged economic slump in the 1990s, this cultural growth is especially noteworthy. Japan’s GNC is almost as much as Korea’s automobile exports last year of $13.4 billion, or its computer exports, $12.9 billion.
At the opening ceremony of the Gyeongju Cultural Expo on Aug. 13, President Roh Moo-hyun pronounced that he would make Korea one of the five cultural superpowers in five years. He also mentioned that creating an “intellectually powerful country” is one of the main goals of his “participatory government.”
Yet he failed to provide data that show Korea’s cultural competitive edge. We need to know where our GNC is right now, and what we need to do to be in the top five.
by Nahm Yoon-ho
The writer is a deputy city news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.