[EDITORIALS]End the culture warsThe new head of the National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts was appointed after a month-long dispute. But the national forum of traditional arts professors that had strongly opposed the appointment, even until the day before it was announced, said it would continue the fight.
The row was started by widespread doubts about the fairness of the selection process, so we urge the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to reflect over what it did wrong and correct the errors. Since the Kim Dae-jung administration, most government-appointed seats in the cultural sector were open to applications by the public. That means that the examining committees must operate without a hint of bias or favoritism. But the culture ministry has been vague in its answers as to how the committee that selected a new head of the performing arts center was selected, and that triggered more doubts among people who think something is amiss.
Since the Roh Moo-hyun administration was inaugurated, several heads of affiliated agencies under the culture ministry have been replaced, including the heads of the National Museum, the Culture and Arts Foundation, the Korean Film Archives, the Korea Broadcasting Advertising Corp. and the National Museum of Contemporary Arts.
There are more new appointments coming in the next four years. The ministry must find a way to guarantee the fairness of selection procedures if it does not want this kind of dispute to take place again.
But our cultural leaders should also stop creating tension and conflict. Falling into the temptation to divide the cultural sector into factions will not help the competitiveness of the sector. Whether the cultural sector exhausts itself in an energy-wasting dispute or not will depend on the head of the agencies involved. The source of such temptation rises from the suspicion that subsidies for the cultural sector are not being distributed fairly. If the responsibility of the ministry is to hand out the money fairly, it should strictly supervise the management of its affiliated agencies and make sure that there are no allegations of favoritism.