&#91EDITORIALS&#93Japan culture non-event

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&#91EDITORIALS&#93Japan culture non-event

The government will allow Japanese movies and music and game software to be imported freely into Korea beginning next January. Although Japanese television programs and filmed animations are still nearly banned in Korea, the market opening to Japanese popular culture, which was initiated in 1998, is nearly complete. The results of the phased opening have been successful overall.
During the three phases of the opening, most Japanese films were allowed in movie theaters, but the imports were not able to capture even a 5 percent share in the market. Meanwhile, domestic films gained momentum, commanding a market share of over 40 percent for the last three years. Last year, the Korean film “Chihwaseon” won an award for best director at the Cannes Film Festival and another film, “Oasis,” won one at the Venice Film Festival. This is an indication that domestic films’ popularity is not just a phenomenon driven by patriotic Korean fans.
After the second phase opening, Japanese musical concerts were held from time to time, but their impact was insignificant. In contrast, television dramas jointly produced by Korean and Japanese stations and Korean entertainers in Japan stirred a “Korean fever” among Japanese youngsters. We hope the fourth phase opening would bring about a more favorable reaction in Japan.
Our society descended into turmoil every time Korea took a step to open because of the unhappy history between the two countries. There is a hostile sentiment among the public to the policy. But we cannot postpone a full opening to Japanese popular culture forever, and the world is now online around the clock.
The opening, however, should not end with a one-way opening. The government ought to make efforts to support domestic popular culture industries and help them to enter the Japanese market. Our animation industry, which is just starting to show its potential, needs continued assistance from the government. It is time for those who have cultural aspirations to stride onto the international stage with the confidence they gained from the opening to Japanese culture.
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