‘Creation’ is not a magic wandWhen you hear the word “creation,” possibly you think of Joseph Haydn’s classical masterpiece or the first Korean literary magazine founded in 1919. “Creative economy” is a little trickier to grasp, and I am not the only one who finds the phrase awkward. It seems our public servants are busily studying the phrase. The Ministry of Future Planning and Science started an Office of Creative Economy Planning and the Ministry of Security and Public Administration has opened the Office of Creative Government Strategies. Call it Korea’s creationism.
Last week, a minister invited Yonsei University Institute of Convergence Technology Professor Yoon Jong-lok, an evangelist of the so-called creative economy, for a special lecture, and a few days later, Professor Yoon was appointed the second vice minister of the Ministry of Future Planning and Science. The Ministry of Health and Welfare wants to “nurture health and welfare industries to realize a creative economy” and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy aims to “train and educate industrial convergence talents to lead a creative economy.” The private sector is also riding a “creative” boom.
“Green” was the keyword of the Lee Myung-bak Administration. It is no longer highlighted by the administration of his successor, Park Geung-hye. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport’s director of green future and the Ministry of Environment’s director of green environment planning either no longer exist or have new names. Half a century ago, right after the May 16 coup, “Let’s reconstruct” was a commonly used greeting. “Reconstruction outfit” was popular, and when a couple spent a day together without spending much money, it was called a “reconstruction date.”
A new administration approaches its citizens with new terms and phrases: “Realization of a just society” for Chun Doo-hwan, “Era of the average people” for Roh Tae-woo, “Internationalization” for Kim Young-sam, “The second founding of the nation” for Kim Dae-jung, “Innovation” for Roh Moo-hyun. They may not be grand administrative philosophies, but they articulated the objectives of each administration.
However, if you treat language as something with the powers of voodoo, it will lose its vitality fast. We have witnessed the tendency for government officials to hide behind a slogan or use it as a shield. In the process, a fresh term becomes rotten, corrupt and ends up as a joke by the end of the administration.
We are supposed to be talking about creation. When the term is used and abused like a Kleenex, it betrays its very definition. It no longer stands for anything creative. If everyone cries out for “creation” in unison, real creation will be nowhere to be seen.
*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Noh Jae-hyun