Basic Law on Culture is welcomedAll South Koreans are now legally entitled to take part in and enjoy cultural activities and benefits. The Basic Law on Culture that just passed the National Assembly could help raise the nation’s living standards. The law, sponsored by Saenuri Party Representative Kim Jang-sil, is a rare bipartisan by-product of a long study. It is expected to pave the way for the country’s ascension to a cultural powerhouse.
The law not only stipulates a civilian’s right to culture, but also requires the central and local governments to consider the cultural effects in making policies. The law also helps to ensure that everyone, including the underprivileged, has easy access to cultural benefits. It demands easing the regional gap in cultural benefits and requires the government to set a five-year outline to promote culture. The Law on Promoting Culture and Arts enacted in 1972 mostly helped the supply-end, supporting cultural and arts organizations, performers and artists. The new law concentrates on the demand-side, encouraging every citizen to engage in cultural activities, encompassing tourism, sports, leisure and cultural education. The law engages the dramatic changes in the cultural sphere and their necessity around the world over the past four decades.
President Park Geun-hye’s personal interest in culture helped, but more importantly, the law is keeping abreast of the trend of the current times. The president’s slogan on building a creative economy, too, is not possible without cultural engagement. British citizens helped to rebuild their country’s status by reinterpreting and promoting cultural activities and assets. Even as barriers between culture and industry have been broken and cultural input to industrial development becomes more essential, the country cannot just systematically champion one of its biggest assets - Hallyu, a global benchmark of Korean pop culture.
President Park pledged to commit 2 percent of the fiscal budget to promote culture. The new law could be a good starting point. It must be accompanied by supplementary acts on regional cultural promotion. As important as bolstering public access and cultural welfare is the attention to the arts and artists. The newly created evaluation on businesses’ cultural promotion could be regarded as a new burden to companies. Cooperation among government offices and local governments must be smooth to help effectively execute the law. Officials also should be attentive so that budgets are not leaked and wasted.