Cultural content jobs undervalued, study says

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Cultural content jobs undervalued, study says

To succeed with its creative economy initiative, the Korean government should elevate salaries for artists, designers, writers, people working in the cultural content industry and other members of the “creative class,” said the Korea Development Institute.

President Park Geun-hye and the Culture Ministry hope to increase the cultural content industry that was worth 91.5 trillion won ($89 billion) last year to 120 trillion won by 2017.

Compared to an average annual increase of 11 percent in all industries from 2007-12, the number of cultural content workers jumped 20 percent.

The study divided the creative class into three categories: cultural content, including writers, artists, designers and product planners; technology, such as programmers, software engineers and biotech workers; and professionals, such as lawyers, CEOs, politicians, financiers and physicians.

However, according to the state-run institute’s study released yesterday, cultural content workers were paid an average of about 12,800 won per hour in 2012, 15 percent less than engineers (17,500 won) and 23 percent less than professionals (21,900 won).

The study estimated that 2.9 million people belonged to the creative class in 2012, 11 percent more than in 2008. That translated to 12 percent of the total labor force in the country, based on job data from Statistics Korea.

Hwang Soo-kyung, a research fellow at the institute, found that people in cultural sectors were receiving lower salaries than engineers and other skilled professionals of similar years of work experience and educational backgrounds.

Hwang compared the salary levels for all workers in the country with 1 being the average.

The cultural content industry compensated its workers at a rate of 0.89.

Engineers receive an average salary level of 1.15.

Skilled professionals, including managerial- and executive-level employees, are compensated at a level of 1.37.

“Unlike engineers and skilled professionals working in creative industries, cultural content generators are compensated with the so-called penalized salary, meaning they are undervalued and undercompensated,” Hwang said.

She said such a tendency is a reflection of the fact that cultural creativity is still economically undervalued compared to other skills throughout the Korean economy.

“This may work as an obstacle to the government’s effort to foster cultural workers and generate economic values out of their outcomes,” she warned. “[There is a need that] understand the economic value of labor that generates cultural content and power of creativity and promote such values.”

BY kim ji-yoon [jiyoon.kim@joongang.co.kr]




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