Ministry to expand humanities programs

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Ministry to expand humanities programs

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced on Wednesday that it plans to expand its humanities programs this year amid increasing worries about the topic’s apparent decline.

The Humanities Spirit and Culture Expansion program was first launched last year. The program includes Storytelling Grandmas, in which elderly women visit day care centers or kindergartens to tell folk tales to children, just like they would in traditional extended families.

The program has gotten a financial boost this year to aid its expansion. Its new budget, the ministry said, has been set at 27.4 billion won ($25 million) for 2015, up 10.5 billion won from last year.

“One of the new programs is Sharing Life Story,” Choi Bo-keun, the ministry’s director general for cultural infrastructure policy, told journalists. “It’s where retired people share their experiences and the wisdom they have gained over their lives with teenagers, soldiers and social minorities.”

The ministry has allocated some 3 billion won for the Sharing Life Story program.

Calls have been mounting in Korea in recent years for more support and interest in humanities and liberal arts programs, as many universities have either abolished their humanities curriculum or merged them with others amid financial pressure.

Last August, a special task force for fostering humanities programs across the country proposed to develop expanded humanities programs in order to bridge social gaps and enrich people’s lives.

“From cradle to the grave, anybody will be able to take part in a wide spectrum of humanities programs,” said Won Yong-gi, the ministry’s deputy minister for culture and arts policy. “We will continue to extend direct and indirect support for the spirit and values of humanities to be spread across Korean society.”

BY KIM HYUNG-EUN [hkim@joongang.co.kr]
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