Support the cartoon industryI frequently visit the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism website to get various information for work, and a few days ago, my Chrome browser denied access as the site was not secure.
How could an official government website be not secure? Regrettably, the website error reflects the current state of the ministry. Intentional or not, the ministry deserves to be criticized for unfair grouping and blacklist when it should offer unbiased assistance for autonomous development of arts and culture. But the entire ministry should not be considered “unsafe,” as it could hinder the consistency of cultural administration. The fates of the cultural contents startup companies located in government-funded centers are shaky.
For the animation, comics and game industry, government, industry and academia have been working together on PR efforts, planning and hosting events, preparing awards and providing assistance. The government took the initiative, and when a project matures, it would become privatized. Many assistance programs empowered the industry, and research projects accumulated data.
The active administrative assistance of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism was in the foundation of the new contents era of webtoons. In 2013, the Korea Communications Standards Commission reviewed and classified some 20 webtoons to be harmful to young people. The industry feared the possibility that the newly established online comics market may be restricted by regulations.
Webtoons are not newly invented contents of the 21st century but an evolved form of the comics rooted in paper publication. For policy consistency, the Ministry of Culture needs to move in the direction to simultaneously promote both industry and culture.
Just as in all cultural fields, the comics industry, which has prepared a foothold for dramatic development with new and creative webtoons, is no exception. The ministry must thoroughly repent their past wrongdoings and involvement in the corruption and power abuse scandal and reinvent itself as a government agency that can maintain consistent cultural administration and support cultural diversity.
*A comics critic and professor at Chungkang College of Cultural Industries.