Ministry of Culture starts investigation into blacklist

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Ministry of Culture starts investigation into blacklist

Under the newly appointed minister, Do Jong-whan, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism officially launched the ministry’s own investigative committee into the blacklist scandal on Monday, following its first meeting at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in central Seoul.

The investigative committee will be co-headed by Do and Shin Hak-chul, a “Minjung artist,” or artist of the Minjung political and cultural movement that called for democratization in the 1980s.

According to the culture ministry, the committee comprises 21 people, including four culture ministry officials and 17 experts in the country’s arts and culture circle.

“The new administration’s very first task of cleaning up the deep-rooted power abuse exerted by the former government is finding the real facts of the blacklist scandal and improving the institutional system,” said Do during a press briefing on Monday. “Everyone has the right not to get ruled out from benefits or be discriminated against or monitored by the government. To make sure such a list never gets drawn up ever again, we’ll come up with an institutional strategy.”

Shin, who is co-chairing the committee, also noted that “for Korean artists, freedom of expression was not guaranteed and it still isn’t guaranteed today.”

Shin added, “Taking this blacklist scandal case as a lesson, I hope to be of help in creating a system that allows artists from now on to be treated fairly, without fear or favor.”

The investigative committee will operate under three different subcommittees: the investigating team, system improvement team and a team that will publish a white paper.

During the first meeting, the co-chairs and three more chairs of the three subcommittees were elected, and cultural projects that had been suspended upon being blacklisted by the previous government were noted for continuance.

The investigative committee will operate for six months. But, if necessary, this can be extended by three more months. The general meeting will be held once a week while meetings among subcommittees will be held more than once a week.

Meanwhile, regarding the lower court’s decision that cleared former Culture Minister Cho Yoon-sun of her alleged involvement in the blacklist scandal, Do said that he is aware that the public and artists are not pleased with the ruling and that he, also an artist, sympathizes with such dissatisfaction.

“An appeals trial will be held while the investigative committee is in operation,” he said. “Therefore, we hope to find new facts behind the scandal.”

BY YIM SEUNG-HYE [sharon@joongang.co.kr]

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