By Chung Ah-young
Culture and Tourism Minister Kim Myong-gon yesterday said that the ministry will launch a promotional campaign for six Korean traditional brands to diversify the contents of "hallyu", the Korean pop culture boom in Asia.
The 55–year-old actor-turned-minister announced the plan to unveil 30 top cultural agendas, including the hallyu issue, during his term in office at the press conference at the Press Center in central Seoul to mark the 100th day since his inauguration.
He said that the ministry will develop the so-called "6H", which means six Korean traditional brands including "hangul", Korean alphabet, "hansik", traditional food, "hanbok", traditional costumes, "hanok", traditional houses, "Hanji"
, traditional mulberry paper, and "hankuk umak", tradition music.
Kim said that the ministry will put more emphasis on Korean traditional arts to help the on-going hallyu boom continue to flourish in more regions.
Under the plan, the ministry will establish traditional-arts-only performing centers and increase the ratio of traditional music information in primary and secondary school textbooks from the current 30-40 percent to 50 percent.
"Korean pop culture, including soap operas, songs and films, is still enjoying strong popularity in China and Japan. To continue the boom, the ministry is planning to target more countries on a strategic and regional basis", Kim said.
"Korean stars cannot support the growing popularity of Korean culture alone. Diversifying cultural contents and adding to the regions can help prevent the boom from just bursting afterwards", he said.
"Many foreigners are becoming interested in Korean traditional arts and customs as well as Korean pop culture", he added.
The ministry will divide the regions according to the degree of popularity enjoyed in each to more effectively support the programs.
Kim said that the ministry will strengthen the programs not only in China and Japan, where the hallyu wave has been already sweeping, but also other countries such as Vietnam and Mongolia where Korean pop culture is booming.
The ministry is mulling over encouraging Korean pop culture in Eastern European countries and South American countries, Kim said.
As part of the strategic cultural exchange with more countries, the ministry will set up more Korean culture centers in such cities as Beijing, Osaka, Buenos Aires, Shanghai, Berlin, and London.
The Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles, U.S., is scheduled to open in September, along with its counterpart in Beijing, China in December.
He also emphasized that mutual understanding among the countries that love Korean pop culture is necessary to forestall criticism that Korea has dominated the cultures of other countries.
He said that the ministry will step up ties with Asian countries that widely consume Korean cultural products.
Kim took the helm of the office on March 27 amid on-going protests by the local film industry against the government's proposed free trade agreement with the United States.
Kim was renowned for his role in "Seopyeonje
", a prize-winning movie released in 1993 about a family of Korean traditional "pansori" singers trying to make a living in the modern world.