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Minister shares plans on continuing to make Korea ‘culturally attractive’

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Park Bo-gyoon, minister of culture, sports and tourism, speaks during a press conference held on Tuesday to mark his first year of taking office. [YONHAP]
Park Bo-gyoon, minister of culture, sports and tourism, speaks during a press conference held on Tuesday to mark his first year of taking office. [YONHAP]

Culture Minister Park Bo-gyoon, who accompanied President Yoon Suk Yeol on his recent visit to the U.S., said on Tuesday during a press conference that he was able to once again, witness the popularity of Korean culture overseas and that he returned home determined that the ministry’s role in such a time should be “somewhat like a conductor behind the stage, who works hard and provides full support, but is not seen.”

The press conference was organized to mark Park’s first year since taking office.

“I always hear that a long line is formed whenever an event gets organized on Korean culture by Korean culture centers overseas. Foreigners are much more enthusiastic toward K-culture than Koreans think,” Park said. “The Culture Ministry will make sure we are there to support different areas that fall under K-culture but also be in a position where we don’t interfere.”

There were criticisms back in the day when the government used it as a prefix on every item they wished to promote overseas, but Park says he believes the “real deals that have proven to be competitive,” such as K-pop, K-drama, K-film, K-food, K-beauty and K-dance have helped the letter regain its reputation.

“We, the government, have to make sure the letter ‘K’ continues to have that brand power so it guarantees quality while making efforts to erase the image that it’s something that the government overuses,” Park said.

This year, Park said he hopes to use the letter before Korea’s wrestling, ssireum, and Korean traditional music, gugak.

“I just see so much potential for them to appeal to the global audience so I promised that I will support the areas more actively this year,” said Park.

A year ago, after being appointed as the Culture Minister, Park said he hoped to turn Korea into a “culturally attractive country.”

Park, during the press conference, said he had specifically used the term “culturally attractive” because he believes, “unlike economic and military power, the power of culture can have influence when it softly touches people’s hearts with its charms.”

Such efforts, according to Park, include opening up the Blue House to the public and holding numerous events that include artists with disabilities. The first art exhibit at the Blue House last year centered on such artists. A total of 60 works by 50 artists with disabilities were exhibited at Chunchugwan Press Center for a month-long exhibition.

Park said the Culture Ministry has also worked hard to include senior citizens in cultural activities. This year, the ministry expanded its “Storytelling Grandma” program, in which female senior citizens get trained to read story books to young children at kindergartens across the country, and will be holding a “fun storytelling competition among grandmothers, somewhat like the hit dance competition program ‘Street Women Fighter’ [on Mnet],” said Park.

“We hope to continue to be inclusive and indiscriminative, while supporting creative talents and make sure Korea stands strong as a culturally attractive country,” said Park.

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

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