Since the early 1990s, the Korean government has been enthusiastic about cultivating the cultural content industry after witnessing Hollywood movie “Jurassic Park” raking in money and British novel series “Harry Potter” made into movies, cartoons and other products consumed by tens of millions of people worldwide, generating millions of dollars in profits.
And thanks to Korean rapper Psy, who became a global phenomenon last year, and Korean performers making impressive forays into the global show business, the decades-long endeavor is close to bearing fruit.
From pop songs to movies, animated films, cartoons and online games, a variety of content has been enjoying remarkable success. According to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, a total of $4.37 billion of cultural content was exported in 2011, a sharp increase from $1.3 billion in 2006. It forecast the economic value of Korean cultural content would reach 19 trillion won by 2015, up from 12 trillion won in 2012.
|Korea Creative Content Agency President and CEO Hong Sang-pyo poses for The Korea Herald at his office in Sangam-dong, Seoul, Thursday. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)|
“In the ‘creative industry’-led era (as the new Park Geun-hye government put it), creativity and imagination are the source of all values. But it shouldn’t stay there. Making a money-making business out of it will really put life into all of it,” said Hong Sang-pyo, president and CEO of the Korea Creative Content Agency, in his interview with The Korea Herald on Thursday.
Established through a merger of several relevant institutions in 2009, the KOCCA, under the Culture Ministry, has so far invested 210 billion won in 70 projects producing cultural content known as “hallyu,” and saw a number of successful cases last year.
It has supported the production of television drama series “Deep Rooted Tree,” as well as critically acclaimed dramas such as “Ghost” and “King of Dramas.” It also supported the indigenous musical, “Sweet, Come to Me Stealthily,” with 3-D mapping and holography techniques.
“The computer graphics used for the recent box-office hit ‘Berlin’ and others were also made with the support of KOCCA. Any opportunity that could lead to something new, innovative, we are ready to take the chance on,” Hong said.
As a means to support aspiring content developers, KOCCA is planning to establish a credit union for content developers. The operation is scheduled to kick off in May, initially with the 2 billion won secured from the state coffers.
Han stressed that society needs to be more generous about taking risks and trial-and-error, as it is part of creative businesses. The former senior presidential secretary for public relations acknowledged that barely 1 out of 10 projects could be considered successful.
“Any technology development is a venture business, which means it has risks of failure. And it is the government’s role to absorb the failure from time to time, encourage people to move on. The bureaucracy has been very rigid in that area -― when they fund 10 tasks, they expect to have 7-8 successes, instead of a more realistic rate of 10-15 percent,” Hong said, expressing hopes for change.
“Content completion warranty” is one system that can bring about the needed change, Hong explained. Under the system, the agency would guarantee the completion of a certain cultural content production -― many sound projects turn sour due to lack of financial support -― with the future outcome as collateral, and would also help developers get loans or other financial assistance. The establishment of a Creative Content Lab focusing on fostering comprehensive smart content is also under consideration.
“I believe these attempts will strengthen our infrastructure in nurturing good ‘creative industry’ workers. We all know that creative industries not only add value to existing cultural products, but also create jobs. It is the future of our economy,” he said.
“And the agency will be the guardian and the stepping stone for the people.”
By Bae Ji-sook (email@example.com)