Fellow Koreans, culture and arts professionals,
We are prevailing over the COVID-19 pandemic and beginning a new civilization that is defined by non-face-to-face contact. Online communication is increasingly taking the place of meeting in person. Cultural content is also available online in real time. The sphere of online services has vastly expanded. The digitalization of content is making it possible for different services to unceasingly combine together and expand further, going beyond their respective boundaries.
Online services have already been deeply woven into the fabric of our everyday life, and their pace is accelerating more and more. Live concerts by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra can be enjoyed worldwide through online live-streaming services. Following the success of SM Entertainment’s online paid-subscriber concerts, BTS attracted 760,000 viewers to their pay-per-view concert. This attests to the fact that contact-free concerts can generate their own audiences and profits.
Content is expanding across the board into manufacturing and service industries, transcending the realm of culture and the arts. Big data and artificial intelligence technologies will usher in an era of customization that can provide goods and services to meet specific individual needs. Self-driving cars, smart appliances and smart homes will help enhance competitiveness by adding functions that promote communication and empathy.
This is a golden opportunity for us to sharpen the competitive edge of our digital content industry by combining our digital capabilities and cultural potential as typified by Hallyu. Now is the time that we should use our people-first inclusiveness to spearhead a compassionate digital age.
Presently, offline fields – movie theaters, concerts and drama production – continue to suffer. We have to get a head start in taking on challenges in new domains. Enhancing the competitiveness of our digital content industry is key to unlocking a new future for Korea. Today, with the people, I would like to declare the renaissance of the Republic of Korea’s content in the post-Covid-19 era.
Our content is already globally competitive. We have embraced cultures from other countries and developed them as our own. We have sympathized with humanity’s sufferings via emotions that are universal, eliciting empathy. Forbes magazine referred to the enthusiasm for BTS as “their new normal.” Behind the global emergence of Korea’s soft power capabilities are passionate, creative culture and arts professionals as well as a populace that enjoys culture and the arts. It was not by chance that BTS topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for two consecutive weeks and the film “Parasite” won top honors at the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Awards.
K-pop, K-films and K-dramas as well as our webtoons, games, broadcasts and animation are enjoying enormous popularity in the global market. Hallyu has swept over Asia to spread to the United States and Europe, and the number of Hallyu fans around the world has now exceeded 100 million.
Last year, our content exports surpassed US$10 billion for the first time. Despite COVID-19-induced difficulties, K-pop album sales increased by 42 percent in the first half of this year. Korea recorded its first surplus ever in the trade of copyrighted cultural and arts content, and our country’s trade surplus in copyrighted materials hit a record high of over US$ 1 billion in the first half of this year. Hallyu’s popularity has also boosted our exports of food and beauty goods.
I feel truly proud of our arts and cultural figures and content creators, who are blazing a brand new, unparalleled trail. You are the source of hope for the Republic of Korea’s digital content industry. For its part, the Government will become your beacon of hope and strive to build a country that is a world leader in digital content.
The Government will foster and further expand the ecosystem of the digital content industry through the Korean New Deal. We will add heartwarming cultural strength to a technology-based economy.
First, we will spearhead the digitalization of content.
The Government has to date provided support for small and medium-sized business ventures’ content development abilities and devised three innovation strategies for the content industry, thereby enhancing the ability to innovate digital content. Kakao’s Piccoma recorded the highest sales for a webtoon platform in Japan, the world’s largest market for comics – a success story for the advance of both domestic webtoons and their platform.
We will lay a foundation that allows people to create and experience digital content in a bolder manner. We will help small and medium-sized production agencies hold online K-pop concerts and actively communicate with global fans by expanding infrastructure such as online concert halls.
We will push ahead with the Gwanghwamun project and create a huge space to experience immersive content through reproductions of the past, present and future of this historic landmark in Seoul. We will play a leading role in revitalizing the tourism industry by turning our cultural assets into three-dimensional video content. We will also create a new model for boosting exports online by holding the “On: Hallyu Festival” which lets people experience K-pop performances, food and beauty products online.
Second, we will take the lead when it comes to digital content technology.
The Government created a new venture investment fund and has earnestly promoted development of immersive content technologies. Korea-based DIGISONIC, a developer of 3D spatial sound technology, is advancing into overseas markets in partnership with Google.
The Government will secure core technologies related to virtual reality, augmented reality and holograms by investing over 330 billion won by 2025 to nurture immersive content. We will support the development of educational and therapeutic games, thereby expanding the game industry’s base.
Moreover, we will help bolster investment in digital content through the Korean New Deal Fund and assist the technological development of immersive services related to culture and the arts. We will accelerate the development of next-generation music, film, animation and webtoons. In this way, we will build a foundation from which both innovative business ventures and SMEs that are developing digital content technology can grow.
Third, we will play a leading role in the building of a compassionate, inclusive country through digital content.
People are at the heart of the post-COVID-19 era. Keeping culture close at hand is also about contemplating the values sought by humanity. Digital content will greatly contribute to building an inclusive society that connects people through culture. We will redouble our efforts to narrow the digital divide, expand public digital content and increase the number of digital content-related jobs.
We will increase opportunities to experience e-books and audiobooks. By digitizing performances at the Seoul Arts Center and the National Theater of Korea, as well as museum and art gallery collections and books in libraries, we will raise the level of cultural welfare for seniors, people with disabilities and children.
Beginning in December, culture and arts professionals will be covered by employment insurance, and the application of standard labor contracts will be expanded. I hope that they will be able to demonstrate their creativity further in a stable employment environment. Moreover, we will foster 1,400 professionals, specialized in core technologies, encompassing augmented and virtual realities in order to increase the capabilities of the digital content industry.
Fellow Koreans, culture and arts professionals,
Our digital-content market is the fifth largest in the world after those of the United States, China, Japan and the United Kingdom. It is rapidly growing at 8.4 percent annually, second only to China. Moreover, we commercialized 5G technology for the first time in the world through the world’s most advanced information technology. We are also welcoming an era when our music and films are loved by people around the world.
In the post-COVID-19 era, Korea will become a digital content nation that will lead the world with the strength of our technology and content.
While manufacturing has helped build our economy over the past half century, cultural content will be the driving force for national development in the next century. I hope that culture and arts professionals, businesses and people will all come together and usher in the renaissance of our content.