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Korea becomes a nation of cultural exports

2012/02/13 | 522 views |  | Permalink | Source

As Korean culture has become global and more people have been interested in quality of life, there has been steady growth in the culture, tourism, and sports.

Korea's culture has spread across the world thanks to continuous investment and the Korean wave, known as Hallyu. Through hosting various tourism events such as the Visit Korea Year and a number of international conferences, the number of foreign visitors to Korea has rapidly increased.

Above picture: The number of transfer passengers at Incheon International Airport has hit an all-time record in January. The airport hosted various events for foreign visitors to Korea.(Photo: Yonhap News)

In the last four years, various types of Korean cultural products have been exported. In a total of twelve fields including publishing, music, gaming, and film, Korea made sales worth 82.614 trillion won and exported USD 4.159 billion of cultural products last year. Compared to the previous year, sales increased by 14.6% while exports increased by 28.9%.

In the last five years from 2007 to 2011, Korean cultural exports have increased by 25.2% per year on average. Moreover, while the overall unemployment rate has increased in Korea, the employment rate in the culture industry has steadily increased. The industry created from 490,000 jobs in 2008 and 590,000 jobs in 2011.

The reasons for the growth of the culture industry in Korea include the government's support regarding various regulations, changes to the media environment, and Hallyu.

The Korean video game industry has been outstandingly successful. According to a report issued by the Korea Creative Content Agency and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korean gaming industry made sales of 9.11 trillion won last year, a 22.7% increase compared to sales from the previous year.

The quantity of gaming exports also has increased by 37.7% to 2.211 billion dollars. It was analyzed that the popularity of smartphones and an increase in export of smartphone games have contributed to the increase of Korean video game exports.

Photo: Gonggam Korea

The Korean music industry also has rapidly increased from 2.6 trillion won of sales in 2008 to 3.78 trillion of sales in 2011. Due to the overseas expansion of K-pop and Korean musical performances, the amount of music industry exports increased to USD 177 million last year. The sales volume of the character industry in Korea, including popular cartoon characters such as Pororo, totaled 7.05 trillion won last year, increased by 19.7% compared to the sales of the previous year.

Meanwhile, the Korean government has expanded the investment volume for R&D in Culture Technology (CT) which is expected to develop of the culture industry further.

The budget for CT increased from 13.9 billion won in 2007 to 77.6 billion won in 2011.

The amount of cultural infrastructure that is readily available to citizens including libraries, art centers, museums, and art galleries, has steadily increased from 1,394 buildings in 2008 to 1,751 buildings in 2010.

The temple stay has become one of the most popular tour products for foreign visitors to Korea. (Photo: Yonhap News)

Since May 2008, national museums and art galleries have been open to the public free of charge. With the opening of the digital library in May 2009, the government has responded to the needs of the times.

Starting in 2012, the budget for the voucher system that provides travel, cultural, and sporting activities for the needy will increase from 53.8 billion won to 73.65 billion won so that more needy people can benefit.

The tourism industry has been showing an upward trend since 2008. Tourism revenue have continuously increased, exceeding USD 10 billion in 2010.

The number of foreign visitors to Korea has increased from 6.45 million in 2007 to 9.8 million in 2011. Thanks to active promotion, improvements to the system for issuing visas, and eased regulations for immigration along with the Visit Korea Year, the number of visitors has steadily increased.

Another effective factor was the development of medical tour products, temple stays, and tour packages for Korean traditional houses as the representative tour products of Korea. The International Exposition Yeosu Korea 2012 which will open on Mary 12 this year is expected to be the catalyst to attracting more foreign visitors. The Korean government is planning to attract 10 million foreign visitors by the end of this year when the Visit Korea Year draws to a close.

As the five-day work week has become standard and the standard of living has increased, the number of public sporting facilities such as stadiums, gyms, and swimming pools has also increased.

The number of public sporting facilities has increased from 12,342 buildings in 2008 to 15,179 in 2010. The area of sports facilities per capita also has increased from an average of 2.54 square meters in 2008 to 3.3 square meters in 2011. By 2025, the government is planning to achieve 5.7 average square meters per person.

By Jessica Seoyoung Choi
Korea.net Staff Writer

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