The Culture Ministry yesterday announced a set of plans to develop the "Han (Korean)" brand in an effort to enhance the value of Korean culture and to further promote the country's image abroad.
Under the five-year "Han Style project" that starts this year, the ministry and other government agencies will help globalize the Han brand by investing 270 billion won ($289 million) in six traditional cultural themes - hangeul (Korean language), hansik (Korean food), hanji (mulberry paper), hanbok (traditional dress), hanok (traditional house) and hankuk eumak (traditional music).
"We have so far failed to redefine the value of Korean culture. (The government) will fully support the globalization of Korean culture from now on by nurturing Korean products and providing a deeper understanding of Korean language, lifestyle and traditional culture", Culture Minister Kim Myung-gon said at a news conference.
The announcement came a week after Kim addressed the need to create "new hallyu" that is more interactive than the current one.
The minister stressed that the globalization of the Han brand will be a core project to form "new hallyu".
According to the project, the government plans to offer Korean language classes to foreigners interested in Korea by setting up 100 Sejong centers abroad until 2011.
For this year, the government will support constructing 18 centers in Asian countries including China and Mongolia.
Financial support will also be provided for artists designing art by taking inspiration from Hangeul.
To globalize hansik, the government plans to double the number of Korean restaurants overseas up to 7,600 as well as to encourage local businesses to run Korean restaurants at international airports.
The government will encourage the hanbok industry to increase sales up to 120 billion won by 2011 from the current 20 billion won. It will also help hanbok designers enter foreign markets by encouraging them to participate in international fashion shows.
The government will also assist local performing arts troupes performing unique Korean style performances. It expects to generate approximately 100 billion won in sales by 2011 by globalizing Korean music and performing arts.
The government has been devising a way to rebrand Korean culture, noting that it is the most essential element in creating a national brand image.
Korea was the 10th strongest brand in the world last year with an estimated value of $866 billion in a survey of 39 countries, according to local research.
The government plans to raise the global ranking of the country's brand value to 8th.
By Cho Chung-un