The so-called ‘creative economy’ is the Park Geun-hye administration’s key economic policy agenda. It can be defined as the creation of economic values by means of convergence between science technologies, industries and culture to keep in step with the new paradigm of economic globalization and diversification.
At the center of the quest is the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning. The organization is regarding the second half of this year as a critical momentum for the pursuit. It is planning to spur the development of creative economy based on the basic philosophy that information and communications technology forms the foundation of the cause.
The ministry has recently announced five action plans to that end -- establishment of creative economic ecosystems, enhancement of national scientific and technological standards, advancement of the ICT industry, realization of creative economy to share the benefits with all and improvement of the efficiency and productivity of the governance.
The business community is actively taking part in the government’s efforts, too. Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) chairman Huh Chang-soo said on July 24 at his opening address for FKI Summer Forum 2013, “The Korean economy is facing a great challenge both at home and abroad and now is the time for us to make a new breakthrough utilizing the concept of creative economy.”
He went on, “Our current situation may by the beginning of an overall decline in economic growth potential rather than a temporary shock, and I would like to stress that this challenge can be dealt with only by seeking new ways.” He mentioned creative economy as the answer and asked the government, the business world and the general public to work more closely together with one another. “Korean companies’ priceless experience of the Miracle of the Han River will be a valuable asset for the creative economy,” he continued, adding, “They should keep making aggressive investments in new industries and the government should do what it can do to give a new shape to the industrial and economic environments and infrastructure.”
Public organizations are currently working on diverse policy and support measures to accelerate the advent of creative economy. Companies are coming up with various related plans for R&D, capital investment and job creation while colleges, industrial associations and the academia are discussing relevant issues in a series of seminars and forums. Nevertheless, the people at large still have no confidence about what influence the creative economy will have on their everyday lives and whether it will really make new jobs.
People’s Participation is Essential for Creative Economy
The government’s and the business community’s investment and employment plans seem to concentrate on financial assistance, system improvement and R&D investment for now. However, money alone cannot achieve the goals of creative economy and job creation. What is more important is to allow it to flow into the entire economy so that even the middle and working class can feel the change.
There is no doubt that big business have their own merits in terms of expertise, information collection capabilities and R&D for business innovation but they might lack flexibility and out-of-box thinking due to their own organizational structures and systems.
“If the lack of creativity and flexibility can be supplemented by small and midsize enterprises, the effect of major corporations’ plans can be boosted,” said professor Song Oh-yeong at Chung Ang University. He explained, “This will be even more so if the awareness increases on the part of the general public and their active participation is guaranteed.”
Another essential part is the fostering of human resources. The thing is, today’s climate and framework of education in Korea is far from being capable of supporting young talents with brilliant and inventive ideas.
“It is Korean education that suppresses creative thinking,” Yonsei University professor Kim Sang-geun affirmed, continuing, “All of the children in Korea struggle only to enter high-ranking colleges without any hope or dream.” The professor pointed out, “Korean colleges are like apex predators that disturb the creative ecosystem but the key of the ecosystem is symbiosis.”
Cultural Renaissance, Groundwork for Creative Economy
In its reports published since 2008, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has defined creative economy as the creation of added values by combining innovative products, services and technologies, predicting that the culture industry will take the leading role in it.
The industry in European nations such as Britain, Finland and the Netherlands has grown mainly by their cultural and artistic assets. For example, the National Skills Academy (NSA) of the UK, which was opened in 2009, has acted as a bridge between industry and culture while running customer-oriented training programs. The membership organization is in cooperation with 200 or so theaters, 20 colleges, live music employers nationwide, etc.
Korean president Park Geun-hye, during the first meeting of the Cultural Renaissance Committee as of late, said, “Cultural renaissance is the alchemy of the 21st century and the foundation of the creative economic ecosystem to add new value to the other industries and the government will put great weight on it to promote creative economy.”
She remarked, “Culture, when combined with science, IT and the other sectors, can infuse creativity into them as seen in the cases of the Beatles and Harry Porter. Let’s make good use of Hallyu for the globalization of the Korean language, Korean food and construction and so forth to further the development of our economy.”
What Would Be the Possible Limitation of Creative Industry?
In the meantime, some experts are pointing out that the realization of creative economy is being led by big businesses rather than individual entrepreneurs or small firms even though it has put emphasis on the creative thinking of individuals.
The same thing has been pointed out in Britain as well, which has focused on the growth of the sector for as long as 15 years. There, it is said that creative industry is like a sandglass, where a very small number of corporate giants and very tiny firms are at both ends and precious few midsize companies are in the middle.
John Newbigin, author of Creative Britain - New Talents for the New Economy, advised that public policy should be able to ensure the sustainability of business continuity in the sector. “Most of the British government’s support measures in the industry were about setting up new firms rather than how to better nurture them, and thus it would be well advised to present long-term assistance strategies now.”