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An Insight in Korea-EU Cultural Cooperation
An Insight in Korea-EU Cultural Cooperation
Writer : Marie Le Sourd_Secretary General, On the Move 2014.08.05 Asia > Korea

An Insight in Korea-EU Cultural Cooperation
[Trends] Trends of cultural Exchange Between the EU and South Korea Report

In September 2012, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) asked the European Expert Network on Culture (EENC) to map existing trends in cultural exchange between the EU and South Korea (hereinafter Korea) and their economic dimension. The request arose in the context of the implementation of the Protocol on Cultural Cooperation, which entered into force in 2011 as part of the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement. The team of the cultural mobility information network On the Move subsequently worked on the report together with Dr. Sung-Won Yoon(Assistant Professor, The University of Suwon, Department: Global Business). The report is available online since January 2013 and was updated with new figures about the audio-visual sector in September 2013. The present article pinpoints the most important findings of the report, while putting this Korea/EU dialogue in a more international perspective by highlighting recent evolutions,


After an introduction on cultural policy in Korea, the report 「EU-South Korea: Current Trends of Cultural Exchange and Future Perspective」 focuses on five main disciplines and/or areas related to cultural exchange between the EU and South Korea: Publishing sector; Performing Arts; Cultural heritage; Artists’ mobility; Audio-visual sector. Korea is rather well represented in Europe and has signed more than 16 culture-related agreements with EU countries since the beginning of its democratization process. Europe is represented in South Korea through 4 national cultural institutes in Seoul and 5 embassies with a cultural department, whereas 6 of the23 existing Korean Cultural Centres are located in EU.

One interesting remark, transversal to all the abovementioned cultural disciplines and sectors, is that if Europe/the EU is an important world region for Korean cultural organizations and funding bodies, often it is not a strategic priority area, particularly for the publishing and the audio-visual sectors (with the exception of France for the latter). The Korean publishing sector - which is extremely active in the fields of comics, children and education books –mainly targets the Asian region, and particularly China and Japan. Apart from English, books are not very often translated in other European languages, despite the support, for instance, of France and Germany for translations into these languages. E-books in Korea are thriving thanks to support measures enacted since 2010 by the Korea Electronic Publishing Association and by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. This may explain why Google has chosen Korea as the first Asian country to launch its e-book business, as well as the agreement for over 700 e-book titles signed in May 2012 at the London Book Fair between the Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Agency (SBPRA) and Language World Digital (LWDigital), a South Korea-based distributor.

As far as the audio-visual sector is concerned, the number of film co-productions between Korea and EU countries is rather limited: out of 60 total co-productions, only a few involve EU-based partners, of which one with the Netherlands in 2006 and four since 2006 with France (two as part of the France-South Korea Film Co-production Agreement and two outside of it). If co-productions can of course occur outside specific bilateral agreements, film co-production agreements can however have a positive impact on distribution while facilitating the opportunity to work with a third party. For example Korean film professionals have developed strong links during the past years with their Chinese colleagues, in particular thanks to their expertise in the digital cinematography processing and distribution, and this can open up opportunities for European producers engaging with South Koreans. If Korean films often make the headlines in important European Film Festivals in Europe (Cannes, Berlin, etc.), these films – often considered as “art-house” - have usually less impact in the Korean internal market, which may prefer blockbusters and action films. As regards foreign investment in the broadcasting and culture field, Asia plays a prominent role, followed by the USA and Europe. In terms of exports of films, Asia still comes first as a destination, with 56.94% of the total exports. Europe comes second before the USA but has lost some share - from 33.26% of the total export in 2010 to 22.23%in 2011.For the export of TV series, Asia ranks first much ahead of USA and Europe even if recently, benefiting of the internationalization of the South Korean wave, hallyu, the rights of South Korean TV series have been acquired by European TV networks or channels (France, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Belgium and Spain). Finally, one sector that is constantly in progress is the animation, in particular through the facilitation of the European Animation Film Association-Cartoon. More than 10 projects are being developed with a Korea-EU dimension, which can increase the distribution opportunities for these films in Europe.

In the performing arts field, if most of the touring of Korean groups and companies are related to classical forms of music and performing arts, there has been in the past 10-15 years a real investment in supporting more contemporary forms of performing arts both inside and outside Korea. Beyond supporting projects worldwide and specific partnerships (for instance with the project “Korea-Finland Connection” in 2010-2012), Korea Arts Management Service(KAMS) regularly publishes statistics and data which are often a very good source of online and accessible data about theAsian scene. The Performing Arts Market of Seoul(PAMS), celebrating its tenth year anniversary in October 2014, has become a key meeting point in Asia for Korean, Asian and international performing art practitioners and professionals. Europe was twice the highlight of the PAMS within its first decade of development, in 2007(in conjunction with an International Contemporary Performing Arts Network- IETM meeting) and in 2012 with a special focus on Eastern European countries.


According to the information gathered through a recent mapping of mobility funding opportunities for artists and cultural professionals in Asia, South Korea is - after Australia and Japan - one of the key countries to provide funds not only for outgoing mobility (mostly as part of a marketing strategy, as through the grants offered by the Korea Foundation, Arts Council of Korea-ARKO or KAMS) but also for incoming mobility, particularly in the fields of training and cultural exchange programme with a stronger focus on Asia. As a way to be more visible on the international arts and cultural scene, since about a decade Korea is characterized by its “regular signing activity” of international or regional agreements, partnerships and memberships. All sectors are concerned, but the cultural heritage field is particularly significant: 8 out of the 11 South Korean sites included in the UNESCO international list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity were added since 2009.However, only three agreements with European partners in these fields (museums, universities, research centers) have been signed, namely with the United Kingdom, Hungary and France. A framework agreement in cultural affairs exists since 1965 with Italy as well.

The report ends with a set of recommendations, encouraging in particular:
- More people-to-people professional encounters, which build on past experiences and are sustainable in their outcomes;
- More diversity, in particular with regards to the types of projects presented from Korea in European countries (including more contemporary art forms);
- More support to youth and education, while paying particular attention to the growing number of South Koreans undertaking arts and culture studies in Europe;
- More cooperation between cities and regions, considering the Korean branding action on cities and the concept of European Capitals of Culture;
- More sharing of cultural mobility statistics and data : considering South Korea’s great number of research institutes in the field of arts and culture, a survey on mobility flows between South Korea and EU could be encouraged as the first initiative of this kind between EU and a third country.

Similar recommendations appear in the 2014 report of the preparatory action related to the role of “Culture in EU external relations” and particularly the focus on young people, on cities and regions, the need for alternative models of peer-to-peer learning and the necessity of a more regular monitoring and evaluation (linked to the abovementioned collection of data).This report is the outcome of a sixteen-month inquiry led by a consortium of 8 cultural organizations and institutes, covering 54 countries, of which 4 in Asia (India, Japan, China and South Korea). Finally, as regards the positioning of Europe/Korea and the world, It is interesting to notice that Korea has also an interest in developing stronger links with the Arab region and Africa, as highlighted in the public forum of the Platform meeting between cultural mobility funders from Europe and Asia in Prague on 6th June 2013 by Mr. Jae-wal Jung and Ms. Yu-mi Hwangbo, respectively President and Manager of the International Relations Head quarters at KAMS. Since then, KAMS has partnered with On the Move and the Arab Education Forum to support the production of the Guide to Funding Opportunities for the mobility of artists and culture professionals – Focus on 13 Arab countries. 1) If the basis for cooperation does exist between EU and Korea, this particular relationship shall be nurtured in a more substantive way within the scope of a diverse and multi-layered international cultural dialogue. To highlight and reinforce the richness of the artistic exchange between Korea and EU countries, it would be highly profitable to have a more refined evaluation of the exchange and mobility flows between EU and Korea/Asia, considering the whole of contemporary art forms and practices and identifying niches for which stronger support would be needed.

1) Prepared by Marie Le Sourd, Secretary General, On the Move and edited by Elena Di Federico, Communication and advocacy manager. Contacts: mobility(at)on-the-move.org & info(at)on-the-move.org http://on-the-move.org

◈ Resources

- EU-South Korea: Current Trends of Cultural Exchange and Future Perspective

- Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement

- Protocol on Cultural Cooperation

- Cultural mobility funding guides – Asia (funded by the Asia-Europe Foundation) – Check under Korea: http://culture360.asef.org/asef-news/mobility/

- Cultural mobility funding guides: Focus on 13 Arab countries (support by Korea Arts Management Service and Research by the Arab Education Forum):

- Report publication: Culture in EU external relations
※ including report on Korea:
http://cultureinexternalrelations.eu/main-outcomes/ (scroll down for country report)

- Platform meeting of cultural mobility funders from Europe and Asia, Prague (Czech Republic), 5-6 June 2014


Marie Le Sourd_Secretary General, On the Move

Marie Le Sourd_Secretary General, On the Move



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