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Min Sun PARK, CJ E&M Performing Arts Production Team Manager
Min Sun PARK, CJ E&M Performing Arts Production Team Manager
Interviewer : Jooyoung KOH _ Korea Arts Management Service 2011.05.17 Asia > Korea
Min Sun PARK _ CJ E&M Performing Arts Production Team Manager
CJ E&M is a subsidiary of CJ Corporation, one of the leading South Korean companies in the food, pharmacy, finance and home shopping industries. Starting as a multimedia department of CJ in 1995, it became incorporated as an independent entity under the name of CJ Entertainment for production and distribution of films, music pieces, performing arts and games. Again in March 2011, it was reborn as CJ E&M (Entertainment & Media).

Performing Arts Division of CJ E&M mainly consists of four teams: Performing Arts Production Team which plans and produces musicals, dramas and valet performances; Performing Arts Investment Team which funds independent art productions; Synergy Business Team which organizes music festivals, concerts and national cultural events; and Venue Managing Team which operates ArtMADANG (2 wings) functioning as venue for performance of creative musicals and dramas, and newly opened Culture Space NU (360 seats).

Building a long career as producer working for troupes, festivals and art halls, Min Sun PARK joined CJ Entertainment in 2006. Since then, she has been managing core theatrical production activities such as discovery of talented artists, development of art works, and operation of musical showcases, Culture Space NU and CJ Arts Center.
Did you major in directing?
Born in the Southern part of Korea, I had never experienced theatrical performance prior to college. College education, I believe, should be about academic pursuance, rather than for practical reasons. So, I decided on theatre. Based on literature and philosophy, it is active due to its nature. That was why. In college, however, I got to believe that directing and art are for the naturally talented. Unfortunately until the mid-1990s, Koreans were not familiar with the terms like art planning and producing. There were no relevant educational programs, either. So, I opted for planning to realize my capacity in the area of my choice.

After graduation, you have worked with numerous renowned artists.
Right upon graduation, I started my career at YOU Theater then led by actor In Chon YOU. [YOU also served as former Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism under the Lee administration]. Then, I helped open a theater in Cheongdam-dong, Seoul. Despite its fame as mecca of fashion and culture, the area was culturally barren at that time. I took charge of planning there. YOU Theater was an organization created and led by a single artist, leaving little room for me. Thus, I left it. As freelancer, I participated in production of Bride of May [written by poet and former president of Korea National University of Arts Ji Woo HWANG, and directed by Youn Taek LEE, the art director of Street Theatre Troupe] which depicts a democratic movement known as the 5/18 Gwangju Movement. Since then, I built up diverse experiences, working for, Seoul Theater Festival [directed by Kwang Lim KIM, theater director and professor], Uijeongbu Int’l Music Theater Festival and Seoul Marginal Theatre Festival. Then, I finally settled at Dongsoong Art Center. It was the only privately run theater at that time. I worked 7 years on planning and promotion.
In the middle of your active career, you suddenly left for furthering education. Why?
While working, one question haunted me: As organizer majored in theatre, how could I balance artistic and esthetic aspects with commercial and business considerations? An artwork constitutes an occupation for an artist. Thus, it is necessary to produce profits. But artists balked at discussing numbers and budgets.

One day, an opportunity came to me. Selected as promising new artist by the Korean Culture & Arts Foundation [now, Art Council Korea], I started studying at New National Theatre, Tokyo under its sponsorship. Participating in Across the River in May [co-written by a Korean and a Japanese writer and co-directed by a Korean and a Japanese director], I discovered a perfect producing system under which a non-profit organization plans a theatrical performance in detail and thoroughly. It was also under the leadership of a director assisted by experienced co-producers. It resulted in a huge box-office hit. Tickets were all sold out. The experience brought home to me the need for more study.

Finally, I started studying cultural and creative industries at King’s College London. In the process, I realized, “There is no silver bullet. Things are not summed up in a single answer.” The Great Britain had pioneered the efforts to find out appropriate cultural policies. Still, the country rendered distinct conclusions for different conditions. In other words, the British policies were different for different areas like troupes, big corporations, and non-profit organizations. Thus, “I don’t have to be concerned. No single solution can be applied across the board.” That realization relieved me a lot.
Upon return to Korea, you opted for a position with a big corporation, rather than working for a non-profit organization on Daehangno(where more 120 small theaters exist). Why was that?
To me, CJ Entertainment [currently, CJ E&M] was the only entity approaching culture and performance from the industrial viewpoint.

CJ has been making efforts to create and expand the cultural market for its industrialization. More specifically, it has been pursuing various global projects, and actively staging diverse activities in China and Southeast Asian countries. It pursuance fits my belief and values, and I am making my best within the organization.

I know some express concerns over our initiatives to host Broadway dramas and musicals under license agreement. But, the core of the cultural industry lies in “high risk, and high return.” Considering the current market conditions in Korea, that is impossible for now. To survive in the market and to try a new one, it has to consider commercial success. Actually, introduction of licensed musicals has contributed to attracting more Koreans. In my opinion, CJ-initiated artworks are not inferior to what we call Daehangno or independent art pieces; rather, CJ pieces are pursuing and have worked out “different” artful achievement.
What does CJ Performing Arts Production Team mainly do?
We engage in licensed reproduction of famous British, American and European artworks. Moreover, we co-produce with other Asian companies, and encourage development of creative Korean works

CJ has produced creative musicals such as Die Leiden des jungen Werthers, Looking for Jong Wook KIM, Oh! While you were sleeping and introduced licensed musicals like Broadway and 42nd Street and High-school Musical. As to theatrical pieces, CJ produced True West, Kisaragi Miki, Just Love Us and Six Dance Lesson. Furthermore, to make known Korean food around the world, CJ created a non-verbal performance Bibop after the famous Korean mixed rice dish “Bibimbop.” Later, the show was presented at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe under the name Chef.

CJ E&M _ Looking for Jong Wook KIM, Oh! While you were sleeping, Chef
Please tell me more about your exchange programs with other Asian countries?
Founding a new corporation in a joint venture with Shanghai Media Group and China Performing Arts Agency, we distributed Mamma Mia in China. In addition, we jointly created ZEN. ZEN is a new genre of circus performance where Korean artists and Chinese circus performers work together. We also hosted the Korean tour of Chinese women’s group 12 Girls Band. The group performs traditional Chinese music in a fusion format.

Now, CJ is developing a creative musical piece with Japan.
What role do you believe big corporations like CJ should take in Korean performing arts scene?
Supporting artists is the role to be carried out by public agencies and corporate foundations dedicated to the cause. My company “CJ E&M” exists to make profits.

For now, what CJ and I can do is to build up a reliable loyalty system. For example, the writers of Looking for Jong Wook KIM receive reasonable loyalty fees. That way, the artists do not have to work on petty works to make ends meet. We try to provide this system for them to concentrate on arts. We believe the system is to reward artists for furthering their arts. That is what is in need most.
What type of producer do you wish to become?
I can’t think of any successful precedent as my role model. In the meanwhile, my search is still ongoing. As CJ employee, I wish to discover and develop more works that fit into the system I just described. Once the system is in place, I wish to expand it to the director level. In charge of a department of a company, I am working hard to provide a creation-friendlier environment for my staff within the given organization frame.
[weekly@예술경영] 국문 박민선 인터뷰 보기

Jooyoung KOH _ Korea Arts Management Service

Jooyoung KOH _ Manager, International Development Dept. / Knowledge & Information

Korea Arts Management Service

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