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Role of Culture and the Arts for the Promotion of Mutual Understanding and Development between Asia and Europe

Published on 26 Apr 2016

By Mr KIM Jongdeok, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Republic of Korea

As Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea, I am pleased to send heartfelt congratulations on the 20th Anniversary of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), a central forum for cooperation between the two regions. Cooperation requires unceasing efforts for mutual understanding, and for this reason, I am grateful to ASEM and the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) for taking the principal initiative in promoting such efforts.

Underlying the recent tragic terror attacks in Paris and all other conflicts is an absence of recognition of the necessity of working together for mutual understanding and growth. The 10th ASEM Summit in Milan in October 2014 discussed “Responsible Partnership for Growth and Security.”  It behooves us to continue to work hard to find measures to promote such a partnership to prevent any recurrence of tragic incidents.

As part of these international efforts, the Korean Government is doing what it can to the best of its ability to step up cooperation with ASEM and ASEF. The 8th ASEF Public Forum on Creative Cities in Asia and Europe was held in Korea this year, and the 7th ASEM Culture Ministers' Meeting will also take place at the Asia Culture Center (ACC) in Gwangju in 2016. The ACC, which was opened to the public in October 2015, is Asia’s largest culture and arts exchange organisation. The Center is expected to serve as a platform for interactions among Asian countries in culture and the arts and active exchanges with other parts of the world.

The Korean Government views communication anchored in a respect for the core values of culture as the essential foundation for viable cooperation and partnership activities based on mutual understanding. Accordingly, the Government is carrying out a nation branding campaign with a view to enhancing understanding of Korean core cultural values and, through this, is striving to seek new ways to promote cooperation and communication with countries around the world.

As part of its endeavours to explore core cultural values, the Korean Government is concentrating on tapping into the potential of traditional culture. Despite the acceleration of globalisation, traditional culture remains as the intrinsic element of every country’s identity. As declared by UNESCO, preservation and exchanges of traditional culture will play a pivotal role in protecting and promoting the diversity of cultural expression in the international community. For years, the Korean Wave, particularly of such pop culture as K-pop, films and dramas, has reached many parts of the world. In the wake of the spread of the Korean Wave, the Korean Government is now planning on actively implementing policies for mutual exchanges aimed at promoting Korean traditional culture around the world and introducing Asian and European cultures to Koreans.

As demonstrated by the theme of the 7th ASEM Culture Ministers' Meeting, "Culture and Creative Economy," the concept of a creative economy is being seriously considered by many countries around the world in a variety of areas beyond the economy, including the arts, culture and social affairs. In addition to the value of arts and culture as creative activities, Korea is also paying keen attention to their potential value to the economy and industries. Believing that the creative economy initiative will become a new engine for economic growth, the Korean Government is planning to make sustained investments in the cultural content industry. Among other things, the Cultural Creation Convergence Belt, which is being created to serve as a platform that helps facilitate the overall process of planning, production, distribution and enjoyment of cultural content, will play a leading role in further promoting the production of cultural content and distribution at home and abroad. It will also serve as the main pillar for cooperation in the creative economy. On top of this, the Korean Government is striving to make thorough preparations for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics so that culture, tourism, content and information and communications technology (ICT) all combine harmoniously to promote mutual understanding and meaningful interaction among participants from about 100 countries.  

Since its establishment, ASEM has discussed pending issues and risks with the international community and set directions for mutual understanding and cooperation. Now there needs to be full, continued dialogue, through which we can come up with concrete solutions for mutual progress in both Asia and Europe. We also need to contemplate the best way to achieve diverse, multilateral exchanges and cooperation beyond the two continents and establish a framework to carry them out.

As an ASEM member state, the Korean Government stands fully committed to seeking ways to promote the mutual development of Asia and Europe. It will fully support such a process with a firm belief that working together with ASEM will lead to an invaluable journey to the future.

Again, my heartfelt congratulations and gratitude on the 20th Anniversary of ASEM.


This article is part of the ASEM 20th Anniversary Book on “20 Years of Asia-Europe Relations”. The publication is a collection of articles by leaders and experts from Asia and Europe on the past, present and future of ASEM. Selected articles from this collection will be compiled and published as a book by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), which will be distributed at the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit (ASEM11) in July 2016 in Mongolia.

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