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K-content goes global (UN trade & development-UNCTAD, 2024)

How government support and copyright policy fuelled the republic of Korea's creative economy

© Bright Music | K-pop band BTS performs on 20 September 2021 at the UN headquarters in New York.

Creative industries are among the world’s most rapidly expanding sectors, offering a viable avenue for economic development, particularly for developing countries.

Creative industries are “industrial sectors that comprise tangible products and intangible intellectual or artistic services with creative content, economic values, and market objectives.” Content-based industries, a subset of creative industries, encompass various content-producing sectors. The content-based industry comprises the cultural, innovative, artistic, publishing, music, broadcasting, and film industries.


There has been a worldwide shift from seeing the cultural sector as associated with public goods that provide primarily non-market values to seeing the creative industries as an industrial sector in their own right. This new conceptualization has also led to a shift in cultural policy: from strategies focusing on subsidizing a sector that provides public goods (intrinsic artistic excellence, social cohesion, heritage, and identity) to strategies much more related to industrial policy.


New emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and 3D printing have fundamentally changed some parts of the creative industries, generating new business models in the value chains of producing, distributing, and consuming creative goods and services. For example, using artificial intelligence technologies, online platforms provide personalized music or film content to each consumer.

Given the pace of digitalization and the evolving business landscape, new policy challenges inevitably arise for the growth of the content-based industry. These challenges include fostering digital competencies, cultivating a conducive environment for creative industries, especially given their high-risk nature, and formulating suitable institutional frameworks.

Since the 2000s, the Republic of Korea has championed the development of the content-based industry as a cornerstone for economic growth, following the national agenda to boost high-value activities and high-quality employment in the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution.


This paper delves into the Republic of Korea's content-based industry to better understand the factors influencing its success, particularly the Government’s policy to support it as a new engine of economic growth. The report provides an insider view of how the Republic of Korea has used a particular kind of cultural policy to drive the phenomenal success of the Korean Wave's creative industries, also referred to as the Hallyu effect.

It reviews debates about the purpose and roles of cultural policy in an international context and how the creative industries and the digitalization of cultural content have changed these ideas.

 

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