Current Issue

Republic of Korea: K-culture and The Next Wave of Economic Growth

Jonathan WOODIER and Sungwoo PARK
IJCCI volume 5, issue 1, 2017

The wave of South Korean cultural products that has swept world has brought the country, once known as the hermit kingdom, international recognition and a fillip to its soft power. From the late 1990s, government support for Korea’s creative industries has meant that, today, from the U.S. to New Zealand and from China to Indonesia, Korean cultural products have become a celebrated success, boosting the local economy by as much as 12.6 trillion won (US$11.6 billion) in 2014. But, while some sectors continue to grow, there is an almost audible pause as the Republic of Korea considers how best to move this sector forward. International K-wave fatigue, local economic challenges, and a difficult geopolitical environment are asking some tough questions of Korea's ability to continue to delight the international consumer. The country’s new president, however, has already expressed his desire to try to breathe new life into the country's creative industries which, if successful, could help him meet his commitments to create jobs for the country's young people, boost economic growth, and jumpstart another increase in living standards. There is a new feeling of optimism in the country, and few would doubt that if it is possible, Korea is the country that could achieve it. In a 5G, digital world, creating another wave of success is likely to test the government’s ability to generate innovation and creativity, highlight the efficacy of central economic policy in dismantling cultural and geographic barriers and, if successful, set new standards for policy trends in public-private partnership. This paper offers an introduction to the very immediate challenges the new government faces, reviews the literature on the subject, and carries out a situational analysis fundamental to designing and updating national policies, strategies, and plans. This paper also proposes further research and analysis of the Moon administration’s strategy and tactics.


Keywords: Korean Wave, Hallyu, Global culture industry, Moon Jae-in administration, Fourth Industrial Revolution