Amid a steady increase in the amount of cultural resources, market domination of corporations with large capital has become increasingly prevalent. There arises the need to support artists in their pursuit of art. Meanwhile, continuous effort should be devoted to establish more cultural facilities at the community level.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government needs to produce and accumulate comprehensive data about the cultural state and condition of Seoul
Yet the SMG is confronted with difficulty arisen from a lack of data required for developing an effective cultural policy. There is currently no system that systematically tracks and analyzes changes in the cultural state and condition of Seoul as a whole. At the moment, the nation, the SMG, autonomous district governments, and other governmental entities collect statistical or administrative data for themselves according to their own needs. This has resulted in scattered data. Until now, SMG has never undertaken a thorough study on the cultural resources of Seoul. However, such investigation is necessary if the government wishes to design and implement effective policies on behalf of its citizens who are looking for more diverse and satisfying cultural experience.
A fact-finding investigation on the city’s cultural resources is required to obtain basic data, which in turn can be utilized to assess and increase the efficacy of cultural policy
City of Seoul needs to obtain data related to the cultural state and conditions of Seoul from a fact-finding investigation on the city’s cultural resources
2. Main Findings
This paper divides Seoul’s cultural resources into historic, artistic, visual, and community-level resources. Then, it analyzes the current state and trend of each.
The amount of cultural resources has been on a rising trend since 2000. The growth has been witnessed in every area related to culture including employment in the culture contents industry. In particular, the number of art facilities like concert halls, movie theaters, and museums including ones particularly built for art exhibition has shown stark increase. As of June 2015, Seoul had total 1,959 cultural facilities, of which the overwhelming majority are performance facilities.
<Figure 2> Current Distribution Status of Cultural Resources among the Five Regions in Seoul (No. of resources & share)
SMG has made notable change in its cultural policy, preserving a wider range of historic resources such as cultural assets and harnessing them for a variety of social purposes
|Category||National treasure||Treasure||Historic site||Scenic site||National intangible cultural heritage||Important folklore cultural heritage||Total|
SMG has expanded the definition of historic and cultural resources from relics and historic sites inherited from past generations to modern and contemporary cultural assets in Seoul. Then, it has designated these new cultural resources “heritages for future generations” and been using them for the benefit of the public. For example, it has transformed a water intake station located in Guui-Dong into a cultural art space; the house where Mr.Geukyeong Yun, the renowned writer of numerous children’s songs, lived into a child education center; and the residence in which non-violent human rights activist, Mr.Seokheon Ham, lived into a place for teaching Korean history.
Public entities should keep a balanced number of cultural resources among regions amid the growing investment of the private sector
Unlike other areas in Korea, Seoul has most of its concert halls dominated by private organizations. Meanwhile, almost a half of concert halls in Seoul are concentrated in Downtown region (48.6 percent). Jongno-Gu has the greatest number of concert halls in the region: Of 504 concert halls in the city, 199 (39.5 percent) are located in Jongno-Gu. Other districts such as Mapo-Gu, Gangnam-Gu, and Seocho-Gu each has 43, 37, and 35 concert halls, respectively.
Recognizing the rapidly growing popularity of culture among citizens, many corporations are now taking part in culture business. Among 382 concert halls in possession of private entities, corporations own 55 places, increased by 129.2 percent from 2007. Along with large corporations, medium-sized companies are also showing their interests in the business. Another noteworthy trend is that an increasing number of corporations are outsourcing the work of operating and managing their concert halls. Meanwhile, a rising number of concert halls are being designed or redesigned to serve audiences with shows of particular genres such as musicals, concerts and K-pop performances.
rt museums and galleries are where people find paintings, sculptures, crafts and other sorts of visual arts. Art museums, in particular, are used as a venue to exhibit and preserve artworks. Compared to 2007, the number of art museums in the city has soared by 42.6 percent to 67. The most welcoming news would be that the number of public art museums has more than doubled from 7 to 15, of which 4 have been established in the Northeast region. It is the culmination of the government’s relentless effort to foster a culture-friendly environment for residents in this area, which has long been deemed as a region with scant cultural resources.
Downtown region has 34 art museums, meaning that 50.7 percent of art museums in Seoul are clustered there. Southeast region records the second largest number of art museums (16). Meanwhile, more than the majority of art museums are operated by private organizations (38, representing 56.7 percent).
Galleries, on the other hand, serve as the venue for the distribution and sales of artworks. Their number currently stands at 419, of which 92.8 percent are private. They are concentrated in Downtown (225, 53.7 percent) and Southeast (136, 32.5 percent) regions. In particular, they form large clusters in Jongno-Gu (46.1 percent) and Gangnam-Gu (24.6 percent).
Publishing companies and bookstores are the places where printed materials such as books and magazines are produced and sold. There are 3,513 publishers and 881 bookstores based in Seoul. Their numbers have been on the rise. In particular, the number of chain bookstores has more than doubled from 22 to 47. In increasingly fierce competition against those large chain bookstores and emerging online bookstores, small local bookstores have struggled for survival. Instead of giving up, some of them have taken various innovative approaches to remain in the market. For example, they have established co-operatives and evolved from mere bookstores into space where customers interact with each other and promote community culture. There are total 83 movie theaters in Seoul. They are being reorganized into giant multiplex cinemas under the lead of conglomerates
Movie theaters provide the public with arts that rely on moving Figures in a visual and audio medium. Seoul citizens most often go for a movie in their leisure. There are total 83 movie theaters and 500 screens in Seoul. Twenty three movie theaters have nested in the Downtown area, making the region most populated by movie theaters. However, 119 and 112 screens (which account for nearly a half of total number of screens in Seoul) are found in Southwest and Southeast regions, respectively. In particular, there is a concentration of movie theaters in Jung-Gu, Jongno-Gu and Gangnam-Gu. Dobong-Gu, which is located in Northeast region, is the only district without a movie theater. In terms of screen number, 16 movie theaters have a single screen, whereas 55 movie theaters are equipped with more than five screens. The greatest number of screens owned by a single movie theater is 21.
Among 83 movie theaters in Seoul, 61 are operated by cinema chains (73.5 percent). Cinema chains have 453 screens in total, representing 91.2 percent of total number of screens in Seoul. This clearly illustrates that the film distribution market is dominated by big companies. Compared to 2007, the number of multiplex cinemas has escalated by 74.3 percent, accompanying 90.3 percent surge in the number of screens. Medium-sized multiplex operators have exited the market, leaving only three giant cinema chains.
|Category||No. of theaters||No. of screens||No. of seats|
More and more cultural spaces are being created at the community-level for residents to have easy access to cultural programs and engage in various activities.
Public libraries are managed by both public and private organizations: They are each in charge of 131 and 4 libraries. The most notable public library would be the Seoul Metropolitan Library. The building used to be the city hall. Later in 2012, the SMG has remodeled and opened it to the public. It is recognized as a landmark of Seoul.
Recently, “Small Libraries” have been increasingly erected throughout Seoul. “Small Libraries” refer to those equipped with more than 1,000 books and at least ten seats in a space of minimum 33 square meter. They can be located in various places from a church, kindergarten, community center, village hall, apartment complex, correctional facility, probation office, military camp, company building to social and political campaign offices. Their number had jumped from 383 in 2007 to 857 as of 2015. They are found in every region of Seoul, with the largest number (277, representing 32.3 percent of the total) occupying in Southwest region. Northeast, Southeast, Northwest and Downtown regions have 254, 135, 129 and 62 Small Libraries, respectively. Among districts, Eunpyeong-Gu has most Small Libraries(73). Some Small Libraries located in an area with a modicum of cultural resources serve as the venue where people interact with one another.
There people create and participate in cultural activities for themselves. It is premature to conclude that every Small Library serves such a positive role. Still it is noteworthy that Small Libraries have potential to ignite cultural development of communities.
Community Center for Art Creation is another community cultural facility. It is built at the community level and residents take the initiative in establishing and running the center. Seoul Community Service Center provides necessary support. Unlike other cultural facilities, which are mostly for professional artists, the Community Center for Art Creation is open for the general public. The center is built nearby residential area and offer various cultural programs at an affordable price, meaning residents can participate in cultural activities without taking a long trip to see expensive performances. There are total 32 centers operating throughout Seoul.
They have their own management schemes and run different cultural programs. Yet, they all have firmly established themselves as a valuable place for residents to interact with one another in everyday life. It seems that the public will continue to demand this kind of venues.
3. Conclusions & Policy Recommendations
This report has drawn conclusions and policy recommendations as below.
With increasing influence of corporate capital in the culture and art market, there arises the need to support the growth of artists with unstable livelihood sources
Under these circumstances, the market of fine art is shrinking. In Daehangno, owners of small private theaters fear that they might have to close down their businesses one by one like unstoppable dominoes. The market for performing arts seems to keep growing at least on surface. However, it is glaring that the visual arts market is withering. This would inevitably exacerbate the conditions for artists to pursue art.
Support should be provided to those in the field of fine arts. SMG should foster an environment in which artists can continue their pursuit of art. It should secure a workplace for rising artists and work together with private organizations to explore and assist creative artists.
SMG should establish more small-sized cultural spaces in people’s daily environment, while supporting culture groups formed by citizens
In general, Seoul citizens have a greater cultural capacity and demand for more quality cultural programs. In other words, they are inclined to refuse the homogeneous collection of cultural programs that the government and other public entities offer. Given that, the public sector should let residents to manage cultural facilities and organize cultural programs on their own. And then, it should provide them with necessary support in regard to the space management of cultural facilities. At the same time, the government needs to look for culture groups formed by citizens (e.g. local culture communities, hobby clubs comprised of workers) and support their activities.