South Korea: Arts Council accused of political censorship

22 September 2015

Through Arts Council Korea, the Korean government allegedly attempts to censor cultural contents. Artists and their projects have been banned from government financial support for political reasons, reported Korea Herald on 22 September 2015.

Yeo Jun-suk wrote for Korea Herald that lawmakers from the main opposition party have upped their pressure on the government to stop its censorship attempts.

“The Park Geun-hye administration has tightened its grip on the arts and culture. I warn against its attempt to return to the era where democratic values were banned and denied. We will do whatever it takes to uphold the right to freedom of speech and improve the culture industry,” Rep. Lee Jong-kul, floor leader of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), was quoted as saying by Korea Herald.

A parliamentary inspection into government agencies had revealed that Arts Council Korea manipulated the funding list to exclude those critical of the government, such as directors Lee Yun-taek and Park Geun-hyeong.

Yeo Jun-suk reported:

“As the scandal over censorship escalates, artists have held press conferences to denounce what they called “politically motivated” interference in cultural affairs and called for the government to stop censoring art products.

“Freedom of speech is one of the greatest achievements from the past democratic movement. We have fought against the dictatorship really hard to achieve these goals. We believe censorship is the government’s attempt to control the public and undermine democratic values,” an association of advocacy groups for artists said in a press conference.

But Arts Council Korea denied the allegation, saying that the agency had never considered political factors in determining the list for funding. In a statement, the agency said that they had simply laid out individual views about Park’s plays and that Lee’s work was excluded from the list as he had frequently received financial support from the agency before.”

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» Korea Herald – 22 September 2015:
NPAD attacks arts ‘censorship’

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