Kim Young-san, deputy minister for culture and arts policy, speaks to reporters in a Seoul restaurant on Thursday, March 9.

South Korea Culture Ministry Pushes for Legislation to Protect Artists from Discrimination

After the administration of impeached president Park Geun-hye of South Korea came under fire for blacklisting artists over their political beliefs, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has pledged to call for new legislation that would protect artists from discrimination and political oppression, Yoon Min-sik of the Korea Herald reports.

The push for the new legislation follows the arrest and resignation of former culture minister Cho Yoon-sun, who was formally charged with abuse of power and coercion last month.

The ministry is currently discussing whether to create an independent rights committee that will monitor violations of artists’ rights. The commission would be granted the power to request legal action against perpetrators.

In addition, Kim Young-san, the deputy minister for culture and arts policy, said that the government is working to guarantee the autonomy of the Arts Council Korea and Korean Film Council, which subsidize artists, by transferring the authority to appoint heads of the organizations from the culture ministry to the arts community. The new laws will also seek to protect government workers from retribution if they refuse to follow an unjust order from a superior.

Critics of the new plan are questioning how effectively the government will be able to prevent interference in state-run programming. Culture ministry officials stated that they have only announced guidelines for the new legislation and that discussions are ongoing. Since the exposure of the blacklist, the ministry has actively tried to support several projects that were determined to have been shut down as result of discrimination.