Promoting Korean culture (K-culture) through books and helping South Korea become a cultural powerhouse through publishing: The 2022-2026 Plan to Promote the Publishing Industry

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  • Registration Date 2022-09-27
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Promoting Korean culture (K-culture) through books and helping South
Korea become a cultural powerhouse through publishing The 2022-2026
Plan to Promote the Publishing Industry

  • □ Books for All: Developing greater domestic demand for books by cultivating book curators, hosting an international children’s book fair, and more.
  • □ Books Everywhere: Laying a foundation for book distribution through such means as operating small bookstores and improving regional logistics.
  • □ Books for the Future: Renovating the publishing industry by expanding intellectual property rights and strengthening related education.
  • □ Governance for Books: Improving governmental systems such as revising the Publishing Industry Promotion Act and reinforcing the capacities of related organizations.

On August 1, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism (Minister Park Bo Gyoon, MCST) announced its five-year plan (2022-2026) for promoting the publishing industry with a goal of boosting Korean culture (“K-culture”) through books and fostering a culturally attractive country with a prosperous publishing industry. The plan contains four overarching strategies with twelve related tasks designed to expand demand in the industry and renovate the industrial base.

This framework plan for the five-year period spanning 2022 through 2026 established in accordance with Article 4 of the Publishing Industry Promotion Act was drafted by reflecting on the overall changes in the publishing environment, including the declining number of readers, the expansion of the “Korean Wave” into the field of publishing, the increasing influence of online distribution channels, and the expanding diversity of and applications for published content. In order to establish this plan, the MCST gathered policy ideas through consultation meetings with experts and online public hearings. Local governments were then contacted regarding their opinions. The MCST also held meetings with leaders in the publishing industry, local bookstore owners, and other stakeholders in order to gather feedback from the field on the plan before finalizing it.

The plan focuses on promoting the growth of the publishing industry and related markets by expanding domestic and overseas demand, fostering the capacities of regional publishing and bookstores, enhancing the value of books as a source of original content, and expanding and utilizing the intellectual property rights of books. Major projects include cultivating book curators whose roles are to select books and help plan cultural activities that meet the needs of local bookstores; hosting an international children’s book fair; introducing a picture book award; operating small bookstores in areas that otherwise would have no bookstores; expanding the Book and Culture Centers; improving regional logistics systems for books; establishing a comprehensive support center for intellectual property for books; cultivating talented individuals for the field of intellectual property and books, including web novels; and reforming related training programs.

Books for All

  • Addressing diversifying demand:Supporting the publication of diverse books, promoting book advisory, and establishing an on-demand production system
  • Expanding public demand:Supporting the publication and utilization of quality books, developing demand among future generations, and promoting local book purchasing.
  • Creating global demand:Strengthening partnerships with other content fairs, enhancing exchanges with members of the overseas publishing community, and establishing an integrated support system for book exports

The first strategy set out in the plan is known as “Books for All.” While the number of readers has declined with the country’s low birth rate and aging population, the needs of readers have become more granular and diverse. In response to these changes, the MCST plans to support an environment in which everyone can enjoy reading without discrimination and develop sources of new demand to support the sustainable growth of the publishing industry.

The MCST aims to promote book markets that can accommodate the needs of diverse readers, including senior citizens and multicultural families. It also plans to provide social reading programs, such as programs designed to help address the isolation of senior citizens and promote the translation of books for multicultural parents and children. Book curators will be cultivated to support the planning of cultural events at local bookstores and to recommend books customized to the needs of individual readers. The MCST will also provide systematic support to help the publishing industry expand into overseas markets. It will establish export strategies by country and region and promote strategic exchanges with stakeholders in the international publishing field. A special exhibition promoting exchanges in publishing will be hosted with a goal to encourage the shared growth of the local publishing industries in South Korea, China, and Japan. An international children’s book fair or a picture book award will be launched for children’s books and picture books that demonstrate export competitiveness. Domestically, the MCST will launch a consultation program serving small- to mid-sized publishers and establish a comprehensive export support system by promoting the K-Book export support platform.

[Books Everywhere]

  • Strengthening the competitiveness of local bookstores:Advancing book-experience spaces, increasing the cultural role of local bookstores, and establishing a foundation for the sustainability of local bookstores
  • Advancing the book distribution industry:Advancing book distribution data, improving book distribution and logistics systems, and addressing unreasonable trade practices
  • Promoting local publishing industries:Creating and supporting a local environment for publishing and linking it with cultural tourism across the region

The second strategy is called Books Everywhere. It is designed to make reading more accessible anywhere in the country and fuel the healthy growth of the publishing industry by advancing distribution channels that connect books and readers.

Most importantly, the MCST will work to strengthen the competitiveness of local bookstores. Local bookstores will be supported through consultations on facility improvement and cultural events so that they can go beyond selling books and become broader cultural spaces. In areas with no bookstores, pop-up bookstores will be operated on a pilot basis. The Book Culture Center (a cooperative platform for local bookstores and publishers that serves as a focal point for the production, distribution, and consumption of locally published books), was launched in Gangneung in 2019. Branches will be opened in other regions as well. In addition, improving book distribution and logistics systems will allow books to be supplied in a timelier and more efficient manner.

In order to increase transparency and efficiency in book distribution, book distribution data will be further sophisticated with a focus on the Korean Standard Publishing Distribution Data Hub System (which opened in September last year). Major stakeholders in the industry, including publishers and bookstores, will be widely consulted as part of the process in order to find ways to help them use the platform more conveniently.

[Books for the Future]

  • Enhancing digital capacity:Supporting the expansion of intellectual property for published content, enhancing support for new types of digital publishing ecosystems, and supporting skills development and training to build digital capacities
  • Establishing a system to cultivate publishing professionals:Facilitating industry-academia cooperation and building a platform that connects different training programs
  • Nurturing the ecosystem for innovative publishing companies:Expanding and institutionalizing financial resources to promote investment in the publishing industry and providing support to publishing startups

The third strategy is known as “Books for the Future: and includes the goal of bolstering the publishing industry’s capacity to respond to change and continue to attract skilled talent to the sector so as to uphold publishing as the backbone of the country’s cultural industry.

Noting that published content is increasingly being used as source material for films, cartoons, and other media products, the MCST plans to support the expanded use of intellectual property from published content. To this end, the MCST will establish a comprehensive support center under the Publication Industry Promotion Agency of Korea (KPIPA) and support partnerships with other sectors so as to help build publishers’ ability to make full use of content. Industry-academia cooperation will be actively pursued in order to attract further skilled individuals to the industry. A consortium between universities and the industry will be supported in order to provide practice-based training programs. In preparation for the expansion of the market for web novels and their possible expansion into other sectors, training programs customized to these sectors and to intellectual property rights will be provided in order to foster skilled related professionals. In light of the relative ease of starting a business in the publishing industry, the MCST will expand startup incubation centers that provide training, consultation, and facilities to startup entrepreneurs.

[Governance for Books]

  • Improving laws and institutions:Revising the Publishing Industry Promotion Act and reforming relevant institutions to promote the rights and interests of publishers
  • Strengthening policy cooperation and promotion:Boosting cooperation for mutual growth and strengthening PR efforts through integrated marketing
  • Reinforcing the capacities of the KPIPA:Enhancing policy research and compilation of statistics and strengthening the agency’s capacity to address unfair practices and mediate conflicts

The fourth strategy, Governance for Books, is designed to establish a public-private cooperation system that will foster the sustainable growth of the publishing industry through policy and institutional support. To meet this goal, the Publishing Industry Promotion Act (formerly known as the Publishing and Printing Act) will be revised. Marking its 20th anniversary in 2023, the act will be modernized to reflect the recent trends through which the meaning of publishing itself is evolving, as well as the effects caused by other emerging industries.

The MCST will continue to strengthen the capacities of the KPIPA, the only government agency dedicated to publishing policy. Taking a central role in industry-academia-research cooperation, the KPIPA will compile data on industry trends and current issues while proactively addressing unfair practices in the industry.

“As key content for all humanity, books have been around for a very long time. The MCST will implement a publishing industry promotion plan that encompasses demand, distribution, startups, and policy. It will continue to support the publishing industry as the foundation of the country’s cultural industry and as an engine driving a culturally prosperous country,” related an MCST official.