A tail that wags the dog? Cultural industry and cultural policy in Japan and South Korea

Nissim Otmazgin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


How is a policy initiated and implemented toward a newly arising industrial sector? This paper addresses that question by looking at the way the Japanese and the South Korean governments respond to the massive production and export of pop culture. The investigation focuses on the emergence of the local cultural industries, the policy issues they raise, and the domestic discourse they initiate. The central argument of this paper is that these governments no longer perceive the cultural industries in only ideological terms, but following the success of the private sector, they have recently shifted their attention to the economic benefits derived from the commodification of culture. However, their efforts to foster the pop culture sector heavily emphasize investment in infrastructure as a part of a developmental-state strategy. This attitude is too rigid to accommodate the dynamism of the cultural industries and should be supplemented with a more nuanced approach that considers the distinctive structure and the organization of the cultural industries.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)307-325
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Korean government has specifically targeted the game industry with the intention of making Korea the world’s leading country in this field. The launch of the site dubbed ‘‘Global Test-bed’’ came as the result of a 1 billion won investment project aimed at promoting Korean-made online games to gamers and internet users abroad and assisting Korean game producers to advance to international markets (South Korea’s Ministry of Information and Communication 2006). The South Korean authorities have also been investing in developing the country’s animation industry. In May 2006 the 10th Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival was held. The festival, the largest of its kind in Asia, featured more than 1,200 cartoons and animation from 53 countries. It was sponsored by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, pledging a contribution of 1 billion (US$1.07 million) a year until 2012 (The Korea Herald, May 15, 2006).


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