This paper reflects on how cultural policies in South Korea, Japan and China respond to the Covid-19 crisis. It conceptualises the current period as a historically significant moment by exploring the notion of ‘critical juncture’. Then, it presents an empirical analysis of what has actually happened in cultural policies in the three countries by investigating key events, debates, actors and decisions made in 2020. In Korea, the pandemic functions as a force of ‘policy acceleration’ by legitimising and furthering the existing development in cultural policy. In Japan, it triggered ‘policy movement’, where artists emerged as institutional entrepreneurs who fundamentally contest Japan’s non-interventionist cultural policy and ask for policy reform. In China, cultural policy is ‘locked-in’ as the party-state appropriated the crisis in its ideological terms. Despite the lack of visible transformative changes (yet), the consequences of the pandemic are critical enough to determine the future direction of cultural policy.