The new patron state in South Korea: cultural policy, democracy and the market economy

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This article explores conceptual frameworks for understanding Korea’s contemporary cultural policy by looking into the historical transformation of the culture-state-market relations in the country. It argues that Korea has become ‘a new kind of patron state’, which emulates the existing patron states in the West firmly within the statist framework and ambitiously renders government-led growth of cultural industries (and the Korean Wave) as a new responsibility of the state. The formation of Korea’s new patron state has been driven by a ‘parallel movement’ consisting of democracy and the market economy, which has defined the political and socio-economic trajectory of Korean society itself since the 1990s. Democracy has been articulated in cultural policy as cultural freedom, cultural enjoyment and the arm’s length principle; meanwhile, the market economy of culture has been facilitated by a ‘dynamic push’ of the state. After discussing the parallel movement, the article points out the tension, ambiguity and contradiction entailed in cultural policy of the new patron state.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-62
JournalInternational journal of cultural policy
Issue number1
Early online date11 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • cultural industries
  • cultural policy
  • Korean wave
  • new patron state
  • South Korea


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