Friday, September 30, 2011

Globalization in Culture: the Screen Quotas System in Korea

In traditional approach, globalization seems like to be criticized as to be “Americanization” the rest of the world. Like many postmodernist theorists argued, however, globalization is more than the ‘homogenization’. It is more likely to be adapted to the local culture and being “hybrided”. For example, as we see the case of “Sony” company through the reading of Sinclair this week, this Japanese company acquired the American companies and even it brings together the “software: media field” and “hardware: industrial manufacturing” together. There is other example of “hybrided” globalization in the movie industry. It is more than “Americanized”.
The movie industry of Korea can be another example of the globalization that is more than homogenization to the Western culture.

Screen Quotas System in Korea.
In January, 2006 the Korean government decided to reduce the Korean screen quota from 146 days to 73 days. This is one of the trials of Korean government to conclude the FTA agreement with the US government. This decision, however, brought huge protests from the Korean movie industry including directors, actors, actresses and other relevant field workers. People who against this decreased quota argued that the Hollywood movies which are mostly believed to guarantee a box office hit will eat away not only the current Korean movie industries but also the potentials of Korean movie market in the future.

It was believed somehow that the screen quotas protect the cultural diversities under the convention of UNESCO, Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. However, it is not that figured how exactly this convention would be applied in the multilateral trade agreements, for instance, WTO agreements.

Korean movie industry has been dramatically developed. Until 1990s, the Korean movie seemed like it has not that bright future. People unintentionally (I believe) ignore the potentials of Korean movies. Because comparing to the Hollywood movies, it was not that interesting and people think it is waste of money for seeing the Korean movies in the movie theatre. However, the Korean movie industries and technology has been developed adopting the partial of Hollywood technology and succeeded to catch up the Hollywood movies from 2000. In year of 2003, two Korean movies even win the popularity of Hollywood blockbuster, the Road of the Ring. And this Korean movies’ success brought the Korean Screen Quotas system to be decreased (with the pressure of America).

Now, Korean movies are pointing to the world market and it is quite successful in the South East market with the Hallyu boom. This is interesting because Korea is turning to the world market under the concept of globalization. We are not only accepting the other culture into our country but also export our culture to others. However, in order to develop our own culture the protective system, like Screen Quotas system is inevitable.

On the other hand, it is interesting to think how other developing countries would develop their cultural industries against to multiple incoming foreign cultures including Hollywood movies and Korean movies under the globalization. I personally hope that in cultural context, globalization is not being the tool every culture to be ‘homogenized’ but to be ‘heterogenized’ with more diversity. Like America’s multi-cultural term has been changed from melting pot to salad bowl.

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