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S. Korea: Law Declares Culture to Be Basic Right
Source: www.korea.net
Source Date: Monday, December 16, 2013
Focus: ICT for MDGs, Citizen Engagement
Country: Korea (Republic of)
Created: Dec 17, 2013

For the first time in Korea, the right to enjoy culture has been stated in a law as one of the people’s basic human rights, to which all Koreans are entitled, just as an individual has the right to receive an education and to have a job. The new law also provides legal grounds upon which the state could take action guaranteeing the people’s right to enjoy culture. Copyrighted works that are made by state organizations will now be opened for public use. The meaning of culture will also be expanded to cover all parts of an individual’s life, not limited to the arts, so that it can be linked to education, welfare, the environment and human rights. 

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said on December 10 that the National Assembly plenary session recently passed a proposal for the Basic Law on Culture (unofficial translation) and passed four revised culture-related edicts, acts that will cover the welfare of artists, performing arts, copyright and history and art museums.

Composed of 13 articles, the Basic Law on Culture stipulates not only a basic right to culture, but it also requires the government to conduct an assessment of cultural effect before it creates any new policies. It contains the concept of cultural welfare, which extends cultural benefits to the disadvantaged. The law focuses on an ordinary citizen’s basic right to enjoy culture, including the needy. It also defines the concept of culture in a broader sense which can apply to tourism, sports, leisure activities and the development of the Korean language.

The revised law on copyright allows people to freely use copyrighted works made by the central or local government. In the past, they had to ask for permission from government organizations on a case by case basis if they wished to use any central or local government-owned copyrighted works. Thanks to the revision, citizens will now be able to use any such works in a freer and more convenient manner. The revised law also allows people to display or air such works if it is for educational purposes. Such changes reflect the rapidly changing educational environment and will help improve the quality of education. 

The law on the welfare of artists was designed to strengthen the rights of artists and extend to them social welfare benefits. Under the law, the government will order agencies to address unfair practices and punish them with fines if the agencies commit unfair treatment practices, such as if they delay, refuse or limit the provision of a fair share of profits to the artist. The new law also provides state support for a certain percentage of the insurance cost if an artist individually buys industrial accident insurance.

“Unlike existing culture- and arts-related laws, which focus on supporting culture and art creators or related projects, the new Basic Law on Culture will encourage people to enjoy culture across a wider range and will narrow the culture gap. This will help increase the value of culture to society as a whole,” said the ministry.

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