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(LEAD) Culture ministry to focus on preparations for PyeongChang Olympics in 2017

All Headlines 13:39 January 06, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details of report in last eight paras)
By Shim Sun-ah

SEOUL, Jan. 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's culture and sports ministry said Friday it will place top priority on preparing for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics with the key international sporting event just 14 months away.

The government will also support the development of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) content as a growth engine in the era of the fourth industrial revolution while enhancing the people's chances of enjoying culture, sports and tourism activities.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism reported its 2017 policy plan to Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.

Yu Dong-hun, vice culture minister, speaks during a press briefing on the ministry's 2017 work plan on Jan. 5, 2017. The ministry reported the plan to Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn the following day. (Yonhap)

Under the plan, the government will complete 12 venues for the Olympic Games and ancillary facilities to be used for opening and closing ceremonies during the quadrennial competition and an athletes' village and a media center within this year. Construction of the facilities is currently in the final stages.

The government will also inject 30 billion won (US$25 million) into a program to improve Korean national team players' abilities with a goal of finishing fourth and 10th, respectively, in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games set to be held in the alpine town of PyeongChang and its two adjacent cities from Feb. 9-25, 2018.

South Korea will make full use of the international sports event to enhance the country's status as a culturally rich country by staging various cultural performances, including opera and ballet, during the Olympic period.

To boost the festivity of the forthcoming Olympics, the government will hold numerous events to mark major occasions like G-365 and the torch relay.

Two women photograph themselves with the mascots for the 2018 Winter Olympics -- the white tiger Soohorang (L) and the Asiatic black bear Bandabi -- in the background at the arrival area of Incheon airport, west of Seoul, on Jan. 4, 2017. The 2018 Olympic Winter Games will kick off on Feb. 9, 2018, in the eastern South Korean resort town of PyeongChang. (Yonhap)

As for the cultivation of the cultural content industry, the government will start a new program worth 12.6 billion won to help companies create new content using VR and AR technologies while creating a 20 billion won fund for investment in this field.

Seoul plans to set up government-run facilities where ordinary citizens can easily get first-hand experience on VR devices and technology to increase the public awareness of the new technology.

The government, in addition, allocated a 64.2 billion won budget for 2017, up 55 percent from a year ago, to further develop the gaming industry.

In the tourism field, the government aims to increase the overall size of the local tourism market to 28 trillion won, up 12 percent from last year's 25 trillion won and attract 18 million foreign tourists, up 5 percent from last year's 17.2 million, to the country.

For this, the government will launch a campaign to encourage more Koreans to enjoy vacation at home rather than going abroad and organize a pan-governmental task force to work out measures to promote domestic tourism.

The government will exert more efforts to enhance the people's chances of enjoying culture, sports and tourism activities.

The number of regional programs for "Culture Day" will be doubled this year as public polls have shown that the campaign helped increase people's accessibility to cultural events since its launch in 2014 as part of the Park Geun-hye government's key policy to culturally enrich the country.

Under the program, the people get various benefits, including discounts for entrance fees at museums, sports games, movies, theaters and exhibitions, on the last Wednesday of every month.

Nine national museums and galleries will open their doors year-round from this year to provide locals and foreign tourists with more opportunities to visit them. The ministry ran the program on a trial basis in three museums last year.

The ministry, however, avoided using "cultural enrichment," which had been a keyword for the Park administration's cultural policy until last year, in the report, apparently to distance itself from the high-profile corruption scandal involving impeached President Park Geun-hye and her close confidante Choi Soon-sil.

Choi's aides, including a former vice culture minister and other key cultural officials, are suspected of having been deeply involved in the scandal under the government's "cultural enrichment" initiative, according to prosecutors.

The report, instead, included a rough plan to increase transparency and public confidence in the ministry's administration.

Yu Dong-hun, a vice culture minister, said during a press briefing on the ministry's 2017 policy that his ministry will come up with detailed measures to carry out the plan by next month.

sshim@yna.co.kr
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