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Industry Report

Industry reports, briefs issued by Samsung Economic Research Institute

Korea's 'Soft' Industry Potential

Korea's 'Soft' Industry Potential

LEE Ahn-Jae

Dec. 11, 2004

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The power of information was key to economic growth in the twilight phase of the 20th century. Now it comes from creativity, especially from what generally passes under the term of "soft" industry. It refers to a variety of service-based activities related to culture and cultural sensibility such as the media and film arts, stage and performance, entertainment, games, designs - anything that can generate added-value through the artistic, creative, and entertainment industry.

It's an industry seldom requiring big, additional production cost other than initial startup capital. Having network externalities, it generates more profits as more people consume it. The soft industry has a huge ripple effect, running from theater business to DVD production to broadcasting. It generates tourism revenues as movie sets and shooting locations are marketed as tour sites. It enhances national brand power as films exported overseas get rave reviews from the international audiences.

Korea has a strong potential to succeed in the "soft" industry because of its native talents and resourcefulness. Koreans share a unique sensibility called "jeong," a peculiar interpersonal relationship based on trust and bonding. When translated into English, it can mean anything from sentimental warmth, feeling, empathy, affection, tenderness, pathos, compassion, closeness, faith and above all else, love. The powerful flood of emotion run ning through the veins of Korean people and their culture has created unique films or plays that alternately rend or move or inspire the hearts of people everywhere: the medium of Korean culture helps transform unique experiences into tourism products as well.

Korea's aesthetic values and cultural prototypes can be marketed as an important source for the "soft" industry. Designs and performing arts based on Korea's traditional culture can also be globally marketed. Color and patterns from traditional folk culture, graceful lines of its art pieces can be directly used today for a variety of "soft" industry products or as motifs for modern-day creative activities.

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