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Culture Ministry to relax regulations in pro-business move

March 4, 2024 - 14:53 By Park Ga-young
Yu In-chon, the minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, speaks during a meeting on easing regulations in the culture and arts, tourism and sports sectors at the Seoul branch of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art on Monday. (MCST)

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced Monday a series of tasks aimed at improving regulations, including allowing Korean nationals access to urban accommodations with live-in hosts previously reserved for foreign nationals, relaxing the fixed book price system and enhancing the administrative penalty exemption system to protect small businesses from deceptive practices by minors.

With its vision of creating "a free and creative global cultural powerhouse,” the ministry said it has set up 20 tasks in five categories after more than 150 meetings and on-site visits with people in the field.

The ministry presented five basic directions, including regulatory innovation in new industry sectors, promoting exports and investment, addressing difficulties faced by small businesses and corporations, revitalizing local culture tourism and implementing lifestyle-oriented regulatory innovation. It also announced 20 specific tasks.

As one of the core tasks, the ministry will exempt webtoons and web novels from the fixed book price system, which was launched in 2003 and revamped in 2014. The system was introduced to help local publishers survive the intense competition against large online bookstores.

The exemption for webtoons and web novels will allow for independent pricing and marketing tailored to the characteristics of web content. For this, the ministry will submit a revised bill for the Promotion of the Publishing Culture Industry to the National Assembly by June this year.

While the current tourism promotion laws only allow foreign nationals stay in "minbak" accommodations that have live-in hosts in urban residential areas, the ministry said it is committed to expanding this operation to include Korean nationals. The ministry will come up with specific plans for this change this year.

In addition, the autonomy of ratings for video game content and advertisements on streaming platforms will be significantly expanded, the ministry said.

Currently, video game content companies authorized by the culture minister to conduct autonomous ratings cannot classify games as "not suitable for youth." However, within this year, the Game Industry Act will be revised to allow the designated companies to classify games as "not suitable for youth."

The Promotion of the Motion Pictures and Video Products Act will also be amended this year to allow authorized streaming platform operators to independently review not only the main content but also trailers and advertisements without prior review by the Korea Media Rating Board.

As part of the effort to expand exports and encourage investments, measures will be pursued to allow a trial operation of up to six months to verify the gambling aspects of newly developed casino games. Currently, only 18 types of games specified in the Tourism Promotion Act are allowed and such restriction is seen as an obstacle to the verification and introduction of new games, hindering exports of casino games.

While artworks produced more than 50 years ago are generally prohibited from being exported abroad, in the future, artworks produced after 1946 will be allowed to leave the country for export or sale without separate permission by amending the Enforcement Decree of the Cultural Heritage Protection Act this year.

The difficulties faced by small business owners and corporations will also be addressed. Laws such as the Motion Pictures and Video Act, the Game Industry Act, and the Performing Arts Act will be amended to add provisions allowing exemptions from administrative penalties to prevent unjust business suspensions or registration cancellations when small business owners are deceived by minors using forged, altered, or stolen identification cards in places like PC bang, Korean internet cafes.

"The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism will boldly and swiftly revise regulations that hinder growth and leap forward, considering itself as the 'Ministry of Cultural Industry,'” Yu In-chon, the culture minister, said Monday.