Cash infusion for Korean culture content


SEOUL -- South Korea's Ministry of Finance and Economy on Monday announced a $435 million, five-year plan to boost culture content industries, with a focus on exports.

The plan calls for supporting international training, providing loans to small- and medium-size companies and streamlining red tape to promote research and development.

During the past decade, Korea has experienced a boom throughout its cultural content industries -- including movies, music and online gaming -- to become a leader across much of Asia.

However, after huge growth, most of Korea's cultural exports shrunk in 2006. Movies plunged from a high of $76 million in 2005 to just $24.5 million last year. Television drama exports similarly declined from $101.6 million in 2005 to $85.9 million in 2006.

With spiraling costs putting the squeeze on original productions, many in Korea consider exports an essential part of maintaining profitability.

A major focus of the plan is digital content, including IPTV and online entertainment, with the ministry looking to step up the creation of original content for digital platforms.

Training is another part of the plan, with up to $11,000 available for companies that hire foreign experts to improve the quality of their products and $550 a month available to encourage worker training.