‘Opinion collection’ crucial to prevent future blacklist

By Yun Suh-young

Artists who were victimized by the “blacklist” that the Park Geun-hye administration had apparently created to filter out artists who seemed “leftists” or spoke against the government welcomed the Constitutional Court’s decision to remove Park from office, Friday.

Thespians who were disadvantaged by the blacklist on artists announced their position in front of the “Black Tent” in Gwanghwamun that they had established in January to hold performances in protest of the blacklist scandal until President Park was ousted.

“Truth wins out in the long run. This impeachment is a natural outcome,” said Song Hyeong-jong, president of the Seoul Theater Association.

“It’s time to build a new era. Officials in the culture ministry who are responsible for this scandal should resign,” he said on his social network account.

Director Lee Hae-sung, who was in charge of the “Black Tent” set up in Gwanghwamun Plaza, said, “So many people went through difficulty and sacrifice to achieve something that was a matter of course. We will constructively develop onwards from this Black Tent. This is just the beginning.”

The temporarily established tent will be dismantled as the President is formally ousted.

“We made our final performance yesterday. We will share the meaning, feedback and achievement of our public performances here during a discussion session on March 16,” Lee said.

Theater director Lim In-ja, a member of the steering committee for the Black Tent, said, “I hope whoever becomes the next president will respect the freedom of speech and expression of artists which is the equivalent to life to them.”

A day before the impeachment judgment was made by the Court, the culture ministry announced measures to prevent the recurrence of a blacklist of artists being created and to protect artistic freedom. It enacted a bill to “guarantee the rights and interests of artists” who were unfairly disadvantaged by the Park administration. The ministry also announced an 8.5 billion won budget to support artists and to appoint leaders of cultural centers based on a mutual vote. Moreover, it suggested dispersing power among the affiliate organizations such as the Korean Film Council or the Korea Creative Content Agency to prevent decision making power being focused on the central government.

However, there was feedback that these measures didn’t holistically reflect the needs and demands of the artists and the cultural community in general. Many suggested that there needs to be a process of collecting opinions from different cultural sectors and subsequent research is needed to resolve problems and suggest solutions for the future.

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