Forum – December 15, 2017

Paul Swann

Professionalism and Precarity: Education for the Korean Culture Industries

In the last twenty years Korea has built a dynamic creative economy with a global reach. In a single generation, a vibrant community of artists, performers and media makers, backed by a supportive government, have taken Korean culture from the regional to the international level.

But what about those who actually work in the creative economy, who look to it as a source of both fulfillment and employment? Contemporary definitions of work and reward have evolved away from the promise of life time, full time employment, nowhere moreso than in the creative sector.

This paper examines the education and strategies of those who make a living in the Korean cultural industries. How does one pursue a career grounded in project-based and freelance work, not fulltime employment?

Artists and media workers everywhere are lionized as role models for the entrepreneurial, self-actualized freelance professional. Yet, their own education and backgrounds typically provided little preparation for this life. The Korean government and some schools here now acknowledge the need for professional development preparation for creatives.

This paper discusses professional development initiatives and prospects for Korea’s young creatives in an era of growing precarity.