Thursday, February 28, 2013

Status report: Ministry of Future Planning and Science, 미래창조과학부

President Park Geun-hye has taken up residence in the Blue House, but will be unable to effectively govern until her reorganization plan is approved, perhaps with modifications, by the National Assembly.    At the center of disagreements in the Assembly is the flagship ministry for her new government, the proposed "Ministry of Future Planning and Science" (미래창조과학부).  This post is a status report on the key issues, based on my reading of the Korean and English press reports over the past few days.
First, as noted by many reports, including one in (in Korean) a citizen's journalism outlet, the question of the English name for the new ministry has itself become a matter of some controversy and a great deal of speculation in the press.  As I noted in an earlier post, the official English designation for the new ministry has not officially been announced.  However, many press accounts have quickly adopted "Ministry of Future, Planning and Science" after noting that this was the English translation used in the official printed program for President Park's inauguration on Monday of this week.   The press have used this translation despite denials by representatives of President Park that this is the official English designation.
Second, the proposal to give the new ministry oversight over the broadcasting industry, while supported by the ruling party, is being opposed by the opposition party.  The general claim by the opposition is that such a move would undermine the integrity and fairness of the broadcasters.  As I noted in a post earlier this month, this disagreement shows how politically contentious broadcasting remains even in this era of powerful new digital networks and social media.
A third, related point is that the Park Geun-hye government has clearly identified convergence as a central policy priority.  As reported in the Korea Joongang Daily, President Park made the following comment at her first presidential secretariat meeting yesterday.“I have put convergence as the key task to revive our economy. Because the Ministry of Future Planning and Science is not approved yet, I earnestly hope the National Assembly will pass the plan as soon as possible.”
In conclusion, I would simply observe that the complexity and multi-layered, multifaceted nature of convergence itself appears to be one of the reasons that President Park has proposed such a broad, sweeping name for the new ministry, encompassing the concepts of "Future," "Creation" and "Science."  In other words, the difficulty in arriving at a final, official English designation for the Ministry is not only or simply a matter of translation, but also reflects the real underlying complexities of technological, industry and media convergence.  In today's world, science and technology cannot be separated from ICT, at least when it comes to the formulation and implementation of national policy.

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