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Accumulated and Accumulable Cultures: The Case of Public and Private Initiatives toward K-Pop

Jimmyn Parc, Hwy-Chang Moon


When it comes to the promotion of culture, many tend to highlight the vital role of public initiatives. This idea is based on the common perception that culture is part of the nationstate. This belief also stems from the confusion between two types of culture. To address such misperceptions, this paper emphasizes a distinction between accumulated and accumulable cultures: The former is associated with the nation-state and local conditions. Given that it has formed over a long period of time with the accumulation of related cultural practices, the need to protect it is strong. On the other hand, accumulable culture is less associated with the nation-state and is more universalistic. As it has only formed relatively recently, it can be further improved and enhanced. Alongside this, it should be well understood that accumulated culture was also once accumulable and has survived over time. Furthermore, this paper argues that in order to promote accumulable culture, private initiatives would have a more significant impact than public efforts. For example, the role of the Korean government has usually been credited by several media outlets and scholars in explaining the emergence of K-pop; however, a rigorous analysis of K-pop clearly demonstrates that private initiatives have actually been more effective in promoting K-pop internationally. This perspective intends to provide important implications for policy makers to formulate more effective policies that would help promote their national culture as a source of soft power.


accumulated culture; accumulable culture; cultural policy; public initiatives; private initiatives; K-pop; Hallyu

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13185/KK2019.03206