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South Korea to ease ban on Japan cultural goods

Kyodo

South Korea will further relax its ban on imports of Japanese cultural products in January, allowing in Japanese CDs, game software and movies, government officials there said Tuesday.

Culture and Tourism Minister Lee Chang Dong said the latest opening of the domestic market to Japanese cultural products has been decided “on grounds that brisk cultural exchange between (South) Korea and Japan is the shortcut to increasing mutual understanding between the two countries.”

In a statement, Lee also said the successful cohosting with Japan of last year’s World Cup soccer finals has given rise to the necessity to step up cultural exchanges in various sectors.

South Korea will also allow movies restricted to viewers 18 years old and above to be shown at theaters, while it will continue consultations on whether to allow in Japanese TV dramas and animated programs, which would have a “great influence” on South Koreans, according to South Korean officials.

The Culture and Tourism Ministry completed the plan at a panel meeting on cultural exchange between Japan and South Korea that was held Monday. South Korea’s move is in line with a joint statement adopted after a summit in Tokyo between President Roh Moo Hyun and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in June.

In a major policy shift in 1998, then South Korean President Kim Dae Jung began a staged lifting of the decades-old ban on imports of Japanese cultural products.

South Korea has long banned Japanese cultural products from the domestic market due to strong anti-Japanese sentiment stemming from Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.