Changes of production space: The role of policy in path-creation and path-dependence in the animation industry of Seoul, South Korea

Authors: Hyejin Yoon*, Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Topics: Economic Geography, Asia, Urban Geography
Keywords: Animation industry, South Korea, policy, upgrade, path-dependence, path-creation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Marriott Ballroom Salon 1, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Due to a labor-intensive production system and unionization of workers in the United States, animation production has been outsourced and globalized to reduce production costs. In this regard, the animation industry of South Korea between the 1980s and 1990s created many jobs through subcontracting from animation studios in developed countries. More recently, the South Korean government has noticed the benefits that cultural industries including animation have generated for the local economy. Therefore, state and local governments have adopted various policies, such as operating incubator facilities and providing grant funds to promote production of domestic animated films. In addition, young animators who are trained at universities have diversified and upgraded the South Korean animation industry within the global value chain. This study examines how these new changes in Korean animation production have modified the production space of Seoul’s metropolitan area, the capital city of South Korea. By analyzing locations of 160 animation studios in the Seoul area and carrying out twenty in-depth interviews with policymakers and companies, three different sectors are defined in Seoul: high path-dependent subcontracting specialized companies, animation and its related industries such as media and broadcasting companies, and path-created policy-driven incubator facilities. This study explains how path-creation and path-dependence have changed and evolved for many years in the space of production, and how such changes are related to the previous industrial space.

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