Today’s mantra in many political and business circles is that stringent copyrights are needed for fostering cultural creativity and that piracy is the greatest obstacle toward creativity. If that were true, the success of Korean pop music or K-pop should never have occurred. This chapter seeks to explain this apparent paradox through three steps. First, today’s mantra has little basis. Most of the existing world culture has been created without copyrights, and economic analysis stresses that stringent copyrights exacerbate monopolistic behavior that suffocates cultural. Second, this chapter analyzes the competitiveness of the current K-pop scene that has little relationship with stringent copyright regulations. Third, the same approach is utilized in order to demonstrate a fascinating relationship between the competitiveness gaining process and piracy suggesting that piracy actually helped the development and competitiveness of K-pop. The main lesson of this chapter is that only “well-balanced” copyright regulations are friendly to cultural creativity.
This work was supported by Laboratory Program for Korean Studies through the Ministry of Education of Republic of Korea and Korean Studies Promotion Service of the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS-2015-LAB-2250003).