Creative Industries and Industrial Policy in Korea and Southeast Asia

The paper I gave at the Bangkok University conference on creative arts policy has now been published in the proceedings online:

Walsh, John, “Creative Industries and Industrial Policy in Korea and Southeast Asia,” paper presented at the Bangkok University Communication Arts (BUCA) Creative Industries in Asia: Innovating within Constraints (Bangkok: July, 2016), available at:


One of the most important means by which the Republic of Korea (ROK) was able to escape
from the Middle Income Trap was through the creation and implementation of the Hallyu,
which was a wave of inter-related forms of cultural production supported and promoted by
government. Hallyu was successful, at least in part, because of the freedom of expression
won by the Korean people in the struggle for democracy. Its various forms, including popular
music, television, dance, food, cosmetics and other consumer goods can be complementary in
nature and were supported by various incentives, subsidies and other forms of industrial
policy. Some of these policies have been recreated for application in other countries of East
and Southeast Asia, while others have yet to be evaluated or adopted. In other cases, policies
have been employed which have actively constrained creativity, sometimes for justifiable
state-level reasons and sometimes not. This paper outlines the different forms of industrial
policy that have been employed to affect creative industries, inspired by the Korean example
and using Southeast Asia as the primary area of investigation. Implications are drawn from
the analysis as to which kinds of policies are likely to be successful in which kinds of policy
regimes and political systems. Social, cultural and religious constraints to the expression of
the creative industries in the region are also discussed and possibilities of change considered.
Keywords: creative industries, hallyu, industrial policy, Korea, Southeast Asia

Special Economic Zones in CLMTV


I spent two days last week at a workshop on special economic zones in Southeast Asia for the United Nations (UNCTAD), in conjunction with ASEAN and support from a number of other partners. I was invited to speak on the topic of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in CLMTV (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam): Significance, Impact and Linkages. The audience consisted of representatives of eight Southeast Asian nations, academics and private sector representatives and we met at the Amari Watergate Hotel here in sunny Bangkok.

The issues involved are complex and opinions diverse: in India, for example, SEZs are seen as a means of land-grabbing and reviled by most people while in China they are revered as part of the means of enabling hundreds of millions of people to lift themselves from poverty while retaining monolithic political control. Here in the Mekong region, they are part of the Factory Asia paradigm of import-substituting, export-oriented intensive manufacturing based (at least initially) on low labour cost competitiveness. One question is how to involve local companies and individuals as part of the global value chains being created by firms through forward and backward linkages. The provision of infrastructure and connectivity is necessary but not sufficient in achieving this.

Attending the workshop is part of my consultancy with the UN, which now requires me to complete various reports and I will be busy with that over the next couple of weeks.

Nation-Building and the Management of Drug Eradication Schemes in Myanmar


Lomethong, Jen and John Walsh, “Nation-Building and the Management of Drug Eradication Schemes in Myanmar,” paper presented at the International Conference on Nation-Building 2017 (May 28th-30th, 2017, Bangkok).


Opium production and consumption has been known to be a problem in Myanmar since at least 1750. Production of opium was 36 tons in 1948 but that rose to 2,500 tons in 1996, owing to market conditions and the lack of alternatives to farmers searching for cash crops and for ethnic groups mounting insurgencies. Various drug eradication programmes have been tried in the country, often in conjunction with international partners but these have been of limited success because the military government was unwilling to allow access to many parts of the country to observers and, indeed, some parts of the country were not available even to the military government. In addition, local warlords had patronage networks which extended into government circles and caused divided loyalties among at least some of those people charged with eradication. This paper explores the existence and performance of drug eradication schemes in contemporary Myanmar and then argues that none is likely to be successful until steps are taken to raise confidence in peace and stability among all important stakeholders. This, in turn, can only be achieved with nation-building initiatives. It is recognised that the current political settlement is fragile and it is not impossible that democracy will be lost again. The example of the Rohingya refugees and the recent outbreaks of ethnic violence in urban Myanmar show the limits of state institutions and technical capacity in this regard.
Keywords: drug eradication, Myanmar, nation-building, state capacity

International Conference on Recent Trends in Business Management (ICRTBM, 2017)

The International Conference on Recent Trends in Business Management (ICRTBM 2017) was held at the Graduate Campus of Shinawatra International University on Sunday, April 9th, 2017. This was the first conference that we have held in conjunction with Professor Rao of CRC Ltd (

Top Left: Keynote speaker Dr. Thanan Apivantanaporn, Acting President of the Office of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Development and former PhD student at SIU. Top right: delegates in the conference room and then the obligatory group photo in the lobby area. Bottom: Profess Kashif Rao of CRC and Aj. Dr. Wilaiporn Lao-Hakosol of SIU (Photos by K Suntirach Lermanee (thanks K Bill))

The conference was quite well-attended, largely with doctoral candidates from SIU but also with some external delegates, including Dr. Hermann Gruenewald from Burapha University. Several candidates arrived from Nepal to participate in the conference, including Drona Lal Puri, Shrijan Gyanwali and Binod Kumar Bista. Some papers from the conference will appear in modified forms in CRC’s double blind peer-reviewed academic journals, International Review of Management and Development Studies and Recent Issues in Human Resource Management and in other places. We look forward to hosting further conferences with Prof. Rao in the future; my thanks to all those who helped to make this conference successful.

Daily Configurations and Reconfigurations of Space in a Bangkok Soi: The Case of Inthamara

I recently attended the 5th World International Studies Conference at the National Taiwan University on April 1st-3rd. My paper was:

Daily Configurations and Reconfigurations of Space in a Bangkok Soi: The Case of Inthamara


The rhythm of daily life in Inthamara, a soi linking the major thoroughfares of Viphawadi-Rangsit and Phaholyothin, begins with the perambulations of monks, who generate good karma (making space temporarily sacred) which is then distributed. The space returns to being social, public space which may then become commercial or private space as shophouse residents and passers-by enact their activities on the pavements. The use of space may be reconfigured many times during the day, depending on seasonal and temporal factors which may to some extent be predicted. The nature of the space at any particular time affects social relations among the residents of Inthamara, whether they are long-term or short-term in nature. It also affects their interactions with the representatives of the state: the street-sweepers increase the amount of space available for different types of use, while police and military challenge those who are using public space for their own purposes. The military coup of 2014 has been followed by attempts at gentrification by state agencies on a unilateral basis and this has acted as an additional, external force for change along Inthamara, joining the arrival of retail chains competing with old-fashioned, family-based local retailers and the construction of condominium projects to have residents attracted by the proximity to the new public transport networks. Using an ethnographic approach to research along Inthamara, this paper explores the nature of change along a Bangkok soi as the residential neighbourhood gradually accommodates the internal and external pressures that globalization and urbanization have caused. Distinctive local characteristics have been eroded but still exist.

Keywords: Bangkok, change, everyday living, space, urban living

East Asia, Economic Development and Finance Capitalism

I attended the 4th International Conference of the Nepalese Academy of Management held at the Yak and Yeti Hotel in Kathmandu, which was successfully completed. This was after I had done some teaching of MBA students at GCI the preceding week. My paper at the conference was entitled “East Asia, Economic Development and Finance Capitalism.” Here is the abstract:

The emergence of Northeast, East and Southeast Asia (which are jointly referred to as ‘East Asia’ here) has been one of the defining features of global development since the end of World War II and the period of European decolonisation in the region. This is true not just because of the size and scope of development but also in the ways in which it has been achieved: development has regularly followed government-led models of different sorts. The implications of this represent one of the principal issues this paper explores. East Asian development has directly and repeatedly contradicted the nostrums of the neoliberal consensus, in the various forms in which this has been manifested, while continuing to demonstrate the importance of the state in guiding and promoting economic development within the territories over which it has control. This does not, of course, mean that state-led development is either sufficient or necessary in itself. However, it is certainly proof that the prominence of the state and its instruments is no bar to the improvements required: as the well-known saying should have it, the government is part of the solution. That does not mean that all instances of government-led economic development have been successful, in East Asia as for anywhere else. The issues to consider, therefore, are under what conditions can government-led interventions be successful in achieving economic development, what are the forms of intervention that are successful and why and, finally, to what extent can those conditions be replicated in other countries? The answers in this case lie in the ways in which businesses can be created and expanded and where can lessons be learned for application in other countries or territories.

8th International Conference at Suan Sunanda Rajabhat University

I was invited to give the keynote address at the 8th International Conference held at Suan Sunanda Rajabhat University ( here in Bangkok on Thursday, March 16th. These are the prizewinners for papers presented at the conference – more than 300 in total.

My address was on The Fourth Industrial Revolution and seemed to be well enough received. In the afternoon, I had the opportunity to chair the international sessions and offer some comments to paper presenters, which I was happy to do.