South Korea, China and Japan agreed on an action plan Saturday aimed at expanding cultural cooperation and exchange between the three countries. The deal reached in Shanghai calls for the designation of so-called cultural cities in each of the three countries in 2014, and the hosting of joint art fairs that can attract leading traditional and modern artists. The action plan was reached at a meeting attended by South Korean Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Choe Kwang-shik, China's Culture Minister Cai Wu and Japan's Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Hirofumi Hirano. Participants said that because all three countries possess long and rich cultural heritages, such assets could be used to expand close regional bonds and awareness between people. The three countries concurred on the need to hold regular fairs, exhibitions and cultural events and work with one another to protect each other's historical heritages and help build up related industries. The neighbors, in addition, agreed to touch upon ways to enhance intellectual property rights protection in future gatherings as it is vital for expanding culture-related businesses and economic activities. Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo have held annual culture ministerial meetings since 2007 as part of their combined effort to forge closer ties. South Korea's culture minister said after the agreement was reached that while the three countries have not always seen eye-to-eye in regards to history, territory and on textbook issues, strengthening ties is a move in the right direction. He said that while North Korea was not included in the latest arrangement, it could play a role in the preservation of historical heritage. "In that respect it may be advisable to expand the cooperative arrangement to allow North Korea to join," the policymaker said. Choe, meanwhile, said that in order for the current Korean Wave or "Hallyu" to maintain its momentum, there is a need to seek diversity. Hallyu is the popularity of South Korean television shows and pop songs in neighboring countries, such as Japan, China and Taiwan. The phenomenon has spread to parts of North America and Europe. "In the past the Korean Wave is overly focused on pop culture, but this needs to be expanded to cover traditional art, fashion, culture and food," the minister said. The official lauded the popularity of Korean culture for making headways in countries such as China and Japan that had in the past generally imported cultural content from advanced industrialized economies. He stressed the role of the government in the spreading of Hallyu should be limited to supporting educational institutions, with the lead to be maintained by the private sector.