Korea earmarks more for U.S. lobbying in 2016

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Korea earmarks more for U.S. lobbying in 2016

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Friday released its budget for 2016 and announced that it would increase spending on diplomacy in the United States by 66.3 percent.

According to the budget plan released Friday, the Foreign Ministry will spend 3.9 billion won ($3.3 million) on strengthening strategic cooperation with North American countries, a major rise from 2.3 billion won this year.

“We plan to reinforce networks with experts, opinion leaders and the public that are interested in South Korea,” said an official of the ministry. “We’ve thus far targeted Washington D.C., where foreign embassies are placed, but consulate generals in San Francisco and New York will begin to improve public diplomacy next year because major think tanks and opinion leaders are gathering there.”

With the U.S. presidential election next year, the ministry is planning to invest even more to monitor the campaign and to research post-election conditions of the United States.

The announcement follows recent criticism that Seoul is spending too little, compared to the lavish spending by Tokyo, on diplomatic ties with the United States, including lobbying.

Yonhap News Agency in June reported that the Japanese government was spending at least $10.7 million on public diplomacy with the United States. It said that the Center for Global Partnership, the Japan Foundation’s public diplomacy organization, was spending $7.6 million annually and Sasakawa Peace Foundation, founded by A-class war criminal Ryoichi Sasakawa, was spending $3.1 million annually. It cited diplomatic sources in Washington.

The agency pointed out that the budget for the Korea Foundation’s Washington Branch, which is in charge of Korea’s public diplomacy with the United States, was only about 1.5 billion won, about an eighth of what Japan spends.

The Foreign Ministry also planned to boost measures for the safety of Korean people living in foreign countries by setting aside a 1.3 billion won budget for chartered planes.

“We’ve felt the necessity of chartered planes when we evacuated Koreans from Libya in July 2014 and from Nepal when it was hit by a huge earthquake last April,” said a ministry official.

The ministry will spend 16.1 billion won on security for Korean embassies and consulates in foreign countries, up from 7 billion won last year.

BY KIM BONG-MOON, YOO JEE-HYE [kim.bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]
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