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Controversy over Running Ads for Mr. Roh’s Visit to U.S.

Controversy over Running Ads for Mr. Roh’s Visit to U.S.

Posted May. 08, 2003 22:01,   


There is controversy over whether to put up ads in major U.S. newspapers like The New York Times, which will be financed by economic organizations, around the time when President Roh Moo-hyun visits the U.S.

"Running paid advertisements in time for a head of state`s visit was what authoritarian governments did in developing nations in the 1960-70s," journalism experts said, "and this might excite ridicule from American opinion leaders."

There are indications that if the government wants to run image ads to promote the nation or the leader, government agencies, such as the Korean Information Service, should use government budget, rather than passing the cost on to companies.

Kim Woo-ryong, professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, said, "National leaders should promote themselves, showing leadership thereby inducing foreign media to voluntarily cover the leaders. As the nation`s economy is suffering, it is difficult to understand that the government is placing a burden on companies."

Five major economic organizations have reportedly decided to raise a fund of 1.6 billion won for running ads in newspapers and holding seminars for investor relations when the president pays a visit to the U.S.

"When the chiefs of five major economic organizations met with the president in March, they reached a conclusion that economic circles should take the initiative in the public relations campaign for the nation. Therefore companies decided to finance the costs. The Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) will bear 40% of PR costs, while Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Korean International Association will take 20% each. The Korea Employers Federation and the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business will pay the rest," an official with the FKI said.

A journalism expert on condition of anonymity said, "European newspapers would write an article critical of this, rather than carrying the ads. Now is the time for us to promote the nation in organized and better ways."

In response, those major economic federations said, "If the president’s visit to the U.S. led to the enhancement of the nation`s image and an increase in export, economic circles should support it." "A major economic organization in Japan has a public relations center in Washington to promote its nation`s image. As Korea and the U.S. are estranged and North Korea`s nuclear program has a direct impact on the Korean economy, industries should do their level best to support the nation`s diplomacy," said a senior official with the FKI.

Yeon-Su Shin Kang-Woon Lee ysshin@donga.com kwoon90@donga.com