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[Op-Ed] Korea`s Own Heritage Foundation

Posted May. 19, 2009 08:27,   


The Heritage Foundation is an American think tank that played a leading role in “Reagan Reforms.” Among 3,000 reform measures introduced in a set of policy recommendations called “Mandate for Leadership” in 1981, more than 60 percent were adopted by the Reagan administration. The think tank prizes the free market, free trade, a strong national defense, traditional values and rule of law. The Index of Economic Freedom, which has been announced every year by the foundation and the Wall Street Journal since 1995, also has significant global influence.

Since its inception in 1973, the think tank has delved into fields including politics, economics, security, diplomacy and education. Since the late 1970s, U.S.-based conservative think tanks including the Heritage Foundation have contributed significantly to changing American society by emphasizing the importance of freedom and responsibility. The foundation challenged the social perception on liberals, who had been considered synonymous to morality and virtue, by dubbing them “limousine liberals.” The term refers to hypocritical liberals who drove luxury sedans while siding with the working poor and minorities only in words. Certain wealthy leftist or liberal groups in Korea who condemn the rich and curry favor with the public with rhetoric resemble such “limousine liberals.” By earning a significant profit from their leftist activities, many of them enjoy a high quality of life and send their children abroad to study.

The creation of Korea’s own Heritage Foundation has been proposed by integrating the Korea Economic Research Institute under the Federation of Korean Industries and the Sejong Institute (formerly the Ilhae Foundation). The former specializes in economics while the latter in diplomacy and security. The foundation that set up the two Korean think tanks was funded by conglomerates under the Chun Doo-hwan administration. It is a historical irony that a think tank established by a military government supported pro-North Korea policies under the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations.

Korean companies frequently showed cowardly behavior under left-leaning administrations over the past 10 years. Instead of actively preserving the free market system against malicious attempts, they provided secret money to leftist groups hostile to the market and entrepreneurship, only to face betrayal. It is time for Korea to have an independent think tank protecting freedom and democratic values regardless of the ideological stance of the incumbent administration. Businesses should actively participate in the establishment of Korea’s own Heritage Foundation.

Editorial Writer Kwon Sun-hwal (shkwon@donga.com)