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Furniture maker CEO plans to establish Korea’s ‘Brookings Institution’

Furniture maker CEO plans to establish Korea’s ‘Brookings Institution’

Posted March. 28, 2015 07:11,   


One third of 5,500 think tanks around the world exist in the United States, and around 500 think tanks in Washington D.C. are leading the policy discussions. A virtuous cycle has been established in which brains from such think tanks work at the government and move to policy research institutes, producing national development strategies based on their own experiences in policy-making. Although such research institutes have their own political orientation, the think tanks speak without reserve, not worrying about "conflict of interests" as they maintain independence by raising funds through donation.

The Brookings Institution, established by successful businessman Robert Brookings in 1927, is regarded as America’s most well-known social science research institute and think tank along with the Heritage Foundation. The institution has produced center-left policies that made great impact to the modern history, such as the New Deal Policy, the Marshall Plan, the U.N., and the G20 system, etc. The center-right Heritage Foundation that pursues "big market and small government" has produced many influential reports. One of the foundation’s report issued in 1981 was adopted by the Ronald Reagan administration as a governance guideline.

Cho Chang-gul, the founder and honorary chairman of Korea’s No.1 furniture maker Hanssem, announced to donate 460 billion won (approx. 415.84 million U.S. dollars) to establish Korean version of the Brookings Institution. Chairman Cho plans to donate 2.6 million company shares, half of his stakes, to the company’s non-profit Hanssem DBEW (Design Beyond East & West) Research Foundation with aims to nurture next-generation leaders and set up future strategies of Korea. In 1970 when most of Korean women bent over to cook with the traditional cooking fireplace, Chairman Cho was a revolutionary businessman who founded Hanssem that manufactures modern kitchen furniture, letting Korean housewives stretch their backs while making food.

The ruling Saenuri Party’s Yeouido Institute or the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy’s Institute for Democracy and Policies are said to be a think tank that benchmarks the Heritage Foundation or the Brookings Institution. But these research institutes tend to provide election strategies or policy advice for the party. Other domestic research institutes established by conglomerates focus on development of business strategies and understanding of the global management environment. If talented resources equipped with experiences in state affairs, expertise and knowledge gather to Hanssem’s think tank and provide revolutionary and insightful solutions to the nation’s pending issues, it will be great contribution to Korea’s development.