Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How the Mighty Have Fallen

According to an editorial in the Hankyoreh, when South Korean President Lee Myoung-bak visited the US last month, he "relied heavily on a U.S. speechwriting firm for the text of his major speeches and statements ... The Korean Embassy in the United States reportedly paid $46,500 (around 51 million won) to the Washington-based company West Wing Writers, primarily for draft writing and revisions on three texts: speeches to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a joint speech to Congress, and a statement at the White House."

The editorial goes on to scold Lee for not expressing his "own diplomatic philosophy and values" in his American speeches, because "the president should represent the country’s interests on major issues in bilateral relations with the country in question." Given Lee's record, one could argue that he represents American interests in Korea and so his choice of speechwriters was fully appropriate: "Recently, the Korean Embassy in the United States paid a U.S. company to lobby for a quick passage of the South Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) in Congress." But what made me giggle was the idea of South Korea outsourcing its presidential speechwriting to the US, shipping Korean jobs to American political maquiladoras. Of course Lee probably didn't save money on the deal, but it's the principle of the thing.