Thursday, February 25, 2021

New Report Details South Korea's Outreach to Think Tanks

A new report from the Center for International Policy's (CIP) Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative (FITI) on South Korean lobbying efforts in the US describes various outreach activities that South Korea does related to think tanks.  Here is more:

The Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI) reported 650 political activities - by far the most of any FARA registrant working for South Korean interests in 2019.  KEI describes itself as, "the premier U.S. think tank and public outreach organization solely dedicated to helping Americans understand the breadth and important of our relations with the Republic of Korea."  KEI is the only FARA registrant working for South Korea that is considered a think tank, and the organization's reported FARA activities reflect this unique status.  Unlike other firms, KEI's activities were primarily directed at other think tanks (229 activities), universities (136 activities), and other non-profits (93 activities).

KEI conducted nearly all (229) of South Korea's outreach to think tanks, contacting dozens of think tanks in D.C., with many of those interactions being with larger think tanks like the Center for Strategic and International Studies (22 contacts), the Bookings Institution (11 contacts), and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (10 contacts).

A previous FITI report, "Foreign Funding of Think Tanks in America," found that South Korea was one of the top donors to think tanks, contributing nearly $2 million from 2014-2018.  Notably, CSIS was one of the top recipients of that funding.


Among other things, the report notes that Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough LLP, which lobbies on behalf of the Korean government, attended various think tank events on behalf of Korea.