South Korea inks BGR to six-month strategic PR pact

Documents filed with the federal government say the "scope of services require the highest degree of confidentiality."

WASHINGTON: The South Korean Embassy has hired Washington, DC-based BGR Public Relations for strategic PR services, according to documents filed with the Justice Department.

The firm, which is registered with the Foreign Agents Registration Act under BGR Government Affairs, signed an agreement in March to "provide strategic public relations counsel for the Republic of Korea," according to documents obtained by PRWeek. The work could include media relations, as well as outreach to academia "and other individuals" in the US. The Justice Department’s FARA Registration Unit marked the files as "received" on April 17.

The documents state that the agency "fully recognizes that the subject matter regarding the scope of services require the highest degree of confidentiality." More specific details about the work were not disclosed in the document.

On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that South Korea had hired a DC-based PR firm to "promote its position on Japan’s war history ahead of a speech by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Congress." The firm, which the newspaper did not name, is working to "make sure reporters who hear Mr. Abe speak understand what he’s not saying."

Abe is scheduled to address Congress next week. While Japan officially apologized for aggression and colonialism during World War II, some are concerned Abe will try to thin down earlier mea culpas by the country for its history.  

Jeffrey Birnbaum, BGR president, would not confirm or deny that his firm is working on issues related to tensions between South Korea and Japan.

"It is our policy not to talk about clients," he said, when asked about the account and the Journal story.

The South Korean embassy will pay BGR $26,000 per month for the six-month term of the contract, though more time could be added to the pact.

Inquiries to the South Korean embassy were not returned by press time.

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