Columns for Karimov (again)

by Nathan Hamm on 8/29/2006 · 2 comments

Remember the glowing reports about Uzbekistan’s progress in The Korea Herald? One has to wonder what kind of budget the Embassy of Uzbekistan to South Korea has for purchasing positive news coverage because some more of this type of coverage just appeared, this time in The Korea Times. The “reports” are considered momentous enough that UzReport even has one of those “even the most modern countries recognize how right we are” stories up at its site.

The Times at least has the decency to note that this piece was contributed by Ambassador Fen. But articles on Uzbekistan’s judicial reforms and incredible economic policies are presented as, it would appear, straight news. So too is this dandy of a story. A taste:

Someone will scarcely deny the indisputable fact that behind any reforms there are prominent non-ordinary figures, national leaders.

They are either founders or reformers, and rare exceptions combine both qualities. Among this category of politicians, undoubtedly, bright and nonstandard, is the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov.

Uniqueness of his phenomenon probably lies in that having shown firm will and courage he has directed all his energy to a stream of extremely wide democratic transformations.

There is oh so much worthy of being excerpted from the piece, but perhaps it is best to merely paraphrase what comes at the end. Karimov is said to be “the prominent politician” of our time, a significant contributor to political science, and the source of the most innovative ideas in political theory in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

But maybe it’s not the embassy that’s paying for the columns. Daewoo International’s president also writes in the Times, congratulating Uzbekistan on the 15th anniversary of independence. It seems a bit odd for all this to be appearing right now. The earlier stories appeared during a meeting of between the presidents of the tow countries. Is Daewoo, by any chance, trying to negotiate some kind of new business deal with Uzbekistan? There are, after all, some possible opportunities that have just appeared in the mining sector.

Update — Jodi ain’t too pleased.

Update II — If you’re interested in writing to the newspaper regarding the Uzbekistan stories, you can do so here.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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jodi August 29, 2006 at 5:25 pm

O.K. I’m writing a letter to the editor about this as I have been following this as well for a while. Will send you the link once they publish it (as I’m sure they will do so).

Chris Price September 8, 2006 at 2:55 am

I work for the Korea Times and have to agree with you 100%. I was personally disgusted that we ran the pieces and refused to have anything to do with them.
Unfortunately, this practice is rampant throughout the entire Korean news media – I have worked for The Korea Herald, Chosun Ilbo and Joongang Daily prior to this current gig and all of them accept this kind of paid drivel from dictatorships to chaebol and even government agencies.
Found you through Jodie. Keep up the good fight.

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