by contributor Brendan Kownacki
A little (or a lot) of rain was not going to stop The White House on Thursday from rolling out a red carpet with a whole host of ruffles and flourishes to celebrate the arrival of Lee Myung-bak, The President of the Republic of Korea.
Both President Obama and the First Lady were on hand for the arrival ceremony on the South Lawn along with several members of the cabinet including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Clinton stuck close by Vice President Joe Biden beneath a set of umbrellas, despite rumors circulating that Clinton could be a late-in-the-game replacement for Biden on the 2012 ticket. The Vice President didn’t look discouraged though as he gladhanded the crowd filling the lawn which included invited guests, many members of the military and bloggers tapped by the administration as the latest effort to engage online with the White House Tweetup series.
President Obama welcomed the Korean leader by noting that for the United States and Korea, “we go together.” The President referenced common views on economics, education and trade, including the recently passed free trade agreement that Congress approved for the United States and Korea. The speech was peppered with proverbs and phrases in Korean that seemed to be well received by the fluent guests present for the affair.
President Lee briefly addressed the crowd by saying that he thought the new trade agreement was a new “engine of growth” for both countries and that he looks forward to the growth of the relationship between the countries. He also noted that he considers President Obama a “close friend” and that the bond between Korea and the United States has been a long-standing one. President Lee referenced the Korean War memorial and noting he went there to pay respect to the soldiers who had lost their lives. On the memorial it reads "Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met," and President Lee said that the Korean people “have never forgotten” those efforts, and never will.
The Presidents were set to spend the remainder of the day talking business while Mrs. Obama and First Lady Kim Yoon-ok visit a local high school in Annandale, VA—which is home to one of the larger Korean-American populations in the DC area. Later in the evening, special guests will join for the fifth state dinner of Obama’s term.