Another Great Week: USFK, Creative Korea and the L.A. Mayor’s Visit to Seoul

Just in time for the season of being thankful, on November 25 U.S. Forces Korea held a wonderful ceremony to welcome me as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea.  The event included an impressive honor guard ceremony.  I am thankful for our troops and the service they provide to the United States and also for the close and deep partnership we have with the ROK military.  Both General Scaparrotti and General Park Sun-woo are outstanding, seasoned leaders.  
With General Scaparrotti and General Park Sun-woo

I have been fortunate to work with General Scaparrotti previously at the Pentagon when he was the Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and I was the Assistant Secretary for Asia.  Simply put: we are very fortunate to have such a seasoned, intelligent, and strategic individual in this position at this critical time.  Having spoken extensively with General Scaparrotti, I know he is extremely proud of the work being done by U.S. and ROK personnel to ensure peace and security throughout the peninsula, and I echo the sentiment.  On a personal note, General Scaparrotti is from my home state of Ohio and we know each other’s high schools and teams, even though we went to school in different parts of the state.  He is also a big hockey fan like my wife. (Robyn supports the Washington Capitals and the Boston Bruins!)

I have also had an opportunity to work previously with General Park, the Deputy Commander of Combined Forces Command.  I have deep respect for General Park, especially his vast experience, operational leadership and strategic thinking.  Not only is General Park an expert in joint operations, but he led the establishment of the U.S.-ROK Strategic Planning Directive (SPD).  I look forward to the continued productive partnership between the U.S. and ROK forces during my time here on the Peninsula.

After the ceremony, I enjoyed a great working lunch with both U.S. and ROK Flag Officers where we discussed a number of important security and military issues that the alliance is managing at this important time. 

A group photo with the USFK leaders

Last Thursday I also attended the Creative Korea 2014 Conference.  President Park Geun-hye gave a speech about the Korean government’s recent policy initiatives and partnerships.  She also discussed the Korean economic drivers to stimulate growth.  There were senior representatives from a wide variety of ministries (many Ministers themselves!) including the Blue House, Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE), among others.  There were very interesting exhibitions including innovative technologies dealing with child care, baseball caps made out of Korean traditional masks, and ideas on how to improve efficiency in farming.  There was even a medical exoskeleton to help people walk. The exhibits reminded me of how many exciting opportunities there are for U.S. businesses to partner and work together with Korean companies.

Attending the Creative Korea 2014 Conference with Robyn

Last week, my friend Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti visited Seoul with several LA Council Members and a trade delegation.  The Mayor and I have many mutual friends and it was great to catch up.  Mayor Garcetti was here to promote economic and people-to-people ties between Los Angeles and Seoul.  South Korea is one of LA’s top three trading partners and a major source of investment and tourism for the city.  The Mayor’s father also joined for part of the trip. Mr. Gil Garcetti is the Cultural Ambassador for the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education.

With my friend Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

It was a busy and productive week of varied meetings and events and I look forward to what the next weeks hold.

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