My First Visit to Daegu

Recently I had the opportunity to visit the city of Daegu for the first time.  My first stop was a meeting with North Korean defectors.  There was so much to discuss – we talked for two hours!  I was really impressed by their enthusiasm, hard work, and dedication.  The city of Daegu, a local NGO, and the U.S. Embassy are all partnering to facilitate a smooth entry into South Korean society for these recent arrivals.  It was quite heartening to listen to their stories.  We discussed a range of important topics and engaged in a very good dialogue to enhance mutual understanding.  I found that we all share the same desire for a unified Korea under a democratically elected government, with a free market economy that protects the universal human rights of its people. 

After the productive meeting with the NGO working with North Korean defectors, I went to the Daegu Chimaek Festival.  There was an interesting article written last year about the history of chimaek in Korea.  Did you know that there are 31,000 deep-fried chicken restaurants across the nation?  Read more here:

Daegu Mayor Kwon Young-jin was a gracious and generous host.  As you can see by these front pages of local papers, he made sure I ate plenty of delicious chicken!  I visited five chicken stations including Daegu’s original Tang Tang Chicken, but my favorite was the simple, deep-fried chicken.  And the Cass and Budweiser beer were the perfect complement to the meal!  

I was highlighted in Daegu’s local newspapers enjoying chimaek!

The weather at the event was quite hot, but I was comfortable since my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio also has very warm summers.  It was good to see so many Koreans enjoying themselves.  And there were a couple of K-Pop stars in attendance too, including actor Lee Min-ho!  The weather, the food, and the fun all reminded me of local festivals growing up in Cincinnati – it brought back very fond memories.

After the festival, I watched the Samsung Lions vs. Kia Tigers baseball game.  It was a good game and the Lions won.  At the game, I drank a bit more beer and ate more delicious chicken that I brought with me from the festival.  I met the President of the Samsung Lions, Kim In as well as a number of local fans who were there to enthusiastically support the Lions – they were all very hospitable.  I also learned some fun cheers like 최강삼성 (Mighty Samsung)!  Highlights included seeing Lee Seung-yuop, who is famous for hitting more than 400 home runs, and receiving two baseball jerseys.  I was able to give President Kim a Cincinnati Reds (my favorite team) baseball cap signed by two of my favorite players, Barry Larkin and Ken Griffey, Jr. – who both grew up in Cincinnati and later played for the Reds!

Thank you for the jerseys, President Kim!

The following day I got up early and jogged around the city of Daegu, a great way to get to see more of the city.  It was very warm but it was a great way to start the day and see what people in Daegu are doing first thing in the morning on a summer day. 

I then went to TaeguTec, the oldest tungsten factory in the world.  The company is actually owned by American Warren Buffett.  The company is innovative and creative, and I’m sure this is why “The Wizard of Omaha” himself decided to purchase the company and has visited Korea a couple times, most recently in 2011.  Buffet is an investor with an amazing business sense, and it’s no surprise that his companies do very well.  I was proud to be the first U.S. Ambassador to visit the TaeguTec facility and receive such a great tour.  I told my old boss, former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, about the tour – both Secretary Hagel and Mr. Buffett have strong ties to the state of Nebraska and they are good friends.  

Taking a tour at TaeguTec

My next stop was Kyungpook National University (KNU) where I met their American football team, the Orange Fighters.  Since I played football in high school, I can tell you that these men would have been tough competitors!  They were strong, tough players, and I was very impressed with their skills.  They were practicing hard and looked very sharp in their football skills.  I am told that they have a 40 game winning streak – that is really an accomplishment.  Good luck with the upcoming season! 

Big cheers to the energetic Orange Fighters!

I then had a roundtable discussion with the KNU students.  Once again, I was very impressed by the great questions the students asked and I learned a lot from their insights.  The school is quite international, and I met a couple of Americans from the state of Iowa.  I even received a letter from Senator Grassley about the students, so it was great to meet them in person.  I hope the school also sends more Korean students to the U.S. so we can engage in more people-to-people ties.

With KNU students

All in all, it was a very fruitful and packed two-day trip. Whenever I have chimaek from now on, it will remind me of the fun and exciting time in Daegu!


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  2. Dear Ambassador Lippert,

    Hello, my name is Steven. This is my first time visiting your blog and I love it! I've read two blog posts and watched the introduction video so far and I'm already enjoying it and excited to see more. It is wonderful to have a passionate and friendly ambassador like you and I hope that you and your family fulfill all the goals in Korea.

    It is great to read and learn more interesting facts about Korea such as 31,000 chicken restaurants and TaeguTec. I'm really happy that you were the first U.S. Ambassador to visit the TaeguTec facility and receive an amazing tour. What an honor!

    Thank you Ambassador Lippert for everything and please keep the updates coming!

  3. It was good to see hometown again on new perspective!


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