Recent Updates

It’s nice to be back in the Republic of Korea.  I did, however, greatly enjoy my time back in the U.S. visiting family and friends, especially as Sejun got the chance to meet his paternal grandparents for the first time.  It was a special occasion for all involved.

Sejun got to meet his paternal grandparents!

We spent some time in Vermont where we took Sejun swimming in Lake Champlain.  Robyn and I also enjoyed kayaking, waterskiing, and other summer activities.  Vermont is known for its food and local microbrews and I enjoyed both while I was there.

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who is the person who introduced Robyn and I to each other, was also visiting the Patrick and Marcelle Leahy ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center.  It’s a fantastic place for people of all ages to learn about biology, ecology and the environment.  The Senator is the senior most Senator in the United States Senate, having been elected to Congress in 1974 at the age of 34.  We had a chance to visit with him, his wife, his daughter, son-in-law (who works as a photographer in the White House!) and some of his grandchildren.  It’s was great to catch up with him and spend some time talking about Vermont, Washington, and Senator Leahy’s favorite band – the Grateful Dead.

Sejun met Senator Leahy!

Robyn and I even took the opportunity to visit the church where we were married!  All in all, we had a wonderful time back in the U.S.

Our wedding photo

With that said, it is terrific to be back in Korea.  There are so many things to do in the U.S., but equally there are many fun activities here and – of course – excellent food.

Immediately upon my return, I was busy meeting with Foreign Minister Yun about North-South tensions and the upcoming summit between President Obama and President Park.  I also met with the Opposition Leader, Representative Moon Jae-in, regarding recent events.

The United States welcomes the agreement that was reached between the two Koreas.  We support President Park’s tireless efforts to improve inter-Korean relations and promote peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.  Naturally, I will continue to coordinate closely with my Korean counterparts and work on strengthening even further the ROK-U.S. Alliance.

I was anxious to get back into the swing of things following my break, and I hit the ground running with the U.S. -ROK Alliance Solidarity party.  It was great to see everyone relaxing following the Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint military exercise.  Participants from the U.S., the Pacific theatre, the ROK all came together for the exercise, and it was a great illustration of the Alliance in action.  Particularly in light of recent events, it was impressive to see that our forces are ‘Ready to Fight Tonight.’

Thank you Scholar Ha for hosting a wonderful party! (Photo courtesy of Kumgok Academico-Cultural Foundation)

I saw friends, including Generals Scaparrotti and Champoux, and congratulated them on their efforts.  Scholar Ha Yeon-Soon hosted the party, as he has done in the past, and we have him to thank for the enjoyable evening and his continued support of both U.S. and ROK troops.

On a totally different note, I had a great time attending the 6th Culture Communication Forum (CCF) organized by the Corea Image Communication Institute (CICI).  CICI is a non-profit organization that was founded to enhance Korea’s global image, and I was asked to give some remarks during the Forum.   This is an impressive group that brings people together from different cultures and combines the interesting, historic aspects of Korean culture with its vibrant, modern culture, to showcase them effectively for a multi-ethnic audience.

At the 6th Culture Communication Forum (Photo courtesy of CICI)

At the event, Indonesian Ambassador Prasetio said it well when he commented that we are living in a world where it is getting difficult to speak from the heart and connect people.  He went on to say that CICI focuses on promoting friendship, brotherhood, and tolerance across different cultural boundaries.  I believe this is helping to foster real values in a world with difficult problems and helping diverse ethnicities to come together.  Delegates attended from China, Canada, Turkey, Japan, the U.K., France, Germany, Russia, the United States and, of course, Indonesia, with cultural performances by many of these countries.  CICI has an important and distinguished mission and they execute it supremely well.

With the weather cooling down now, I am looking forward to the beautiful fall season in Korea and to enjoying some hiking with Sejun to see the leaves changing.

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