Hosting Important Visitors to Korea

Over the past few weeks, we were very fortunate to welcome to Korea two visiting Congressional delegations (or CODELs) consisting of U.S. senators and representatives, as well as one Staff delegation (Staffdel) made up of chiefs of staff – the top staff members for senators.  I worked for 10 years as a Congressional staff member for a number of senators including Patrick Leahy, Tom Daschle and then-Senator Barack Obama, so I am well aware of the important role that CODELs and Staffdels play in furthering discussions on U.S. foreign policy.  CODEL/Staffdel visitors also help provide a voice from Congress to address important issues in the bilateral relationship between our two countries.

(From left) With Senators Cory Gardner, Joni Ernst and Dan Sullivan at Habib House

The first CODEL, comprised of Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), visited Seoul from May 28 to June 1.  The senators met with Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo to discuss issues related to security on the Korean peninsula and the U.S.-ROK alliance, visited the DMZ to meet with both U.S. and ROK troops, and engage on a number of other bilateral security, economic and diplomatic issues.  All three senators have extremely distinguished resumes:  Senator Sullivan and Senator Ernst both served in uniform in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Senator Gardner is the chair of the East Asia Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the principal author of the Senate version of the DPRK sanctions bill that ultimately became law.

Three senators visiting the DMZ during their visit to Seoul
(Photo: Senator Sullivan’s Twitter account @SenDanSullivan)

The second CODEL, comprised of Representative Ed Royce (R-CA), Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Representative Bill Flores (R-TX), visited Korea from June 2-5.  The House members also had impressive backgrounds:  Representative Royce has served as Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee since 2013 and drafted the North Korea sanctions resolutions in the House of Representatives.  Representative Lieu is a former active duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and currently serves as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Reserves.  Representative Flores, who had a very successful career in the private sector including serving as CFO, COO and CEO of successful energy companies, serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and previously served on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee as well.

(From left) Representatives Ted Lieu, USFK Commander General Vincent Brooks, Representatives Ed Royce and Bill Flores

They also met with ROK leaders to discuss security and refugee issues on the Korean Peninsula, as well as the importance of the U.S.-ROK alliance.  I was able to join the visiting delegation members for meetings with Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Lim Sung-nam, where the delegation discussed important issues related to security and cooperation between the U.S. and Korea.  Representative Royce highlighted how Korea is a great example of how post-war U.S. diplomacy helped bring successful economic development. 

USFK Commander General Vincent Brooks, USFK Deputy Commander Lieutenant General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, and I with Staffdel visitors in front of the Legation House

All of our visitors’ schedules were full of extremely important meetings with U.S. troops, ROK government officials, commercial leaders as well as thought and opinion leaders.  These meetings were very productive.  My sense – after talking to the ROK counterparts – is that the Koreans with whom they met also felt the meetings were extremely useful. 

The Asan Institute’s “Conversation with U.S. Senators”
(More photos here:  

On top of that, we managed to have a bit of time for some cultural exchange as well.

Overall, these CODEL/Staffdel visits were extremely substantive and helped to move the alliance forward – a big thank you to the CODELs and Staffdels!


  1. Dear Ambassador Lippert,

    Please watch the undercover videos from South Korea’s dog meat industry:

    We know how loyal and faithful our dogs across the world are; and we all ask a lot of them – they serve us in innumerable ways: farm work, war work, police and guard duties, search and rescue, help for the disabled, guiding and guardianship, and, of course, as our loving and trusting companions, such as Grigsby. Please take immediate action and help us bring attention to the horrendous torture and slaughter of dogs and cats in S. Korea and urge their government to end this brutal trade once and for all.

    An online petition calling for your support in ending the horrendous South Korean dog and cat meat cruelty is in progress:
    The favor of your reply is requested.
    Thank you

    patricia carrasco

  2. Seconding the above message. World scale consumer leverage that this matters and needs dealing with.


Powered by Blogger.