As I started writing this post, aware of the possibility of developments which could add to it, there is breaking news that North Korea released a statement that they are holding an American tourist named Miller Matthew Todd (24).
There is speculation that this was planned as he was seized two weeks ago, and they timed the release of information to coincide with Obama’s visit. It is some new low even for North Korea.
I will add more on this as things develop.

Here is a link to the comprehensive summary (Yahoo English article) of Obama’s visit and some of the scheduled events he will attend (with emphasis on his US military related visits) during his time in Korea, which is overshadowed by the Sewol disaster.:

The president will also reiterate his plea for Asian nations to avoid escalating multiple territorial disputes with China. Seoul’s key concern is over an area in the East China Sea that is effectively controlled by South Korea but falls within a controversial air defense zone China established last year.

I like how the article just raised South Korea’s territorial issue with China at the end.

So what has he done that has been reported in the Korean press so far?

1. In relation to the Sewol disaster:
* He held a 30 seconds of silence before the summit with Park. He also presented her with the Stars and Stripes which was flying at the White House on the day Sewol went down.
* He promised to present the school in Ansan where the students on the Sewol were from with a Magnolia tree from the White House. This seems like such a thoughtful gesture, that we would want to give a big gold star to the person who came up with the idea. However, it’s not the first time that Obama has played this repertoire, as I found out while looking for articles on Google.

2. Obama brought with him 9 Emperor’s seals made and used during the period of “대한제국 Korean Empire”, which were illegally taken by an American soldier during the 6.25 War. The difference between 국새 and 어보 is explained in the report, which I hadn’t been aware of.
Obama said:

this is a symbol of respect that we have for Korean culture and the country.

Kind of makes you wonder though, how much stolen stuff stashed away there must be internationally, and every time some head of state visits another nation, he could ask his secretary “How much stash have we got from country XYZ that I can take with me this time?”

3. Defence
* This is the key issue, Obama mentioned yet another possible 전작권 연기 (postponement of transfer of the Wartime Operational Control, OPCON, to Korea) which was set to be in Dec 2015.
Originally the transfer of OPCON was decided during RMH times(2007), set to be in 2012, however, LMB government had postponed it to 2015.

4. Economy
There were some discussions with regards to firming up the FTA between Korea and USA (the US has complained about Korea’s applying the 원산지 breaks on products from the US – i.e. the country of origin of the ingredients), and also Korea’s possibility of joining the TPP. Interest from the Korean side was welcomed by the US.

5. Comfort Women

Obama calls Japan’s use of Comfort Women a “terrible, egregious violations of human rights”

“Those women were violated in ways that even in the midst of war was shocking,” “They deserve to be heard, they deserve to be respected.”


This is a post in progress, I might tidy it up, and possibly add more if anything else comes up before his departure.