Geum Yi

Obama brings magnolia sapling from White House to Danwon High School

April 25, 2014
Barack Obama, Park Geun-hye

President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye pause for a moment of silence for those who died in ferry disaster before they participate in bilateral meetings at the Blue House, Friday, April 25, 2014, in Seoul, South Korea. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — U.S. President Barack Obama offered a U.S. national flag and a magnolia seedling to South Korea on Friday in a symbolic token of sympathy and condolences over the tragic sinking of the ferry Sewol, officials said.

Obama’s visit comes as South Korea is in national mourning over the April 16 disaster that left more than 300 people dead or missing, many of them high school students. What action Obama would take to express sympathy and condolences has been a focus of attention.

During his summit with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, Obama handed Park a Stars and Stripes with a written message that said: “This American flag was flew over the White House the same day that so many lost their lives aboard the ferry Sewol.”

“The flag is presented to President Park and the people of the Republic of Korea on behalf of the American people. It reflects our deep condolences, our solidarity with you at this difficult time, and our great pride in calling you an ally and friend,” the message said.

Obama also offered a magnolia sapling from the White House to Danwon High School in Ansan near Seoul, which lost hundreds of students and teachers in the sinking, with a message of “deep sympathy that the American people have for the families and loved ones of those who perished in this tragedy.”

Magnolias have decorated White House lawns since former President Andrew Jackson planted one in memory of his deceased wife in the mid-1800s, officials said.


  1. Dina

    April 28, 2014 at 8:45 PM

    Korean society needs to change in respecting law and order in practice, not just in writing.
    Korean people must be willing to go one step further for others’ rights and safety, and not just oneselves.

    This Sewol tragedy occured because of greed. Greed played a significant role when the ship was overloaded.
    Where was the regulation? On paper?

    It’s time for the Korean people to behave as though they were people of a develped society. Wishing to be a people in an advanced society isn’t enough.

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