Today, Republic of Korea President Lee Myung-bak arrived at the White House and I had the opportunity to be there for a live Tweetup. This official State Visit highlighted our strong and important alliance with the Republic of Korea (ROK). Because the ROK is one of the most wired countries in the world, it seems fitting to follow this ceremony online. It's admittedly ironic to celebrate our two countries' bonds of friendship while looking down at the Twitter app on my phone.
Our Consular Affairs Twitter handle, @TravelGov, focuses on travel and staying connected with U.S. citizens as they head out around the world. Today's White House Tweetup was the quintessential gathering of people who work together globally -- via online platforms and social media -- to further the interests of U.S. citizens and our worldwide partners. Our work, regardless of location, happens in real time as we tweet back and forth, retweet items our followers are interested in, and generally share a platform of serving the public through technology.
A Tweetup is like a meet-up, but instead of shaking hands and sharing small talk, we communicate through hand-held devices, greet one another, and amplify our message to the world. While the Department of State and the White House generally tweet to a similar audience, today's gathering was especially focused on the promotion of travel, diplomacy and strengthening the role of our government and technology. If you missed the live event, which was moved indoors away from the rain, you are still welcome to be a part of the conversation by searching Twitter for #WHTweetup.
Similarly to the way our government engages with the American public, the Republic of Korea also uses social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, and mobile technologies for official public outreach and engagement. Of note, the United Nations ranked South Korea first in its 2010 e-government ratings.
The event today showcased a continued global partnership between the United States and South Korea. Travel between the two countries is streamlined, and most U.S. citizen tourists may enter the ROK for up to 90 days using only a passport. Since the Republic of Korea is so wired and a world leader in the race for ever faster internet connection speeds, it is an ideal place from which to tweet or blog your travel experiences. And an even better place to stay updated via our own technological outreach platforms: the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), SMART Traveler iPhone app, and of course, by following @TravelGov on Twitter.
Many have asked me, "How did you get to attend President Lee Myung-bak's arrival at the White House?" The answer is simple -- I tweeted @WhiteHouse and joined the #WHTweetup conversation. You should, too.