Here in Seoul, we are quite familiar with hosting U.S. Secretaries of State. South Korea is one of the United States' closest allies, which means our two countries engage in a great deal of close cooperation and coordination. This year we celebrate "Sixty Years of Partnership and Shared Prosperity," as we mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, the U.S.-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty, and the launch of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, among other key events.
For this Secretary-level visit, however, there were a number of new variables. New Republic of Korea President Park Geun-hye, in office a few short months, was meeting new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is only two months into his tenure. This was also Secretary Kerry's first visit to Seoul.
Here in tech-savvy South Korea, new media is an essential aspect of how U.S. Embassy Seoul communicates, so we wanted to make sure we spotlighted the Secretary's visit in a special way. In fact, we recently collaborated with South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to hold a 60th anniversary logo contest using social media that was open to the public. We have already started using the winning design, and a number of us sported it on our lapels during the Secretary's visit!
All these "news" made this trip particularly exciting here on the ground in Seoul. The pace was crazy, given the action-packed day. Fortunately, this pace is hardly unusual for South Korea, where "ppalli-ppalli" (or "hurry, hurry!") could become the national motto. The fast-moving events did not seem to faze the influx of international media who had come to Seoul in droves.
The Secretary's visit came at a time of heightened global attention on the Korean Peninsula. His meeting with President Park, originally scheduled for 30 minutes, stretched past an hour, an example of the depth and breadth of our countries' bilateral relationship. Speaking from a press conference at the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, Secretary Kerry emphasized that the United States, South Korea, and the international community are united in our common goal of the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Secretary Kerry departed Seoul for Beijing, where he will continue to discuss a range of bilateral and multilateral issues, reaffirming the Obama Administration's commitment to further broaden and enhance U.S. economic, security, and strategic interests in the Asia-Pacific region.