By Lee Haye-ah
WASHINGTON, April 25 (Yonhap) — South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden paid a visit to the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington on Tuesday as part of events to mark the 70th anniversary of the bilateral alliance.
Yoon and Biden each laid a wreath and silently bowed their heads as they paid tribute to the Korean and American service members killed in the 1950-53 conflict. First ladies Kim Keon Hee and Jill Biden stood closely behind them.
The two pairs later stopped in front of the Wall of Remembrance, which was added to the memorial last year. The wall displays the names of more than 43,000 Korean and American troops killed during the war.
It was the first time Yoon and Biden met after the South Korean president arrived in Washington the previous day for a six-day state visit. On Wednesday, they are scheduled to hold a summit and attend a state dinner at the White House.
Before heading to the memorial, Biden and first lady Jill gave Yoon and Kim a tour of the White House, according to presidential spokesperson Lee Do-woon.
In the Blue Room, Yoon and Kim signed a guestbook and a photo book commemorating the 70th anniversary of the bilateral alliance. Together with the Bidens, they also stood on a balcony to take in the view of Washington and its surroundings.
Lee said the two pairs talked about various topics in a friendly atmosphere, ranging from their mutual interests to the two countries’ people-to-people and cultural exchanges and administrative philosophies.
Biden welcomed Yoon, saying he was pleased to invite a state guest to a special place and to get to know each other better in a happy and comfortable atmosphere, according to Lee.
In return, Yoon thanked Biden for the welcome and said he feels a special closeness to the Bidens after learning they have many things in common, including the fact that both couples live with pet dogs and cats.
Yoon also expressed his wish to invite the Bidens to the presidential residence in Seoul when they visit South Korea at a later date, according to Lee.
The Bidens gave Yoon and Kim a small table, a vase and a sapphire necklace as gifts. For Yoon, a known baseball fan, Biden also prepared a vintage collection consisting of a baseball bat, glove and ball formerly used by a professional baseball player.
Biden recalled that during his time as a senator, he hit a baseball thrown by a Republican senator so far that his grandchildren later told him they thought of him as a great grandfather even though they had no idea what he did as a politician, Lee said.
Yoon and Kim’s gifts for the Bidens consisted of a traditional Korean jar, a traditional headpiece and a silver kettle.