Joe Biden

Remarks by the First Lady at a Media Preview for the State Dinner of the Republic of Korea

April 24, 2023

[As prepared for delivery.]

Welcome everyone! It's a pleasure to be with you to preview this state dinner.

From my mother, I learned that setting a table can be an act of love. With just fresh flowers and a set of candles, she could turn an ordinary dinner into a magical moment that stayed with us long after the dishes were cleared away. Once I had my own family, I did my best to keep that tradition alive.

From my husband, I learned that politics is personal. It's about finding the common threads of humanity that connect us, that transcend distance or difference, and building on those shared values.

We hope to bring those two ideas together as we welcome President Yoon and Mrs. Kim, honoring the 70 years of our alliance with symbols and moments of beauty that reflect both of our countries.

From the painted animals representing both countries that greet our guests, to the swirl of colors in the table décor that mirrors the South Korean flag, to the mix of symbolic flowers throughout—peonies, hibiscus, azaleas, and orchids—we hope to showcase the harmony of our cultures and our people intertwined. Guests will enjoy their meal beneath the boughs of cherry trees, a shared symbol of the renewal of spring.

And perhaps nothing better represents the harmony of our cultures than the guest chef who has designed our menu, Chef Edward Lee. His style of cuisine reflects his Korean family and the influence of his New York upbringing and Kentucky home. Chef Lee creates meals that are both familiar and surprising, a fusion of different worlds that finds a perfect balance. We're honored to have his incredible talent alongside our White House chefs.

Finally, the evening will conclude with something distinctly American: musicals. Broadway stars will perform renditions of iconic songs, showcasing the craft and creativity of our country.

Every detail of this dinner has been thoughtfully planned by a team of people from across our government. So I want to thank the White House residence, our social team, and the State Department staff who have been working so hard to make this visit meaningful.

When the President and I have traveled to the Republic of Korea in the past, we have been welcomed with open arms. It's my intention to bring as much warmth and joy to President Yoon and Mrs. Kim Wednesday evening. We hope to honor both the people of their home nation and the generations of Americans who share their roots.

Now I will turn it over to our Social Secretary, who has guided this process, Carlos Elizondo.

Joseph R. Biden, Remarks by the First Lady at a Media Preview for the State Dinner of the Republic of Korea Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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