S. Korean President Presents U.S. President Obama with Taekwondo 'Master' Belt

Post date: Jan 22, 2011 9:34:43 AM

SEOUL, Nov 19 (AFP) - South Korea Thursday (Nov. 19, 2009) presented U.S. President Barack Obama with a taekwondo outfit, including an honorary black belt, as a memento of his stay, officials said.

President Lee Myung-Bak personally chose the gift in recognition of Obama's past interest in the Korean martial art, a spokesman for Lee said.

"Because Obama learned taekwondo when he was senator, a taekwondo uniform, a black belt and an honorary certificate will be presented to him as presidential gifts," said spokesman Park Sun-Kyoo.

Taekwondo has different-coloured belts to indicate skill levels, ranging from white for beginners to black for masters.

Seoul officials said Obama had reached an intermediate and not a master's level after years of practice.

Even though the First Lady was not on the trip, her counterpart Kim Yoon-Ok prepared a Korean recipe book in English as a gift to be delivered to her later.

Officials said a traditional Korean meal of bulgogi (marinated barbecued beef), japchae (noodles) and other dishes, along with Californian wine, would be served at lunch for the two leaders following their summit.

Obama arrived in Seoul Wednesday on the last leg of his debut Asian tour for talks with Lee expected to focus on North Korea's nuclear programme and a stalled free trade pact.

(AFT Story on MySinchew on Nov. 19, 2009)