For the first ladies, puttin’ on the ritz

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For the first ladies, puttin’ on the ritz

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First lady Kim Yoon-ok, center, greets first ladies at the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art in Hannam-dong. First row from left: Canadian first lady Laureen Harper, Turkish first lady Emine Erdogan, Mexican first lady Margarita Zavala Gomez del Campo, Korean first lady Kim Yoon-ok, Gloria Bongi Ngema, the fiancee of the South African president, Indian first lady Gursharan Kaur and Geertrui Van Rompuy, the wife of the EU president. Second row from left: Vietnamese first lady Tran Thanh Kiem, Ethiopian first lady Azeb Mesfin, Malawi first lady Calista Mutharika, Singapore first lady Ho Ching, Lulu Gurria, wife of the OECD secretary general, Yoo Soon-taek, the wife of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Hong Ra-hee, the director-general of the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art. [YONHAP]


As the G-20 leaders began their discussions to tackle sensitive global issues, starting with a working dinner last night, a busy schedule of Korean culinary experiences and cultural performances awaited their spouses.

Korea’s first lady, Kim Yoon-ok, is the host of the special events for the world leaders’ spouses. She hoped to capture the essence of Korea’s culture and beauty for last night and today’s programs, the Blue House said.

Liu Yongqing, first lady of China; Margarita Zavala Gomez del Campo, first lady of Brazil; Gloria Bongi Ngema, fiancee of the South African president; Emine Erdogan, wife of the Turkish prime minister; Gursharan Kaur, wife of the Indian prime minister; Laureen Harper, wife of the Canadian prime minister; Geertrui Van Rompuy, wife of the European Union president; Callista Mutharika, first lady of Malawi; Azeb Mesfin, wife of the Ethiopian prime minister; Ho Ching, wife of Singapore’s prime minister; and Tran Thanh Kiem, wife of the Vietnamese prime minister are the women who came to Korea. Yoo Soon-taek, wife of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and Lulu Gurria, wife of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development secretary-general, also came to Korea, accompanying their husbands.

Three female state leaders - Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard - came to Korea for the G-20 Summit, but no first gentlemen joined them. The Argentine leader’s husband died last month.

After attending the welcome reception at the National Museum of Korea with their husbands, the wives headed to Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, for a separate dinner.

According to the Blue House, Kim welcome the guests and expressed hope for a successful G-20 Summit in Seoul.

Kim, who heads the nation’s efforts to promote hansik, or Korean cuisine, to the world, gave special attention to the menu for yesterday’s dinner and today’s luncheon.

According to the Blue House, the spouses’ dinner at the Leeum will be a Western meal created using Korean ingredients, including Korean beef. The lunch menu for today will feature an array of Korean delicacies, including Neobiani, the traditional version of bulgogi (grilled beef), bean sprout soup, steamed rice and kimchi.

The Blue House said the wives toured the museum following the dinner and enjoyed the ancient cultural relics of Korea.

Hong Ra-hee, the former Leeum director, received the guests for the special event. A concert by celebrated pianist Paik Kun-woo also took place at the museum.

Today, the wives were scheduled to tour the Secret Garden in Cheongdeok Palace and attend a special fashion show of traditional Korean hanbok dresses. Another museum tour of the Korean Furniture Museum, where 2,000 traditional wooden furniture items are featured in 10 hanok houses, was also planned.

The Blue House also said the wives received souvenirs. “Hansik: Stories of Korean Food by Kim Yoon-ok,” an English-language cookbook about Kim’s experiences receiving guests at the Blue House as the first lady, was provided with Sulhwasoo cosmetics, a Korean brand, the Blue House said.


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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