Czech painter, pianist surprise Park with gift

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Czech painter, pianist surprise Park with gift

President Park Geun-hye was presented with a surprise gift on Thursday from a Czech painter wishing for a spring thaw in relations between the two Koreas, the Blue House said.

After a meeting with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka in Prague on Thursday morning, Park received a painting by Petra Bobalova, a woman artist suffering from a developmental disorder, said Jung Youn-kuk, Park’s spokesman.

While the artist was not able to attend the meeting, a 13-year-old boy, Denis Szalbot, delivered the gift on her behalf. Szalbot, a pianist, is also suffering from a developmental disorder.

Szalbot read a message written in Korean by the painter. In the message, the painter said she decided to draw a snowy owl to symbolize Park’s leadership because the bird symbolizes wisdom, gentleness and protection.

“A wise owl knows that spring comes after winter,” she wrote. “And it knows that flowers will bloom on tree branches in the South, as well as the branches growing in the North that share the same root. I strongly wish for a flower-blooming spring on the entire Korean Peninsula.”

According to the Blue House, Szalbot studied the Korean language after he participated in the Pyeongchang Special Music and Arts Festival in 2014. He talked to Park in Korean.

After receiving the gift and message from the painter, Park expressed her appreciation. “I am extremely delighted to learn that your visit to Korea inspired you,” Park told the boy. “You are a young man with a strong will, and I strongly believe in your success.”

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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