The mood in downtown Seoul today was a bit more animated than usual as Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi met with Korean President Roh Moo-hyun at the Blue House, Korea’s presidential residence. The two leaders met to address issues that have recently hurt Korean and Japanese relations. These include the Dokdos, a pair of islands claimed by both Korea and Japan, and Koizumi’s visits to the Yakusuni Shrine in Japan, viewed by many Koreans as a symbol of Japan’s imperialistic past. The meeting today created quite a buzz downtown. Many more policemen than usual patrolled the streets in riot gear, and far more military buses were parked along Sejong-no, the main north-south arterial in downtown Seoul. I did not see many protesters in the streets today. It seems that the City of Seoul overestimated the number of protesters who might take to the street to protest Koizumi’s visit. Traffic was also heavier than usual as a result of the activity on the streets today.
I met an interesting visitor at work today. Bruce Williams is an American nationally syndicated talk show host and columnist. A veteran of the Korean War, he was in town to look for a college he protected during the war. He couldn’t remember much about the school. My Korean colleagues and I did some sleuthing and found the school he sought. It took us awhile, and he left before we could tell him about the school. However, I will contact him tomorrow and let him know. I’ve seen a few Korean celebrities stop by at work, but this is the first American personality I’ve met here. I can’t say that I know him well, but he sounds vaguely familiar. He said that he was on one of the AM stations I used to listen to in Seattle. He might just say a few kind words about me on his show because I helped him out. No matter what, it’s a nice change from the kinds of American cases I’ve seen lately. He’s also the most famous American I’ve met here since I met Henry Kissinger a couple months ago. That’s pretty elite company.