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Apr 26, 2023 | In The News

What do Reps. Young Kim and Michelle Steel, Chip and Joanna Gaines, Angelina Jolie and former Dodger Chan Ho Park have in common Wednesday night? They — among a bevy of people from the political, entertainment and business worlds — are on the guest list for the White House’s state dinner with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.

Wednesday’s black-tie dinner includes several dignitaries, from Vice President Kamala Harris to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.

There are multiple Southern California lawmakers, including Reps. Judy Chu and Ted Lieu, in addition to Young Kim and Steel. Kim and Steel were two of the first three Korean American women elected to Congress, and both are wearing traditional Korean clothing, called a hanbok, their offices said.

Among the celebrities invited for the fête are Broadway stars Norm Lewis, Lea Salonga and Jessica Vosk, who are slated to perform during the festivities.

There’s Olympic gold medal snowboarder Chloe Kim, a Southern California native and daughter of Korean immigrants, and Park, a former Dodgers pitcher and the first South Korean to play in Major League Baseball. And there’s actress Jolie, a humanitarian who is bringing son Maddox Jolie-Pitt, and Joanna Gaines, creator of the Magnolia Network and a former HGTV star who recently traveled to her mother’s homeland in South Korea.

First lady Jill Biden, who oversaw planning for what will be the administration’s second state dinner, recruited Korean American celebrity chef Edward Lee to whip up a menu showcasing the “best of America” — but with Korean touches.

Some 200 guests will be seated in the East Room, the largest in the executive mansion, at tables topped with towering centerpieces of cherry tree boughs in full bloom. They will dine on crabcakes, beef ribs and banana splits.

The crabcake appetizer comes with a slaw of cabbage, kohlrabi, fennel and cucumber topped with a vinaigrette made using gochujang, a red chili paste and a bowl of chilled yellow squash soup. The braised beef short ribs, the main course, are topped with sorghum-glazed carrots and served on a dollop of grits made from butter beans instead of corn.

Dessert is a deconstructed banana split, featuring lemon bar ice cream, caramelized bananas, fresh berries and mint ginger snap cookie crumble drizzled with a caramel sauce infused with doenjang, a fermented soybean paste.

A state visit, including an arrival ceremony on the South Lawn and a sparkly state dinner, is the highest diplomatic honor the U.S. bestows on its closest allies.

Yoon was visiting as the U.S. and South Korea mark the 70th year of an alliance that began at the end of the Korean War and committed the U.S. to help South Korea defend itself, particularly from North Korea. Approximately 28,500 U.S. troops are currently based in South Korea.


The Orange County Register

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