The invitations for next week’s White House state dinner are in the mail, and so begins one of Washington’s favorite parlor games: Who scored one of the coveted seats at the Oct. 13 black-tie evening honoring South Korean President Lee Myung-bak?
“I think I should be invited,” said a hopeful David Lee, president of the Korean American Public Affairs Committee. Lee told us he’ll be at the morning arrival ceremony but hasn’t yet received one of the engraved invites for that night.
The guest list is always a closely-guarded secret until the day of the dinner —neither the White House or the South Korean embassy would comment on who made the cut — but expect the usual parade of administration bigwigs, members of Congress and corporate heads, plus a handful of prominent Korean American celebrities.
Such as. . . ? Let’s try to guess!
Former D.C. school head Michelle Rhee and her new husband, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson , are a very good bet; so is entrepreneur David Kim, founder of C2 Education programs. Also contenders: Billionaires Do Won Chang, founder of teenage fashion chain Forever 21, and James Kim, founder of semiconductor giant Amkor.
Every state dinner needs a star or two to glam up the night, like pro golfer Michelle Wie, actress Sandra Oh, comedian Margaret Cho, Tae kwon do master Jhoon Rhee, director/musician Joe Hahn or former FCC appointee/”Survivor” champ Yul Kwon . If Nielsen ratings have any influence, perhaps smouldering “Hawaii Five-O” and “Lost” star Daniel Dae Kim. Or what about Kal Penn’s “Harold and Kumar” co-star John Cho? (Sorry, Jon Gosselin. Really don’t think you’ll make the cut.)
This is the fifth state dinner of the Obama administration, and the White House’s first dinner for South Korea in 13 years. The Clintons hosted three dinners for South Korean leaders (including the infamous evening in 1998 when acclaimed video artist Nam June Paik accidentally dropped his pants in the receiving line); George W. Bush welcomed most world leaders with informal lunches or casual meetings.