The Washington Post

White House state dinner for Korea: We try to guess the guests

We don’t know yet who’s going to the White House state dinner for Korea, but let’s toss some names around: Margaret Cho, Daniel Dae Kim, or Michelle Rhee, maybe? (Getty Images; AP)

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.

Michelle Obama, right, picking vegetables from the White House garden Wednesday with kids from D.C. schools (at left, fifth grader Sterling Zapata). The White House said some of the herbs and vegetable picked will be used at the next state dinner. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

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.


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