Obama to Return Royal Seals to Korea

U.S. President Barack Obama will visit Korea on April 25, the White House announced Monday.

Obama stops in Japan on the first leg of his Asia trip and then moves on to Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.

It will be his fourth visit to Korea.

Meeting President Park Geun-hye, Obama will "reaffirm the United States' commitment to a strong alliance, review recent developments in North Korea and our combined efforts to promote denuclearization, and discuss our ongoing implementation of the Korea-United States" free trade agreement, the White House said.

He is also likely to return lost royal and national seals of the Chosun Dynasty (1392-1897) and the Korean Empire (1897-1910).

"Of the 11 Korean cultural properties in the U.S. that are subject to repatriation, Seoul and Washington are closely cooperating in returning nine royal and national seals," Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Min Kyung-wook said on Tuesday. "And their repatriation process is underway."

The nine seals which had been looted by U.S. soldiers from Deoksu Palace during the Korean War were seized by U.S. customs authorities last year.

But it will probably take considerable time to return two other Korean cultural properties because their current owners refuse to part with them.

Whether Obama will bring the seals or merely announce a schedule for their return is unclear.

englishnews@chosun.com / Apr. 16, 2014 09:19 KST