Park Gets Surprise Gift from Putin

  • By Jung Nok-yong, Kim Jin-myung

    September 05, 2016 11:21

    President Park Geun-hye looks at a scroll given to her by Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok, Russia on Saturday. /Courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae

    President Park Geun-hye received an unexpected gift from her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Saturday.

    Meeting her in Vladivostok, the Russian leader presented Park with a scroll by her father, strongman Park Chung-hee, with his New Year's wish for 1979, the year of his assassination.

    Cheong Wa Dae on Sunday said that it was a "personal gift" by Putin. The scroll translates as "with strong teamwork, let's move forward together," according to a mounted plaque at the bottom of the frame, and is attributed to "South Korea's great leader Park Chung-hee."

    Putin said he heard that Park painted a New Year's scroll every year and obtained her father's last work. It came from a Korean who moved to the U.S. after Park's assassination and sold it there, he said. Cheong Wa Dae said that it has no idea how the Russians got hold of the scroll.

    A web search reveals that an American with the initials GLW tried to sell a scroll attributed to Park Chung-hee online. He claimed his parents became close to a Korean family who moved into the same building in Colorado in 1979 and gave them the scroll when the American couple moved to New Mexico around 1982 and 1983.

    GLW said his father asked him to inquire about the work before he died in late 2006. The Korean family did not associate with other Koreans and told his parents they fled their country after Park's assassination in 1979 due to "political circumstances."

    It is unclear whether this is the same scroll.

    Putin also thanked Park for sending a New Year's gift to his daughter Yekaterina. A government official said, "It was not a New Year's gift but a present for her birthday in January."

    Another government official said Park sends gifts to all the first ladies of major countries, and since Putin is divorced the role fell to his daughter. The gift was a cosmetics gift set.

    Meanwhile, Putin was about an hour late to the Eastern Economic Forum on Saturday, and the summit with Park was delayed for an hour and 45 minutes.

    He was apparently busy opening an aquarium in Siberia. Putin is notorious for being late and has previously kept Park as well as U.S. President Barack Obama waiting.

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