President Obama speaks in a ceremony with South Korean President Park Geun-hye to return nine ancient seals. / Carolyn Kaster, AP
President Obama's trip to South Korea included a return delivery of nine ancient royal seals taken by a U.S. soldier during the Korean War six decades ago.
"I wanted to just let the Korean people know that they're back where they belong," Obama said during an event Friday in Seoul. "And this is a symbol, hopefully, of the respect that we have for Korean culture and our friendship. They're very beautiful."
Obama said that, during the war, a Marine found the seals and took them to the United States as mementos. "I don't think he fully appreciated the historic significance of them," Obama said.
"After his passing, his widow discovered how important they were, and she graciously recognized that they appropriately belonged here in Korea," Obama said. "So she facilitated the return."
South Korea President Park Geun-hye thanked Obama for the return.
"It's very significant that we were able to return home these very historic and precious artifacts," she said. "This event is really the fruits of the close consultations and collaboration that our two countries have been undertaking since late last year."
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