The president's visit to South Korea began with a visit to the demilitarized border zone separating that country from North Korea. Peering long and hard at Kim Jong Un's kingdom through a pair of binoculars, Obama made this observation:
"It's like you're in a time warp. It's like you're looking across 50 years into a country that has missed 40 years or 50 years of progress."
Obama spent an hour at the border, then returned to Seoul via helicopter for a private meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, the AP's Ben Feller reports, which was followed by a joint news conference. (ABC News describes a slight snafu when the press pool, made up of about 15 journalists covering the president's visit, were barred by South Korean security from accessing the Blue House, the presidential residence where the two heads of state greeted one another.)
Both leaders warned there would be consequences if North Korea proceeds with a planned satellite launch using the same long-range rocket technology that could lob over nuclear missiles. What kind of consequences? The President said the launch would jeopardize an agreement that would send U.S. food aid to the impoverished country.
"Bad behavior will not be rewarded," Obama said. "There had been a pattern, I think, for decades in which North Korea thought if they had acted provocatively, then somehow they would be bribed into ceasing and desisting acting provocatively."
Also on the agenda, according to The New York Times: Obama and Lee discussed a plan to provide nonlethal aid, including medical supplies and communications equipment, to Syrian rebels.