A violent storm blew through Washington, DC just as President Lee Myung-bak and First Lady Kim Yoon-ok were supposed to arrive at the White House for the State Dinner. I was on the roof-less photographers' platform across from the North Portico where President Obama and Mrs. Obama stand to greet arriving guests. I got drenched, as did everyone else. White House staff kept mopping the marble floor of the North Portico, and a minute before the President and Mrs. Obama emerged, Chief of Protocol Capricia Penavic Marshall came out, clad in a brown silk gown, and walked up and down the steps in her high heels, checking to see if they were slippery. (Above: The Two Presidential Couples; Penavic is at right)
Ambassador Marshall gave the all-clear, and the President and First Lady walked outside.
"Careful, Careful," President Obama cautioned Mrs. Obama after looking at the slick floor.
Ambassador Marshall herself once fell on the treacherous steps, during the State Dinner for Mexico. She was back on her feet in a flash, however, in a moment captured on video that made global headlines.
I was standing beside the pooler on duty for the evening, Geoff Earle of the New York Post, and he was a good egg about holding one of my cameras under his umbrella, and mopping a lens with his miraculously dry shirt. Below is Earle's full pool report. (Above: The couples pose for a formal portrait)
Click here for the dinner menu and click here for the guest list.
After a torrential downpour stopped, POTUS and FLOTUS stepped out onto the North Portico to pose for the cameras and greet President Lee and First Lady Kim for their arrival at the State Dinner around 7 pm.
“Careful, careful,” Obama cautioned after taking a look at the slick marble as the first couple walked outside.
Mrs. Obama was wearing a long purple gown with one shoulder (her right) exposed and a sparkly turquoise belt. She wore a gold colored bracelet on her right arm and dangly gold earrings of unknown value. The president wore a tux.
The first lady’s dress was designed by Korean-American designer Doo-Ri Chung, we hear.
At this point, President Lee and First Lady Kim arrived in their limo. Mrs. Kim was wearing a pink and white hanbok, which is a traditional Korean dress, according to a knowledgeable fotog.
The two then walked up the stairs, which were covered by a thick red carpet.
When they were one step from the top, each got a warm welcome and handshake from their counterpart. Both POTUS and FLOTUS used both hands to guide their guests, and looked like they were trying especially hard to make sure they didn’t topple over.
Once everybody was safely in place, the four dignitaries lined up to face the soggy photographers gathered on the platform that’s been erected.
POTUS, FLOTUS, and President Lee all gave big grins, but Mrs. Kim was fidgeting with her dress a bit during the shot, which could spoil the Christmas card.
Then, they turned to face the White House, the band inside commenced to play, and they walked inside.
*Top photos by Chuck Kennedy; second by Samantha Appleton/White House