Obama offers condolences, White House magnolia tree to South Korea

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President Obama on Friday honored those who died last week when a ferry capsized off the South Korean coast.

The president, speaking at a news conference with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, said he will present a magnolia tree from the South Lawn of the White House to the South Korean high school that lost many of its students in the tragedy.

“On behalf of all Americans, I want to express our deepest condolences,” Mr. Obama said. “So many [of the victims] were young students with their entire lives ahead of them. I’m a father of two daughters the same age or close to the same age as those who were lost, so I can only imagine what the parents are going through at this point, the incredible heartache.”

The magnolia tree, the president said, had stood for more than a century and “represents beauty, and with every spring, renewal,” the same qualities embodied by the students lost last week.

The ferry Sewol capsized April 16 with more than 470 people aboard. At least 181 died, and 121 are still missing, according to media reports.

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