U.S. President Barack Obama gave a special lecture at Minerva Auditorium, Seoul Campus, at 10:30 am on Monday, March 26, 2012.
Just previously, President Park Chul of HUFS conferred an honorary alumnus certificate upon President Barack Obama and said, "On behalf of the HUFS family, I would like to welcome you to HUFS, Korea's leading global university. It is our tremendous pleasure to have the U.S. President to give us a speech. This is a truly historical moment as this is the first-ever speech by a U.S. President at any university in Korea." President Park Chul also expressed his gratitude in his thank-you letter for President Barack Obama's visit to HUFS. He said that President Obama was the most important guest to the university in all its 60 years. The President's mere presence was an inspiration to the 20,000 enrolled students to reach for their dreams and become global leaders, and his visit was a proud moment for the 110,000 alumni.
In his special lecture, President Barack Obama said it was a great honor to visit HUFS and expressed his gratitude for making him an honorary alumnus. Beginning his speech by saying "Gamsa Hamnida" in Korean, he stressed that HUFS has one of the world's finest foreign language programs in the world. Under the theme of "Korea's Role in International Society," he emphasized the increasingly important role that Korea is playing not just in Asia but on the global stage and reaffirmed the strength of the Korea-U.S. alliance while outlining his key messages concerning world peace and nuclear issues. While mentioning the progress that Korea has made to date, he also encouraged people around the world to come and see HUFS, an institution of higher education that produces truly great talents.
The lecture aired live around the world on KBS1TV, ABC, and the White House Internet TV. It was attended by about 150 local and foreign dignitaries including American Ambassador to Korea Sung Kim, Commander of the U.S. Forces Korea Gen. James Thurman, Korean Ambassador to the U.S. Choi Young-jin, National Assembly member Jeong Mong-jun, National Assembly member Park Young-seon, National Assembly member Park Seon-young, former Korean Ambassador to the U.S. Han Deok-su, former Korean Ambassador to the U.S. Han Seung-su, former Chief of Staff Jung Jung-gil, chairman of the HUFS Alumni Association Gweon Sun-han, chairman of the Americas Alumni Association Lee Deok-seon, CEO of Fila Korea Yoon Yoon-soo, and chair professor Yi Mun-yeol, as well as some 700 enrolled students. The event and the President's visit to Korea were covered by about 300 journalists and reporters from international media outlets such as Reuter News Agency, Asahi TV from Japan, and Al-Jazeera TV, and local networks such as MBC, KBS, and SBS.
HUFS is the first university in Korea to ever be visited by an incumbent U.S. President. The visit reflects the importance that President Obama has always placed on multilateral peace-building diplomacy and education in foreign languages, and it reveals the U.S. recognition of the competency and reputation of HUFS as a high-caliber foreign language institute.