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'I'd have become son-in-law of China'
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09:56, May 30, 2008

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Visiting Republic of Korea (ROK) President Lee Myung-bak spoke not only of geopolitics yesterday during his speech at Peking University, but also of a brief romance he once had with a Chinese girl.

"When I saw Weiming Lake (at Peking University) this morning, I remembered my first love: a beautiful Chinese girl I met while I was working here. I liked her very much," Lee told an audience of more than 500 students and faculty members.

But the romance was short-lived, as he was transferred back home soon after meeting her, he said.

"Otherwise I would have become a son-in-law of the Chinese people. If so, I wonder whether I would have had the chance to become president," Lee said.

He then acknowledged the presence of his wife and daughter and said he should change the subject, which drew a wave of laughter from the audience.

In a more somber tone, Lee told of the personal struggles he faced on his road to the top.

"Many people think my life has been a fairy tale. But it is really just the story of a young man who faced challenges, both internal and external, with ambition and ardor," he said.

After a summary of his rise from poor student to CEO of one of ROK's top conglomerates and then president, Lee spoke of the political challenges he faces today, particularly regarding security in Northeast Asia.

"The unification of the ROK and the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) is the shared wish of the 70 million people of the ROK If Pyongyang wants to make changes, we will work together with the international community to help it develop its economy," he said.

The relationship between China and the ROK has "developed faster than any other in history", he said, adding the two countries must work together to encourage Pyongyang to open up to the outside world.

Lee also expressed his condolences to the victims of the Wenchuan earthquake, and said he had decided to visit the affected area, although it was not on his original itinerary.

At the end of his speech, Lee spent more than 10 minutes signing autographs, and chatting and shaking hands with students.

He later flew to Qingdao, Shandong province, to visit ROK-invested companies and meet with ROK nationals living in the coastal city.

Today, he will fly to Sichuan, accompanied by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

Source: China Daily

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