SEOUL, July 7 -- Many South Koreans felt the personal charm of Chinese President Xi Jinping during his two-day visit to Seoul last week.
Local media carried broad and enthusiastic coverage of the trip of Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan from Thursday to Friday, saying their visit was of great political, economic and cultural significance for bilateral relations.
South Koreans paid much attention to their familiarity with South Korean culture such as TV soaps, and to their friendship with the country, China's close neighbor.
On the second day of his stay in Seoul, Xi delivered a speech at a local university, saying China-South Korea ties were "at their best in history." He entered the university's auditorium to a standing ovation and won loud applause and cheers nearly 30 times during his lecture.
The president started and ended his lecture, attended by some 500 South Korean students and dignitaries, by saying "hello" and "thank you" to his audience in Korean.
Calling China an eternal and reliable "friend" of the Korean people, Xi said his country wants to see South Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) improve relations, and supports the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula.
Referring to the smash-hit South Korean TV series, "My Love from the Star," Xi said it was popular in China as well, especially among young students, which prompted enthusiastic applause from the audience.
Internet users here spoke positively of Xi's lecture, describing it as "witty" and "moving," with some netizens talking about his use of the Korean language, while others expressed hope that the peaceful reunification referred to by the president would eventually come true.
"I read news about Xi's lecture as well as his summit with President Park Geun-hye in newspapers. He appeared to succeed in spreading perceptions among Koreans that China is a genuine friend and neighbor of Korea," a South Korean office worker surnamed Lee told Xinhua.
Amity between Xi and Park was on display during their summit talks. Local media said the South Korean presidential office provided Xi with the best protocol during his visit, introducing their personal bonds that began in 2006 when they held the first meeting.
The two leaders, local media reported, had much in common. Both Xi and Park took office early last year, and had similar difficulties in their youths. Park was known to have been a fan of ancient Chinese philosophy, and it could have made it possible for their bonds to be cemented, local media said.
"Firm bonds between Xi and Park will help upgrade China-South Korea relations. In the past, ties between the two countries were restricted to economy and trade, but Xi's visit indicates bilateral bonds will expand even to politics, a reward from China for the good economic relations," said Jung Yoo-suk, a graduate student in Seoul.
Meanwhile, Peng, the Chinese president's wife, also displayed familiarity with South Korean culture, describing her husband as a lookalike of Do Min-joon, the lead character in the hit South Korean soap "My Love from the Star."
On Thursday, Peng, escorted by senior South Korean presidential secretary for political affairs, Cho Yoon-sun, toured the ancient palace of Changdeok, built in the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).
While exchanging traditional gifts, Cho gave two bottle openers, carved with two Korean words "star" and "flower," to Peng, saying Xi can use the one shaped like a star and Peng can use the other.
Mindful of Xi in his youth, Peng said South Korean actor Kim Soo-hyun, who starred as the main character of the soap, resembled Xi when he was younger. Kim shot to stardom in China with the TV series.
"She appeared to express her familiarity with Korean culture. When I was a child, I watched many Chinese movies and TV dramas," said Cha Kyu-sang, who is running a business that helps place students in overseas schools.
"Now, Korean cultural products are flowing into China. Those exchanges will help people of the two countries understand each other," Cha added.