- The Washington Times - Monday, March 26, 2012

SEOUL — That maven of social media, President Obama, brought his act to Korea this week and got accused of disguising himself as a phony supporter in an online contest.

In advance of Mr. Obama’s visit, the U.S. Embassy here sponsored a competition called “Ask President Obama.” The three winning questions from Koreans received written responses from Mr. Obama.

But the president noted in a nuclear policy speech Monday at Hankuk University that somebody who posted comments in the contest accused him of posting positive remarks about himself using a fake name.

“One of you … this is true … asked this question: ‘Have you posted, yourself, a supportive opinion on a website under a disguised name, pretending you are one of the supporters of President Obama?’” Mr. Obama said to laughter from the largely student audience.

He added: “I hadn’t thought of this, but the truth is, I have not done this. Maybe my daughters have, but I haven’t done that myself.”

The three winners of the contest were:

• Yoo-il Lee, CEO of a Korean trade company, who asked, “What is Korea to you?”

(Mr. Obama answered, in part, “a strong ally for the United States, and an extraordinary example to the world.”)

• Bo-yeon Suh, a university student, who asked, “What is your favorite speech?”

(The president said it was “hard for me to choose one” and offered four: his 2004 address to the Democratic National Convention, a 2008 speech on race relations in the midst of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy, his acceptance speech for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, and a speech in Prague in 2009 on the dangers of nuclear proliferation.)

• Nam-soo Han, a North Korean refugee who asked for “your stance on NK human rights.”

(Mr. Obama said his administration “will continue to support programs to increase freedom of information, promote human rights and rule of law, and lay the foundation for civil society in the DPRK.”)

The president told students in the audience that they are inheriting a “dynamic” Korea.

“You know that in our digital age, we can connect and innovate across borders like never before — with your smart phones and Twitter and Me2Day and Kakao Talk,” he said. “It’s no wonder so many people around the world have caught the ‘Korean Wave,’ Hallyu,” a reference to the rapid spread of Korean culture in the past decade or more.

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