Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Obama's three favorite speeches. Here they are....

| No Comments

President Barack Obama has made many speeches and he named his favorites in reply to an on-line question from a Korean student during his visit to the Republic for a nuclear security summit. They are:

2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, the speech that skyrocketed him to fame, setting the stage for Obama to be elected president just four years later. Obama said the speech "focused on the fact that what unites the American people is far stronger than the issues that divide us."

2008 race relations speech in Philadelphia, delivered when his campaign was threatened by inflammatory remarks of his now former pastor the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. now retired from the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Obama said the speech "addressed how we must understand our own difficult history, while also bridging our racial and ethnic divisions."

2009 Nobel Peace Prize speech in Oslo. Obama said that speech "spoke about how people and nations from across the world have a responsibility to understand the causes of war, and to work for a just and lasting peace that makes life worth living."

below, from the White House.....

The U.S. Embassy in Seoul held a competition titled "Ask President Obama," in which people submitted questions via social media for President Obama. The three winning questions received written responses from President Obama - those questions, and the President's answers, are below. The top 10 questioners are also receiving signed copies of The Audacity of Hope in Korean.

A link to the winning questions and answers is here:

Top Three Winners:

1) Yoo-il Lee, CEO of a Korean trade company


You mentioned Korea more often than any other countries in your official speeches. It is not easy for the citizens of the Republic of Korea to accurately look back at themselves. At the same time, I feel proud whenever you mention Korea in your speeches. At the beginning of a new year, many Koreans wonder how many times you will mention Korea throughout the year. To you, what is Korea that you mention it so often in your official speeches? What are your thoughts on the Korean people?

I mention the Republic of Korea often in my speeches because it is both a strong ally for the United States, and an extraordinary example to the world. Because our two countries have stood together, the people of South Korea were able to build a democratic and economic miracle out of the ruins of war. And today, the Republic of Korea is more than an ally of the United States - it is one of our largest trading partners, which supports prosperity on both sides of the Pacific.

The Republic of Korea sets a powerful example to the world in how to build a strong and thriving democracy, while standing up for freedom and security on the Korean peninsula and beyond. Our two countries have fought together in war, and stood together in peace, and now we coordinate closely on a range of issues - from nuclear security and non-proliferation, to our efforts in Afghanistan and Haiti, to our work supporting development and humanitarian assistance around the globe. And in the face of unprovoked attacks on your citizens, South Koreans have shown great strength and resilience.

Korea's success is a tribute to the sacrifices and tenacity of the Korean people. You show what can be achieved when people come together, educate their children, stand up for their values, and pursue a positive vision for their country. I think the Korean story is an important, and that's why I will continue to speak about it.

2): Bo-yeon Suh, University Student


Welcome to Korea. Your speeches are the best materials for students like me who major in English. Every word in your speeches is so refined that some of my friends memorize your speeches. The most memorable speech for me is the Prague speech on a nuclear-free world in April 2009 in which you mentioned the importance of nuclear security that will be addressed during the Nuclear Security Summit. What is the most special speech for you? Thank you again for visiting our country to promote world peace.

Thank you for your kind words about my speeches. It is hard for me to choose one favorite, because I've given speeches on so many different topics. I do think that one important message that I've tried to carry through many of my speeches is the notion that people can come together to overcome difficult challenges.

This message of unity has been central to my most important speeches. A speech that I gave to the Democratic National Convention in 2004 focused on the fact that what unites the American people is far stronger than the issues that divide us. A speech that I gave on race relations in 2008 addressed how we must understand our own difficult history, while also bridging our racial and ethnic divisions. And a speech that I gave in Oslo after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize spoke about how people and nations from across the world have a responsibility to understand the causes of war, and to work for a just and lasting peace that makes life worth living.

The Prague speech that you mentioned also makes it clear that while the dangers of nuclear weapons are extraordinary, we can come together to harness the power of nuclear energy for peace - not war. That's what the Summit starting tonight is all about: an effort to secure nuclear materials so that they never fall into the wrong hands, and so that we can benefit from peaceful nuclear power. And that's what is important in speeches - to remind people that we can overcome our divisions, and draw on peoples' hopes and the things that unite us as human beings.

3): Nam-soo Han, North Korean refugee


Mr. President, I am a North Korea refugee. As a person from North Korea, I would like to ask what should be done to draw more attention to the North Korean human rights issues in the international community, and what the top priority is in resolving North Korea issues.

The United States remains deeply concerned about the well-being of the North Korean people, the human rights situation in the DPRK and the plight of North Korean refugees. Your personal story of courage is remarkable and a testament to the possibility for North Koreans to lead lives in freedom and dignity.

The United States has led efforts around the globe to call attention to the human rights situation in North Korea. Improving human rights conditions is a top U.S. priority in our North Korea policy and it will have a significant impact on the prospect for closer U.S.-DPRK ties.

In the last year, the United States Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues, Ambassador Robert King, traveled to Pyongyang and for the first time engaged directly with the North Korean government on human rights issues. We emphasized our concerns about North Korean human rights in all three of our recent bilateral meetings with the DPRK.

We 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. Meanwhile, the extraordinary progress that the Republic of Korea has accomplished in broadening prosperity and democracy for its citizens stands as a powerful contrast to the challenges in the North.

Remaining 7 Finalists:

1) Hye-jeong Chang, Graduate student


Mr. President, I know you are a big advocate for a world free of nuclear weapon. But personally I kind of agree with the thesis of "balance of terror"(advocated by, for example, Kenneth Waltz), in which nuclear weapons contributed significantly in deterring a war with the fear that once a war starts, that will destroy the whole world once and for all. If we succeeded in freeing ourselves of all nuclear weapons, then wouldn't there be any danger of us going to back to the times when going to a war with conventional forces was an easy policy option? Is there any concern that a nuclear free world will raise the frequency of a war?

2) Seo-jin Eun, University student


As the U.S. president, you are drawing a lot of attention from people. Of course, I understand that such attention is not always something to be happy about, but still I also guess when you are surrounded by your supporters, you would find it rewarding and heartening. However, it seems impossible to make everyone be on your side every time. So have you ever felt disappointed or frustrated when you saw some of your opponents post 'negative opinions' about you on the website? Also, have you, yourself, posted a supportive opinion on the website under a disguised name, pretending you are one of the supporters of the President?

3) Sang-heum Park, University student, Chief editor of his university newspaper


I once read that you exerted an excellent leadership while you were the president of the Harvard Law Review. What sort of efforts did you make to improve teamwork there and what were the challenges you faced as a leader at that time? How did such an experience help you work as the U.S. president?

4) Ho-geun Park, Businessman


I am sure you are much interested in children education because you are the father of two lovely girls, Malia and Sasha. You might not have been able to spend a lot of time with them from the time you decided to run for the presidential office. You are already successful as the president but you might have similar concerns as any other fathers of their children. You are known to be strict with your daughters. What is your education philosophy in a world of social injustice? How do you wish to be remembered by your daughters?

5) Jae-gap Kim, High school student


I am very excited that the U.S. president is visiting Korea. Why is the Nuclear Security Summit held in Korea even though North Korean nuclear weapons are not on the official agenda? What can a high school student do to promote nuclear security?

6) Arina Hong, Businesswoman


Both South Korea and the U.S. have presidential election coming up this year. I am curious to hear President Obama's personal opinion on how the election will affect the bilateral relationship. Will there be any changes?

7) Kyle Devlin, English education professor


What book had the most influence on you when you were growing up? Which books that you read growing up have you suggested your daughters read because you thought the lessons the books offered were especially important in today's day and age? What would you say to young people who are reluctant to read and need encouragement?


Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets


Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 26, 2012 6:52 AM.

Valerie Jarrett keynoting J Street Conference was the previous entry in this blog.

Rahm's March 26, 2012 public schedule. Public Safety with McCarthy is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.