Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State and a former first lady of the United States visited Ewha on February 20 for a town hall meeting at Welch-Ryang Auditorium. Clinton was awarded the title Distinguished Honorary Ewha Fellow in recognition of her efforts to promote women’s rights and status, and delivered a special lecture under the title “Women’s Empowerment.”
Clinton was in Korea after visiting Japan and Indonesia as part of a five-day diplomatic tour to Asia. Clinton visited Ewha for approximately two out of her 20 hours in Korea. Clinton said that she has “connections with Ewha,” because her father’s family were from Scranton, Pennsylvania (Mary Scranton is the name of Ewha’s founder). Clinton is also a Methodist and her alma mater, Wellesley College, is a sister college with Ewha.
Clinton entered the stage with Ewha President Lee Bae-yong, former president Yoon Hoo-jung and the U.S. Ambassador Kathleen Stephens. Other than an attentive crowd of 2,000 Ewha students, important figures including Christopher Hill, the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and Yi So-yeon, the first Korean astronaut could be seen in the auditorium.
“We are honoring Secretary of State Clinton for the steps she has taken in her life that remind us of the frontier spirit of Ewha,” said Lee in her welcoming speech.
Clinton emphasized the importance of promoting women’s rights and thanked Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon for the work he has done to improve women’s rights. She said, “Advancement in women’s rights is the key to security, peace and prosperity of a nation.” “Part of my mission as the secretary of state is making sure the United States is committed to enhancing the rights of women.”
Clinton also said she wished to “see the future female president of this great nation [Korea],” and Korea’s development was achieved not only by men but also by women.
On the North Korean nuclear issue, Clinton sent a message. “President Obama and I are willing to have a six-party talk with the North and President Obama is ready to normalize the bilateral relationship and sign a permanent peace treaty with the North as long as the North will denuclearize completely,” said Clinton.
A Q&A session with Ewha students followed the speech. Answering questions about her current political career, thoughts on love and family, Clinton said, “At the end of 1998, people in New York started asking me to run for Senate, I said no since it made no sense to me.” “But, there was a banner behind me which said ‘Dare to Compete.’ And this young woman, a basketball captain at a high school, was introduced to me and she said, ‘Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton, dare to compete.’”
Clinton also talked about her love for husband, former president, Bill Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, who promoted Clinton during the presidential election despite harsh criticism. “I think balance between work, family and love is the key. And for me, I believe I have done a good job balancing it, and have had my family’s support,” said Clinton.
After her tour in Korea, Clinton headed to China to continue with her diplomatic tour. “Although the staff member had a hard time arranging the event in a short time, I am happy that the event was successfully carried out,” said Kim Yung-wook, a professor at the School of Communications and Associate Vice President of Office of Communications at Ewha.