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NFL Star Has Lunch With President Roh

Posted April. 05, 2006 02:59,   


On his first visit to Korea, Hines Ward said that he is “very intrigued with Korean heritage.” Asked about his purpose of the visit, Ward said, “I believe I can inspire children with mixed-blood backgrounds in Korea. I’d be happy if I’d be able to strengthen their will to overcome any hardships.”

Ward continued, “I feel sympathy for mixed-race children because it was not their choice to be born that way. It is somewhat unfair in that aspect. I’d feel greatly rewarded if I could be a help to just one of those children.”

To this, President Roh Moo-hyun said, “I wonder whether Mr. Ward could have achieved such a big success if he was brought up here in Korea. His presence has been a big hope for many people. The Korean government will strive to establish an environment where (mixed-race people) can lead successful lives.”

Ward once again showed deep affection for his mother, saying that he was able to succeed thanks to her.

He said, “Mom always prayed to God that I didn’t hurt myself, and I was given a big blessing. She wanted to see me lead a better life. Because I didn’t want my mother to be spoken ill of by others, I was even more careful and put in more effort. All of these made me into who I am today.”

President Roh praised Ward, saying, “We can all learn a lot from what Hines has said. In Korea, the greatest virtue is filial piety. Although I won’t be president then, I would give him the award for being the most filial person when he retires.”

Traditional Korean cuisine was presented at the luncheon held in Cheong Wa Dae’s Baek-ak Hall for an hour and a half following the interview. When President Roh praised Ward for his skilled use of chopsticks, Ward said, “Mom always cooked American food before she prepared Korean food, but I always found Korean food more to my taste. Now my team members ask me when will be the next time I serve kalbi (Korean style barbecue) again. I believe that this is one of the advantages mixed-race people can enjoy.”

Ward added, “When I was young, there were times when I was ashamed of my Korean culture, but now I’m ashamed of that. The most regrettable thing now is that I haven’t learned the Korean language.”

He also added, “Studying is harder than sports, but I enjoy doing harder things because it is more interesting. Although I’m a football player, I have been studying real estate law.”

President Roh gave Ward Korean traditional tea-ware and china embossed with the rose of Sharon, Korea’s national flower. Ward, in return, gave Roh a football, a Super Bowl championship cap, and a jersey with the number 86 on the back.

Yeon-Wook Jung jyw11@donga.com