‘President Obama, I’m actually Chinese.’

by Robert Costa

The closing exchange at President Obama’s press conference today in Seoul:

THE PRESIDENT:  I feel obliged to take maybe one question from the Korean press — since you guys have been such excellent hosts.  Anybody? This gentleman right here — he’s got his hand up.  He’s the only one who took me up on it.  Go ahead.  And I’ll probably need a translation, though, if you’re asking the question in Korean.  In fact, I definitely will need a translation.  (Laughter.)

REPORTER:  Unfortunately, I hate to disappoint you, President Obama, I’m actually Chinese.  (Laughter.)        

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it’s wonderful to see you.     

REPORTER:   But I think I get to represent the entire Asia.

THE PRESIDENT:  Absolutely.     

REPORTER: We’re one family here in this part of the world.    

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, your English is better than my Mandarin also.  (Laughter.)  But — now, in fairness, though, I did say that I was going to let the Korean press ask a question. So I think that you held up your hand anyway.

REPORTER:   How about will my Korean friends allow me to ask a question on your behalf?  Yes or no?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it depends on whether there’s a Korean reporter who would rather have the question.  No, no takers? 


THE PRESIDENT:  This is getting more complicated than I expected.  (Laughter.) 

REPORTER: Take quick, one question from an Asian, President Obama. 

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, the — as I said, I was going to — go ahead and ask your question, but I want to make sure that the Korean press gets a question as well.

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