Former President Clinton draws big crowd at South Korea book signing
February 27, 2005
SEOUL — Hundreds of South Koreans waited for hours Friday for the chance to shake hands with and watch former President Bill Clinton sign their copies of his autobiography “My Life.”
Some people brought two books each, the limit for the signing at the Kyobo Book Centre in the Gangnam District, south of the Han River. Some brought their kids. Some wouldn’t leave the room where Clinton stood for two hours signing autographs.
Three South Korean girls from Seoul Foreign Language High School got in line, outside, at 6:30 a.m., seven hours before the autograph session began.
“We were almost freezing to death,” said one of the girls, who along with her sophomore classmates are taking a special class aimed at getting accepted at an American university. “But our teacher came to cheer us.”
Clinton was in Seoul on Thursday and Friday to promote his book, which has sold 2 million copies worldwide. A Hangul version has sold more than 100,000 copies.
Earlier this week, Clinton and former President George H.W. Bush toured areas of South Asia hit by the Dec. 26 tsunami. Clinton has said he would donate part of the proceeds of his book sales this week to the relief efforts.
On Thursday, Clinton said he thought the recent tension about North Korea’s nuclear program would lessen with more diplomatic discussions.
“I don’t think the situation will grow any worse,” Clinton told The Chosun Ilbo on Thursday. “I expect that within several months, you’ll see results through the efforts of the U.S., China, South Korea and others.”
Clinton was president in 1994 when the first nuclear crisis happened on the peninsula. Then, an agreement between the United States and North Korea was to freeze the communist country’s nuclear weapons development. Later, the United States discovered that agreement was violated. Earlier this month, North Korea announced it has nuclear weapons, a claim that hasn’t been independently verified.
On Friday, Dan Meadors waited in line to get an autograph for his mother. Meadors, from Clearwater, Fla., and a teacher at Hanyoung High School, said he was surprised there were almost no other western faces in the crowd.
“I would have thought it would have been 50/50” South Korean and American, he said.
Clinton was supposed to travel to South Korea last year to promote his book, but the trip was cancelled because of his heart problems.