Fellow Koreans, our beloved men and women in uniform,
Pohang is home to the Republic of Korea Marine Corps. This city is where the first amphibious landing operation by United Nations forces took place in July 1950, and its Yeongil Bay hosts the ROK Marine Corps Education and Training Group that all marines have gone through.
For the first time in history, we are holding the Armed Forces Day ceremony here in Yeongil Bay with the ROK Marine Corps. It is very meaningful to celebrate the advancement of our armed forces aboard the ROKS Marado – home to the most valiant amphibious units which only real men can aspire to join and the type of vessel Korea’s first marines dreamed of.
Today, Korean War veteran Lee Bong-sik, one of the first batch of ROK marines, read aloud the Pledge of Allegiance to the national flag and exemplified the living history of patriotism. This man – who personally received calligraphy handwritten and presented by President Rhee Syngman that read “Invincible Marines” – has my full respect. I also commend the hard work of all marines past and present who have readily devoted the prime of their lives to protecting justice and freedom for the Republic of Korea at the forefront of those efforts.
Today’s Republic has been made possible thanks to the dedication of the guardian spirits of the country and decorated war veterans as well as the
U.N. Korean War veterans and ROK
-U.S. alliance’s strong solidarity. I pay heartfelt tribute to all of those who have worked hard to help establish and maintain peace.
Fellow Koreans, our brave marines,
The ROK Marine Corps has been given proud nicknames that match its gallantry and highly distinguished military feats.
After the Tongyeong amphibious operation in August 1950, our marines became the “Devil Capturers.” It was the first successful independent landing operation conducted by the Republic of Korea’s military just one year after its founding. The honorable moniker “Invincible Marines” was given as well after the victory of the Battle of Dosolsan Mountain in Yanggu-gun County.
Still today, our marines stand guard wherever our people are – from our five northernmost islands along the border in the West Sea to our southernmost island of Jeju and beyond the Korean Peninsula as U.N. peacekeeping units
Now the ROK Marine Corps is set to put on wings again after 48 years.
When the Marine Corps Aviation Group is reestablished in December this year, our marines will finally be armed with multidimensional attack capabilities and mobility.
Regardless of the circumstances, our marines will be able to respond to
any situation with their superior abilities and carry out their missions to perfection anywhere.
While preparing to reestablish the Marine Corps Aviation Group, five marines lost their lives on duty in July 2018 – Colonel Kim Jeong-il, Lieutenant Colonel Roh Dong-hwan, Master Sergeant Kim Jin-hwa, Sergeant First Class Kim Se-yeong and Sergeant Park Jae-woo. May they rest in eternal peace.
Marines’ valor and pride stem from the priceless victories achieved through their comradeship and sacrifices. The dedication of heroic marines who have carried on the legacy of “The Invincible Marines” will be remembered as a vital part of the Republic of Korea.
In August, our military conducted Operation Miracle in Afghanistan and quickly but
safely rescued Afghans identified by Korea as people of merit. Its planning was meticulously drawn up under tight security together with relevant government ministries and agencies, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Intelligence Service. Even feeding bottles and baby
formula were prepared for their infants.
Operational personnel, including medical staff, security guards and crew, opted to stand while taking care of those on board throughout the flight in order to free up space for one more person. After observing the activities of other countries’ embassies and military forces in Afghanistan, an ROKAF Air Transport Squadron commander said, “Korea has become much stronger than I thought, and I feel it’s getting stronger even today.”
Although such an operation had never been attempted before and its success couldn’t be guaranteed, the Republic of Korea demonstrated its mighty potential without a single loss of life.
Our national defense capabilities did not soar overnight like a
miracle. They have been achieved through the will of our people and service members to protect our land, sea and skies with our own strength. Our military’s commitment to building a peaceful Korean Peninsula has helped Korea advance to become the world’s 6th
strongest military power, according to Global Firepower.
To this day, my Administration has been unwaveringly pushing Defense Reform 2.0 since its inauguration.
We have applied cutting-edge defense science and technology to our weapons systems, contributing to the development of related industries. In addition, missile guidelines that had existed for 40 years have been completely abolished on the foundation of the solid ROK-U.S. alliance, paving the way for us to develop and deploy much stronger missiles.
Now equipped with the Aegis Weapon System and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, our Navy is progressing toward an “ocean-going navy” by pushing a project to build a 30,000-ton level light aircraft carrier that can serve as a multipurpose military base anywhere in the vast ocean.
The Air Force has completed a prototype of the KF-21 – the next-generation Korean fighter jet developed entirely with our own technologies. Capable of flying at approximately 1.8 times the speed of sound and carrying up to 7.7 tons of air-to-surface missiles, the KF-21 Boramae will become the backbone of our Air Force. Now, our military is emerging as a cutting-edge science and technology-driven force based on Fourth Industrial Revolution-related technologies.
Our armed forces are building an integrated air defense system that utilizes a hyper-connected network and a hybrid manned-unmanned combat system. In addition, our unmanned air power is becoming sophisticated enough to perform reconnaissance, communication relays, attacks and other missions.
To usher in an era of “National Space Development” beyond “Defense Space Development,” we will also boldly advance an artificial intelligence-based cyber warfare system, reconnaissance satellites and solid propellant-related technologies for space launch vehicles.
The Republic of Korea and the United States have reaffirmed our determination to transfer wartime operational control while strengthening our combined defense posture, and relevant transfer conditions are being met swiftly.
Today, we will demonstrate to the public the Peace Maker landing operation – which will be carried out exclusively by our armed forces. This future-oriented joint operation among our Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps will display their ability to protect the country through the power of strong security. Our people will be able to see fully this aspect of our reliable armed forces.
Members of our armed forces,
The Government is doing all it can to develop comprehensive security capabilities that no one dare challenge – power that will keep us from being shaken.
The Government submitted next year’s total defense budget of 55.2 trillion won to the National Assembly. This amount reflects a 37 percent increase from 2017. In particular, the R&D budget for building advanced technology-based core combat strength and the development of next-generation weapons will be significantly raised to 4.9 trillion won. Virtual reality- and augmented reality-based simulation training systems for realistic battle exercises will be expanded as well. Efforts to actively foster the domestic defense industry are also contained in the budget.
Most of all, the state’s responsibility to our young people will be strengthened.
Soldiers’ monthly pay will be increased – sergeants will receive 676,000 won
. We will be able to keep our promise of guaranteeing a salary equivalent to the 2017 minimum wage. The per-day cost of individual meals will be increased to 11,000 won. The reduction of the service term to 18 months will be completed by December this year. In this way, government efforts for the Republic of Korea’s peace and security as well as soldiers’ welfare have made considerable achievements.
The military itself is carrying out intensive reforms. Through the revision of the Military Court Act, the right to a transparent and fair investigation and trial has been institutionally guaranteed.
The key to military innovation lies in human rights. Comradeship forged while respecting each other’s human rights is precisely the element needed to nurture our military’s morale and combat strength.
With a sense of duty to defend their homeland, our service members are doing their utmost to complete their mission. I ask you to keep in mind that that bone-crushing determination to make human rights-focused reforms is a shortcut to building a mighty military.
Fellow Koreans, our beloved men and women in uniform,
In August, General Hong Beom-do, commander of the Greater Korea Independence Army, was brought home. Last week, 68 warriors, including the late Private First Class Kim Seok-ju and the late Private First Class Jeong Hwan-jo – heroes from the Battle of Jangjin Reservoir – were returned to their hometowns to be laid to rest.
The country that these heroes dreamed of was a nation overflowing with peace and prosperity. Even at this moment, we are progressing toward that country those heroes envisioned as we join hands with the world. This is a significant year as it marks the 30th
anniversary of the Republic of Korea joining the United Nations. Together with the United Nations, we defended freedom and peace, and now, as a member of the United Nations, we are fulfilling our responsibilities to the international community.
In 1993, just two years after joining the United Nations, we dispatched an engineering unit
to Somalia as a U.N. peacekeeping force, the first mission of its kind for us. Currently, the Dongmyeong Unit in Lebanon, the Cheonghae Unit in waters off Somalia, the Ark Unit in the United Arab Emirates and the Hanbit Unit in South Sudan are playing active roles around the world. Today, high in the sky above Pohang, paratroopers carried the fluttering unit flags of the 19 dispatched contingents. I send greetings of comfort and encouragement to the soldiers deployed overseas who are quietly fulfilling their duties as well as their families.
I have faith in our military. I am proud of our reliable security posture. Based on this trust and pride, before the United Nations, I proposed an end-of-war declaration for the Korean Peninsula and a new era of reconciliation and cooperation.
The foremost and greatest responsibility of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is to build and preserve permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula. This is also the mission of our military.
The Government and military will respond resolutely to any act that threatens the life and safety of the people. I ask the people to support our imposing service members with greater trust and affection. We will surely build complete peace together with our military.