I am proud of the National Intelligence Service and all of you as well. Your organization is now changing the fate of the Korean Peninsula and the course of world history. Your organization has played a leading role in making the PyeongChang Olympics a Peace Olympics and enabling the inter-Korean summits and the North Korea-U.S. summit at a time when no one could even conceive of such gatherings.
Once criticized as a hotbed of deep-rooted evils, the NIS has now been reborn as an intelligence agency working for the people. It is now taking the initiative in supporting my own peace efforts and those of the Government. Its competence is being recognized by the international community. These examples show some of the remarkable changes of your own making.
I am well aware of how hard it is to carry out reforms aimed at innovating an institution's fabric and culture. It entails excruciating efforts and indescribable pains.
As President, I want to give Director Suh Hoon and all of you heartfelt applause to show my appreciation for your dedication to reforming your institution in an exemplary manner despite such pains.
Your loyalty should never lie with a president or an administration but rather with the nation and its people, which the President represents.
Upon arriving at the NIS’s main entrance today, I first unveiled a stone plaque titled "Unknown Stars.” I believe it is the fundamental imperative of the NIS to remain loyal and devoted to the nation and people under any circumstance, even when it is impossible to leave one's name behind. Creating a conducive environment and carrying out the NIS’s fundamental imperative are the tasks of the times for which you and I have to join forces.
Today I promise you unequivocally that I will never use the NIS for political advantage. Loyalty to my Administration will never be requested. The political neutrality of the NIS will be guaranteed unquestionably. The NIS will never be tainted by politics again.
All of you have done a great job so far. However, there is still a long way to go.
Our goal is to prevent it from gathering political information and meddling in domestic politics and to focus its capacity on collecting information related to North Korea and overseas interests. In this way, it will be able to clarify its status as the true national information agency with the best capabilities.
Achieving that goal cannot be left merely to the good will of a president. The plan needs to be institutionalized so that the NIS’s status does not change even when different administrations come to power. Regarding this matter, I hope that all of you will stand together so that an amendment to the National Intelligence Service Act will pass the National Assembly within this year.
The amendment is in no way intended to reduce your authority. As seen in the reform efforts to date, it is to develop the NIS into a world-class information agency that you yourselves and the people can be proud of.
With its even more enhanced capacity to collect information on North Korea, the new NIS will perform its role by competently responding to a crisis in times of crisis and substantively supporting dialogue in times of dialogue. As a competent security agency, it will play an essential role in the creation and protection of peace. With more improved capability to gather overseas information, it will protect the lives and safety of the people, guard the interests of the Republic of Korea, strengthen national competitiveness and contribute to economic prosperity.
As you have done so well so far, I hope you will be the principal agents for completing NIS reforms. I have faith in you. I believe that you will dedicate yourselves with loyalty to the nation and bring even greater passion than before.
I, as President, express my special thanks to you for the changes and achievements you have made together.