The honorable Korean War veterans, their relatives and distinguished guests from home and abroad,
I am grateful to you all for coming and joining us here in spite of the hot weather. I was concerned about difficulties you might encounter on your way here, but I feel relieved to see you in such good shape.
The Republic of Korea is what it is today because you fought and won in the face of the ravages of war.
I was told that today is the first time Korean War veterans and their families have been invited to Cheong Wa Dae. It’s regrettable that I have only met Korean War veterans and their relatives at outside venues. It is truly meaningful for me to have you here at Cheong Wa Dae.
I hope today’s event will serve as an opportunity to share stories of veterans’ sacrifices and dedication with people from different countries and generations and to think about the value and history of patriotism.
The honorable Korean War veterans,
Even though the Korean War is heartrending history, the defeat of North Korea’s invasion allowed the identity of the Republic of Korea to be safeguarded, and the endeavors to rise above the ruins of the War achieved the Republic of Korea’s progress that we see today.
Someone’s precious sons and daughters and proud parents left their cherished hometown and loved ones and went off to fight.
Among them was volunteer student soldier Park Dong-ha. He fought together with his comrades-in-arms risking their lives at the battle of Arrowhead Ridge to protect the country. Even after 67 years, his fellow soldiers and other countless warriors still lie beneath the soil at Arrowhead Ridge. I am grateful to decorated veteran Park Dong-ha for reading aloud a touching letter sent to those who have never returned from that battle.
My Administration initiated an excavation in the Arrowhead Ridge area on April 1, which has unearthed the remains of 72 fallen soldiers and 33,000 related articles. The excavation will continue with the utmost respect so that every single soldier can be returned to the arms of his family.
Yoo Byeong-chu, who was in high school at the time, volunteered to fight as a student soldier though he received neither service number nor rank. Assigned to the Army’s 1st Independent Ranger Battalion, he participated in the Jangsa landing operation, ultimately dedicating himself to the success of the Battle of Incheon.
A total of 642 young students living in Japan at that time, including Park Un-wook, rushed to the battlefield in Korea to defend their country even though they were not obliged to do so. Many of them could not return. We call them the volunteer army of Korean students from Japan.
A while ago, in her interview, Asia Lee Campbell told us about the late Colonel Kim Young-oak, who is ranked among America’s 16 greatest war heroes. He was honorably discharged after highly decorated service during World War II, but he reenlisted and flew to his motherland when the Korean War broke out. He again distinguished himself here by playing a part in moving the central eastern section of the truce line northward by as much as 60 km. Following his retirement from the military, he devoted himself fully to developing the Korean community in the United States.
Once again, let’s give a round of warm applause to Asia Lee Campbell and Colonel Kim’s niece Dyanne Mary McMath.
Police officers also joined forces to safeguard their country in the face of the ravages of war. The late Assistant Inspector Im Jin-ha, who belonged to the police’s Hwarang Unit, fought together with members of the U.S. 1st Marine Division in the Battle of Jangjin Reservoir. Despite being severely wounded by seven pieces of grenade shrapnel, he came back to the battlefield to defend his country, a testimony to his unwavering patriotism.
Jung Tae-hee, his widow, is with us together here. Let’s give her a warm welcome through applause.
War veterans are the source of the Republic of Korea’s pride. Repaying their devotion and increasing the honor bestowed to them constitute one of the nation’s obligations and a duty for posterity.
Last year, my Administration drastically raised the honor allowances for veterans more than was done by any previous administration. To ensure that people of national merit are given the upmost respect until the very last moment, a presidential flag for condolences and a national flag for draping coffins are provided for their funerals.
When veterans pass away, their surviving spouses continue to receive the in-home welfare services previously provided to them. My Administration will not cease its efforts to ensure that the living war veterans and their relatives can live with more comfort and honor.
My Administration will also do all it can to take care of veterans and enhance public appreciation of their feats so that younger generations with us today will be able to usher in a future of peace while remembering their sacrifices and devotions as the invaluable elements of our history.
The honorable war veterans,
The Korean War is a chapter in history written by many righteous people from all over the world, who stood up together to the violence of war out of their love for liberty and peace.
During my recent tour of Northern European countries, I took to heart the noble love for humanity contained in the Republic of Korea’s freedom and peace.
Norway and Sweden dispatched medical support units and saved many precious lives during the Korean War. Even after the War, they remained in Korea and treated civilians as well as helped establish the National Medical Center.
In Norway, I paid tribute to the Korean War veterans memorial, and in Sweden, I attended the unveiling of a new Korean War veterans memorial. I expressed my gratitude to the dedication of those veterans and spent time solidifying friendship between our countries.
Sixty-nine years ago, 1.95 million young people from 22 countries around the world rushed to the Republic of Korea when the War broke out.
The United States was at the center: The country sent the largest number of military personnel and suffered the greatest losses.
The Government will build a "Memorial Wall of Remembrance" at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. to pay tribute to their noble sacrifices. Remembering the greatness of the ROK-U.S. alliance, Korea and the United States will jointly open an untrodden path toward permanent peace.
Now, the Republic of Korea has risen from the ruins of the War to become an economic powerhouse that ranks 6th in the world in terms of exports and boasts a per capita income exceeding US$30,000. Korea turned itself from an aid recipient to a donor country that helps people suffering from war, disease, underdevelopment and poverty.
The Republic of Korea will always remember the devotion of the 1.95 million heroes who came together under the U.N. flag. We will build a country that brings peace and prosperity to the people of the world who sacrificed their lives for freedom. Present here today are veterans of the U.N. forces from abroad. Let’s give them a big round of applause in special thanks.
War veterans and their family members, and distinguished guests,
Next year marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean War. On July 27, 1953, the gun smoke dissipated, but a complete end to the War had yet to be achieved.
I believe that creating a peaceful Korean Peninsula free from anxiety over another war is a way to repay the sacrifices and devotion of you veterans from home and abroad.
Korean War veterans must feel the preciousness of peace more keenly than anybody else. I hope that you will always be healthy and support the path toward peace, and stay with the Korean people for many years to come.
I extend my profound respect to all veterans who safeguarded the Republic of Korea’s freedom and peace and enlightened us about the genuine value of patriotism.