Fellow Koreans and members of the Armed Forces,
Over the past 70 years, our Armed Forces have safeguarded our territory and sovereignty with impenetrable readiness. Expressing gratitude to officers and all men and women in uniform for their dedication to service, I join all fellow Koreans in celebrating the 70th anniversary of Armed Forces Day.
We are now standing on the Peace Plaza of the War Memorial of Korea. Inscribed on this Plaza is the phrase “IF YOU WANT PEACE, REMEMBER WAR.”
We still remember the horror of war. For this reason, we need peace all the more desperately. Had it not been for the sacrifice and dedication of our Armed Forces, we would not have been able to take a single step forward toward peace.
Only because of the guardian spirits of those who gave their lives to defend the country is the Republic of Korea today possible. The retired military service members, military elders and United Nations Korean War veterans joining us here are the protagonists who helped usher in an era of peace while remembering war. I pay my profound respects to them.
Even at this moment, our men and women in uniform are fulfilling their assigned duties at home and in overseas deployments. I am truly proud of them and feel reassured. I compliment them in the name of the Korean people, and I am also grateful to their families.
My fellow Koreans,
Today, I am overwhelmed with excitement as I am able to discuss an era of peace by ending the threat of war on the Korean Peninsula.
Announcing the Pyongyang Joint Declaration on September 19, Chairman Kim Jong Un and I made clear that war would not come between the South and North and peace would be settled on the Korean Peninsula. Before 150,000 Pyongyang citizens, I promised a peaceful Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons and threats.
In spite of this, peace will not come all at once. We must not forget the fact that peace is sustainable when our strength serves as its foundation.
Now is the time for our military to stand at the forefront of peace on the Korean Peninsula. Peace through strength is the mission of our Armed Forces, and a genuine protagonist in an era of peace is none other than a strong military.
In just half a century, the Republic of Korea has built capabilities to manufacture fighter jets and tanks and is now armed with a 3,000-ton strategic submarine. Remarkable progress has been made in the national defense capabilities. Now, the Korean military is being reborn as Armed Forces that truly serve the people through intensive defense reform.
I have confidence in the potential of our Armed Forces. They will protect the lives and safety of the public from any kind of threat as well as build capabilities to operate and control military missions on land and sea and in the air on their own initiative. As reliable Armed Forces, they will accomplish peace without fail.
Officers and men and women in uniform,
Armed Forces that stand by the people are the strongest, and the key to a strong military is each and every member of the Armed Forces.
When our men and women in uniform are respected without any discrimination and feel proud of the nation and the military in a genuine sense, they will be equipped with courage and devotion.
Now our military shall become Armed Forces that cherish the sons and daughters of our people. Our Armed Forces shall be unmatched not only in combat strength but in terms of democracy.
Service conditions for members of the Armed Forces will be improved by making the military fairer and facilitating communication within. To prevent military service from disrupting social and career development, customized support will be provided to help secure employment commensurate with the duration of their military service. Recruitment of discharged service personnel as police officers, coast guard officers and firefighters will be expanded.
Medical support for the Armed Forces will be drastically improved. The number of childcare centers providing communal parenting and daycare centers will be increased in the military to guarantee a better childrearing environment. Special attention will be given to ease gender discrimination in the armed services.
If service personnel can cultivate their capabilities during military service, and make contributions as citizens of a democratic society after completing their service, our military’s patriotism will be further exalted.
Fellow Koreans, members of the Armed Forces,
We can prevail only when we join together. The military and the people have to join together, and the commanding officers and service members should join together. The army, the navy and the air force must join together with each other and with those of allied nations.
We can prevail only when we advance into the future. Admiral Yi Sun-sin triumphed in battles thanks to a new weapon, the Turtle Ship, and a new strategy, “the crane-wing formation” or hakikjin in Korean. Our national defense should be fused to the Fourth Industrial Revolution and leap forward toward smart national defense and a digitalized powerful military.
Now we are moving toward the era of peace. The path to become an honorable serviceperson will open up a new chapter in the history of the Korean Peninsula.
Our military has successfully carried out the mission of protecting the homeland, and it will unwaveringly safeguard the people as well. I have unlimited trust in our military personnel and will always stand with you.