Your Excellency President Emmanuel Macron, First Lady Brigitte Macron and distinguished guests,
I am grateful to you all for your warm welcome to me, my wife and our delegation. I am very pleased to be able to meet representatives from all walks of life in France in this beautiful city of Paris.
This is my second meeting with President Macron. We were elected presidents at approximately the same time. We also aspire to similar values.
Just as President Macron said, we have a lot in common, like twins. I seem to enjoy more benefits from this comparison as I am older than he is.
Today, President Macron and I had in-depth, candid discussions.
Our conversations covered not only bilateral relations but also extended into inclusive social policies, growth strategies and such global issues as climate change.
Importantly, I was greatly inspired by the poverty eradication and healthcare policies recently announced by President Macron personally. I believe his resolve to bolster education and welfare for children and to end the vicious cycle of intergenerational inequality will absolutely lead to successful fruition.
I express my respect for the leadership of President Macron who is tearing down an outdated ideological framework and moving forward to benefit the people exclusively.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
France and the Republic of Korea are long-standing friends and comrades.
In the early 20th century when Korea lost its sovereignty, its independence activists found a shelter here in Paris. The Provisional Government in Shanghai, which began in the former French concession in China, is the root of the Government of the Republic of Korea. During the Korean War, over 3,000 young French soldiers shed blood together to safeguard freedom and life.
I extend my sincere appreciation to the French Government and its people for having demonstrated the spirit of liberty, equality and fraternity through their deeds.
Holding onto their gratitude for France, many people in the Republic of Korea still care for the country. They want to learn its culture, arts and knowledge.
Reading Charles de Montesquieu's works, they ruminate on the genuine significance of the law, and they vividly grasp the power of the citizens who led the changes of the times in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables.
Above all, I myself find the greatness of France in its tolerance and harmony.
After the end of the Second World War, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed establishing an economic community together with the hostile nation of Germany. France exercised a bold imagination to unify divided Europe. The following year, the European Coal and Steel Community came into being with the participation of six European states, turning France's imagination into reality.
Now, 68 years later, Europe is achieving peace and prosperity as one community.
During the past year, the Korean Peninsula has been creating a miracle through the spirit of tolerance and harmony as France has. South and North Korea have ended military confrontations and embarked on a journey toward complete denuclearization and permanent peace. A second historic North Korea-U.S. summit is also awaited.
In August, I proposed the creation of an East Asian Railroad Community to six nations in Northeast Asia, which will include the United States. I hope that a railroad community will succeed in Northeast Asia as well and pave the way for achieving economic cooperation and multilateral security cooperation.
It is never an easy path, but if France, which played a leading role in European integration, lends support and encouragement, the Korean Peninsula will be able to accomplish peace and contribute to the integration and prosperity of Northeast Asia.
Once again, I express my gratitude to President Macron and the people of France for giving unwavering support for the Korean Peninsula’s efforts for peace.
Reflecting on the spirit of liberty, equality and fraternity, I propose a toast for eternal friendship between France and Korea and the future peace and prosperity that our two countries will carve out together.