Fellow Koreans, naval officers and sailors from around the world,
Today, naval representatives from 47 countries are joining us at the International Fleet Review hosted by the Republic of Korea Navy.
Jeju Island has become a place of harmony and friendship for navies throughout the world. The waters of Jeju have become a symbol of cooperation for the sea of peace.
I wholeheartedly welcome delegations and naval forces that have weathered rough waves to come to the peace island of Jeju.
I am also deeply grateful to the islanders of Jeju and residents of Gangjeong Village for warmly welcoming navies from across the globe.
Naval officers and sailors,
Maritime history is a history of challenges and hopes.
The distant horizon has encouraged us to dream. We have unceasingly set our sights beyond the horizon. Our unknown ancestors set sail for uncharted territories in the Atlantic and South Pacific. Columbus embarked on a voyage to explore an unmapped land and ended up in a new continent called America. Amundsen set out to sail all the way to continental Antarctica and left his footprints on the South Pole.
We have encountered new lands, met neighbors and broadened the scope of our reach to the entire planet by sea.
Even at this moment, some of the average 190 million containers carrying goods annually are being loaded and unloaded at some 200 ports around the world. Korea also sees 99.8 percent of its traded items transported across sea lanes.
The sea is our life. We compete and coexist at sea. The sea is a common asset shared by all people around the world.
We are joining the International Fleet Review today because the sea represents our hope for the future. Because it is the source of life that we should protect and preserve together.
Naval officers and sailors,
The body of water off the Korean Peninsula is the Pacific. Though denoting great peace, this vast ocean was once engulfed in flames of war.
As the sea yields so much, it is never free from disputes over sovereignty and jurisdiction. Maritime crimes such as piracy and terrorist acts persist along with incessant conflicts surrounding the refugee issue.
However, the navies of many countries around the world have fostered their wisdom collectively for coexistence and cooperation. Together, they have stood up to new challenges. Their joint efforts have brought about peace.
In the waters off Somalia, multinational naval forces help drive pirates off and safeguard merchant and fishing vessels. They are also spearheading disaster relief and humanitarian assistance missions, so their hospital ships and auxiliary vessels crisscross the globe. In order to actively respond to maritime disasters, they continue to conduct joint search and rescue drills in the five oceans of the world.
All the naval personnel joining us here today from around the world are protagonists keeping the world's oceans safe. You are brave warriors defending the prosperity of humanity. I take this opportunity to pay my respect to your endeavors and dedication.
Today's International Fleet Review ceremony is a festival to widely publicize progress made by the world's naval forces and their commanding presence as well as forge friendships among them. I hope you will fully demonstrate the imposing presence derived from your protecting our seas.
My fellow Koreans and members of the naval forces,
The Korean Peninsula remains under an armistice. South and North Korea have now declared to put an end to military confrontations and initiated a journey for complete denuclearization and permanent peace. Though the route to peace is never smooth, the Republic of Korea will remain on this course to the end.
A prerequisite for reaching the final destinations of peace and prosperity is strong national defense capabilities. Among others, naval power symbolizes the national strength of an open and trading nation.
A maritime powerhouse is the future of the Republic of Korea. The Republic of Korea Navy is one of the strongest naval forces, having inherited the spirit of Admiral Yi Sun-sin. They pulled off a great feat by safely rescuing South Koreans kidnapped in seas off Ghana in April this year.
I will help further fortify the Republic of Korea Navy so that it will be able to contribute to peace not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in Northeast Asia and the world.
Strong national defense capabilities come from the trust of the people.
Jeju is an island of peace. It suffered considerable pain from ideological conflicts over a long period, but its peoples’ strong spirit helped sublimate resentment into reconciliation. It is also so beautiful that UNESCO listed the entire island as a World Natural Heritage site.
I offer my heartfelt sympathy to the residents of Jeju for the agony caused by the construction of a naval base here. I will do my utmost to heal the pain and wounds inflicted on the residents of Gangjeong Village.
I will make this naval base a foothold for peace, not a foothold for war.
When Jeju’s desire for peace is shared with these naval forces, the International Fleet Review will go beyond a festival of harmony and friendship among navies around the world and become a foundation of peace and prosperity for humanity.
On the occasion of the International Fleet Review this year, I ask the Navy to join with the people. I hope that this will be an opportunity for local residents and the Navy to seek mutual existence and become a milestone for a new International Fleet Review.
Fellow Koreans, men and women from navies around the world,
The Republic of Korea loves peace. The International Fleet Review today will become the sound of a foghorn proclaiming peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Naval officers and sailors from around the world will cheer the Republic of Korea Navy as it joins with them for peace on the Korean Peninsula and beyond.
I hope that all the sailors participating in the review will remain in good spirits until their vessels return safely to their home ports. I also hope that you all will be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery and culture of Jeju and experience the warmhearted nature of its people.
I am proud of the commanding presence of the navies from around the world. Let us now hoist the flag of peace high and embark on a voyage toward the Pacific.