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KOR

Minister

[Incumbent] Remarks by H.E. Cho Tae-yul Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea at a Luncheon in Honor of Nations that Participated in the Korean War June 25, 2024 ​

Date
2024-06-26
Hit
3238

Remarks by H.E. Cho Tae-yul

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea

at a Luncheon in Honor of Nations

that Participated in the Korean War

June 25, 2024



Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen.


It is a privilege to stand before you today as we mark the 74th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War.


74 years ago this very day, tens of thousands of North Korean soldiers poured across the 38th parallel, initiating North Korea’s invasion of South Korea.


Not long after the War broke out, this very city –Daegu—also became a critical battleground as part of the frontline defending the Nakdong River Defense Line.


The Republic of Korea was able to survive back then because it was not alone. Freedom and democracy have endured on the Korean Peninsula because the nations you represent –nations from every continent– were there for us in our darkest hour.


And today, Korea honors the 22 nations and their veterans that stood with the Republic of Korea during the War.


These 22 countries are:


The United States, Canada, Colombia from the Americas;

The United Kingdom, Türkiye, the Netherlands, Greece, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Germany from Europe;

Australia, the Philippines, Thailand, New Zealand, and India from Asia and Oceania; And from Africa, Ethiopia and South Africa.


From these nations, a total of 1.95 million men and women in uniform took part in the War --forty thousand of whom made the ultimate sacrifice. 


Yesterday, I visited the UN Memorial Cemetery in Busan and paid tribute to the 2,328 souls from UN nations interred there. I take this opportunity to once again express my deepest gratitude to all participating countries and their Korean War veterans.


The vibrant democracy and dynamic economy that we see today in the southern half of the peninsula would not have been possible without their precious sacrifice.


More than 70 years have passed since the Armistice.


There are two aspects worth highlighting today that have remained constant throughout those seventy years.


First, the United Nations Command and its member states have continued to play a crucial role in deterring North Korea’s aggression.


Established under UN Security Council resolution 84 in 1950 to repel North Korea’s invasion, the UNC remains to this day the paragon of international solidarity in defense of freedom and peace on the Korean Peninsula.


An oft-overlooked legacy of the War is the other Washington declaration that was adopted on the very same day that the Armistice Agreement was signed on July 27, 1953.


The 16 sending states whose militaries fought under one UN flag issued a Joint Declaration affirming that “if there is a renewal of armed attack,” the states will “again be united and prompt to resist.”


Today, the United Nations Command remains as relevant as ever in helping to address security challenges on the Korean Peninsula.


Second, North Korea’s unabating threat to peace and stability.


Pyongyang’s dispatch of balloons carrying filth and their jamming of GPS signals is the latest manifestation of North Korea’s ever-growing range of threats and provocations.


Those actions have caused real harm and endangered the lives of our people. There can be no freedom to endanger the lives of others. No one in their right mind hurls waste indiscriminately and calls it “freedom of expression” .


It is no wonder Pyongyang has yet to disclose those actions to its own people –the very people whose views are supposedly being expressed. Perhaps they were ashamed to let their people know how low they had to stoop.


Seoul has been calling on Pyongyang to return to the dialogue table, only to be met with a repudiation of one nationhood, rejection of the goal of unification, and a new label as its “No.1 adversary.”


Pyongyang’s quest to advance its nuclear and missile capabilities has been unrelenting. This year alone, North Korea has launched over 30 ballistic missiles including a so-called ‘military reconnaissance satellite’.


At the same time, the past year has also shown how North Korea’s threat is extending all the way to Europe through its military cooperation with Russia.


Pyongyang’s revitalized partnership with Moscow culminated in last week’s visit by the Russian leader to Pyongyang and the signing of Treaty on Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.


It is an absurd exercise in hypocrisy to claim that their military cooperation is predicated on a preemptive attack from the outside. After all, it is those two countries that have a history of initiating wars of aggression: North Korea in 1950 and Russia in 2022.


We were reminded of Soviet complicity in North Korea’s invasion when the Russian leader recently stated that “Soviet pilots made tens of thousands of combat flights during the Korean War.” Now they are adding to that history the dubious distinction of openly disregarding multiple UN Security Council sanction resolutions.


The Republic of Korea will work closely with the international community to firmly address any action that violates Security Council resolutions or threatens our security.


To counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats and maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, we will further strengthen Korea-US extended deterrence and Korea-US-Japan trilateral security cooperation.


The port call by the US aircraft carrier USS Roosevelt in Busan is a visible demonstration of the US commitment to Korea’s security. I very much appreciated the warm hospitality that was extended to me during my visit to the ship yesterday.


I’m sure no one here needs any reminding that North Korea’s development of its military capabilities comes at the expense of the human rights of its own people. We would not be doing right by our fellow Koreans in the North if we dithered in pursuing our goal of bringing freedom and improving human rights in North Korea.


The Republic of Korea will continue to pursue a free and unified Korean Peninsula and we greatly appreciate the support from the international community in these endeavors.


I hope you’ll forgive me for having dwelt so long on North Korea just before food is being served.


Let me close with the words inscribed on the Korean War Memorial in Washington DC – words that touch me to the core every time I read them: “Our Nation Honors Her Sons and Daughters Who Answered the Call to Defend a Country They Never Knew and a People They Never Met.”


Their noble sacrifices have not been in vain.

Today, having secured its democracy and grown its economy countless times over at home, Korea is actively seeking to assume greater roles and responsibilities to serve freedom, peace and prosperity for others around the world.


I wish to thank your nations and your veterans once again for helping to make all of this possible.  


Thank you. /END/