Welcoming Remarks for 2019 Korea America Friendship Night

Honorable Park Jae-min, Vice Minister, Ministry of National Defense,
General Choi, Byung Hyuk, Deputy Commander of ROK-US Combined Forces Command, and his lovely wife,
Major General Stephan Williams, and his lovely wife,
Mr. Mitchell R. Moss, Minister Counselor for Public Affairs, U.S. Embassy Seoul,
Distinguished guests from U.S. Embassy,
Recipients of the Korea America Friendship Society Awards and Exemplary USFK service members,
Our active event sponsors,
Proud members of Korea America Friendship Society,
Ladies and Gentlemen!

Let me first express my sincere gratitude to everyone for taking the time out of your busy schedule to attend tonight’s event.

The Korea America Friendship Society has been hosting the Korea America Friendship Night successfully every year, referred to as ‘June Festival’, lest we forget the Korean War and to comfort the U.S. service members who has been doing their best to keep the freedom and peace on the Korean Peninsula, and to strengthen our resolve of the ROK-US alliance.

Ten days later we will again commemorate the 69th anniversary of the Korean War, and current situation on the Korean Peninsula remains unstable, just like a camouflaged peace but tension, because North Korea continuously objects to denuclearize. Therefore further solid and robust ROK-US alliance is even more critical than ever.

Under such a significant circumstances, I strongly believe that we are very fortunate and it is truly a blessing for Korean people that we are having Ambassador Harry Harris and General Abrams, Commander of ROK-US Combined Forces Command/United States Forces Korea with us who have exceptional leadership and special affection for Korea.

Ambassador Harry Harris served as the Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, which restructured recently as the USINDOPACOM before coming to Seoul as an Ambassador, and he has full Knowledge of the strategic importance of Pacific area, particularly on Korean peninsula and has a clear vision to deter war on the Korean peninsular. So I am confident that he is the most qualified Ambassador to Seoul. I already assured it through the in-depth dialogue with him when I visited to his office when he was the Commander of US Pacific Command and I was the Chairman of the National Defense Committee of the National Assembly then, So I again, would like to commend and pay respect to him.

Also, I would like to recognize General Robert Abrams, Commander of the ROK-US Combined Forces family whole dedication themselves to the peace of the Korean peninsular and give infinite confidence to him and courageous leadership. And I am convinced that he will carry out his important mission successfully with the strongest and utmost ROK-US combined readiness posture.

He is a member of the Abraham’s family whose father, brother and himself have contributed to the peace of the Korean Peninsula with deep affection for Republic of Korea, so the US military is very much proud of him.

General Choi, Byung Hyuk, Deputy Commander of ROK-US Combined Forces Command, served as the commanders of elite Division and the Corps of ROK Army. As he graduated from U.S. Army War College, Carlile Barracks Pennsylvania, and served the key post at the ROK-US Combined Forces Command, he is known as the best expert on combined operation. I am confident General Choi and General Abrams will make a perfect duo in making and demonstrating the vigilant and unbeatable combined readiness posture.

There is an old saying in Korea, “No single weak subordinate can be under brave General” like in English “A good general will make good men.” I am certain that ROK-US combined warriors are truly the strongest one in the world trained under and by the exceptional leadership of Ambassador Harry Harris and General Abrams, who are part of this historic legacy and tradition of the ROK-US alliance.

Ladies and gentlemen, At this juncture Why don’t we give them the warmest round of applause.

Tonight, we are gathered here to strengthen our alliance and our friendship. At this meaningful opportunity, let us promise each other to do our best to promote the robust ROK-US alliance and friendship. And please enjoy the meal, the performance, and let’s heat friendship up.

Before concluding my speech, I would like to recognize preparation committee chairman Chung Eui Sung’s devoted efforts, and special thanks to the members of Korea America Friendship Society and everyone who actively sponsored for tonight’s event.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I solicit your warmest round of applause to chairman Jung and all the sponsors to express our appreciation, and again to cheer up USFK warriors.

We go together! Let’s go together!
Thank you very much!

Commemoration Remarks for Korea American Friendship Night

Good Evening, I am the Vice Minister of the Ministry of National Defense Park Jae-Min.

Firstly, I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to President Hwang Jin Ha, the members of the Korea-America Friendship Society and distinguished guests for participating in this event with their deep interest in the ROK-U.S. Alliance.

The ROK-U.S. Alliance made great contributions to not only the defense of the ROK but also to its development of free democracy and economic prosperity. In particular, the dynamic changes to the security environment around the Korean Peninsula that we had witnessed over the past year was possible only because the robust ROK-U.S. alliance have been supporting the diplomatic efforts to achieve complete denuclearization and permanent peace on the Korean peninsula in the military domain.

As it stands, the two Koreas are faithfully implementing the Agreement on the Implementation of the Historic Panmunjom Declaration in the Military Domain also known as the CMA. The CMA strives to lay the groundwork upon which denuclearization and peace may be established on the Korean Peninsula by embodying the Armistice Agreement of 1953 through inter-Korean confidence building measures and prevention of accidental conflicts. As per the CMA, the two Koreas ceased all hostile acts in land, sea, and air as of November 1st, 2018.

The two Koreas executed the pilot withdrawals of 11 GPs each in the DMZ and completed mutual verifications. Furthermore, the demilitarization of the Panmunjom Joint Security Area was completed with the removal of firearms and installations of joint patrol posts. Furthermore, mines were removed and an inter-Korean road was laid last year for the Joint Remains Recovery in the Demilitarized Zone. As of now, pilot remains recovery operations are taking place on the southern side of the Arrowhead heights as preparatory measures for the Joint Remains Recovery that will follow.

I have conviction that the aforementioned measures will substantively contribute to the alleviation of military tension and establishment of permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Admittedly, North Korea did fire short range missiles in two separate occasions of late.

However, the North Korean position of staying faithful to the CMA and maintaining the denuclearization conversation momentum remains changed.

Of course, achieving denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula will be by no means an easy task. To say that progress and success will depend on an unwavering and steadfast ROK-U.S. Alliance is an understatement.The ROK-U.S. Alliance will continue in the future, as it has done so devoutly until now, to serve as a linchpin in preserving and establishing permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula through its complete denuclearization.

The coordination between the ROK-U.S. authorities is more robust now than ever. Minister of National Defense Jeong Kyeongdoo and Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan repeatedly reaffirmed the common goal of supporting the diplomatic effort to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula while maintaining a steadfast combined defense posture through their frequent phone calls as well as their two Ministerial Meetings in April and in June.

Etched at the bedrock of the ROK-U.S. alliance are the exemplary efforts displayed by the winners of the Korea America Friendship Society Award and all other service members of our great two nations in all their expertise and station alike.
I would like to devote this moment to them and extend my deepest gratitude.

Finally, I would like to thank once more President Hwang Jin Ha for inviting me to this meaningful event as well as all the distinguished guests for their participation. My wishes go to the Korea America Friendship for its perpetual growth and with hopes that it continues its central role in developing the ROK-U.S. Alliance.

Commemoration Remarks for Korea American Friendship Night

Mitchell R. Moss
Minister Counselor for Public Affairs, U.S. Embassy Seoul

President Hwang,

Vice Minister Park,

General Choi,

General Williams,

Ladies and Gentlemen, 안녕하세요!

Ambassador Harris sends his regrets in not being with us tonight, and he sends his best wishes and thanks for all the great work that Korea America Friendship Society does.

And I have to ask for your indulgence because Ambassador Harris, in addition to all the very complimentary things that President Hwang said about him, he is smarter, better looking, and a lot funnier than I am. But I’ll do the best I can.

I would also like to commend the service and dedication of the military officers who received the awards tonight. In addition to serving their colleagues and communities, these awardees devoted their lives to protecting and promoting US-ROK alliance, and we are deeply grateful for your service.

Ours is an alliance that serves as the foundation for peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula, and as a cornerstone for security and stability in the region. 6 years ago, we concluded the US-ROK alliance ‘환갑,’ which of course was our 60th anniversary.

Forged in the crucible of war, hardened by blood spilled together in the pursuit of freedom, our alliance has stood the test of time over more than six decades. And will continue to thrive for generations to come. As long as we nourish it, invest in it and remain committed to it.

Let us not forget the other partnerships between our two countries: economic, social, academic that our military alliance made possible. Later this year, we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Korean American Educational Commission, our Fulbright Commission, which have given scholarships to over 7,000 Fulbright Scholars from Korea and the United States have created multiple generations of leaders, academics, politics and business.

This year we will also celebrate the 230th anniversary of the Department of State. Having served as a diplomat for the past 20 years, I can credibly tell you that you cannot have a stronger embassador from President Trump to the Republic of Korea than Ambassador Harry Harris.

As a loyal ally, do you want to hear a quick story? Those of you who have served for Ambassador Harris knows what it is like. But, I had the honor of accompanying him to Lake Charles for the opening of Lotte Petro Chemical Plant there, which represents 3.2 billion Dollars in Korean foreign direct investment in the United States. The weather was terrible. All the flights from Dallas to Lake Charles were canceled. I’d wound up driving the ambassador for 6 hours in the dragging rain to Lake Charles.

I’m a diplomat, we get things done. But, we don’t always think in terms of reserves. So, we had enough gas to get to Lake Charles in my estimation, but we didn’t have enough gas to get to be stuck in a massive traffic jam in a long bridge to get to Lake Charles. He sees that I’m getting nervous and asks “Mitchell, what’s going on?” I said “Sir, I’m afraid I might be known as the guy who ran out of gas with Ambassador Harris in the bridge to Lake Charles.

Many of you Know that the Ambassador started out as a P-3 pilot. He returned to me and said “We were clearly not aviators but luckily we were not in a plane.” That’s the kind of lead he is.

As a loyal ally and partner in the region, the United States support President Moon Jae In’s effort to build South Korea to even a more powerful country that can contribute to the regional peace and prosperity.

We are hopeful that we will have the opportunity to expand our partnerships together even further, to fully realize the mutually beneficial objectives outlined in the U.S. free and open Indo-Pacific Strategy and South Korea’s New Southern Policy.

Working together, we can unlock private investment and infrastructure that keeps sea lanes and airspace free, open and secure. Working together, we can safeguard the values and principles that we had fought so dearly to preserve. And working together, we can ensure that emerging technologies such as 5G are deployed to the maximum benefit of our peoples, and our critical infrastructure remain safe and secure. So, I told you that I wasn’t great as Ambassador Harris. I’d gone on too long.

Let me conclude by thanking the Korea America Friendship Society for their tireless efforts to host such a wonderful event every year. To the awardees, again congratulations and thank you for your efforts to maintain, to grow the great friendship between our two countries. Each day, thanks to your commitment and the commitment of everyone in this room, our two countries can remain focused on creating a better future.

같이 갑시다!

 

Commemoration Remarks for Korea American Friendship Night

Good Evening. I am CFC Deputy Commander, General Choi Byung Hyuk. First I would like to thank President Hwang, Jin Ha and members of Korea America Friendship Society for hosting magnificent event for ROK US Alliance. Also, I would like to thank distinguished guests for your valuable prepense on this beautiful night as the name of ‘friendship’.

I would like to express my gratitude to ROK US service members for carrying out their given mission all around Republic of Korea at this moment.
Especially, I would like to sincerely congratulate 4 personnels including Captain Elaine Clines for being awarded with ‘Korea America friendship award.

As you all know, Korea faces “historical grand turning point” which will shine in five thousand years of history. We have started perilous yet great journey for settling everlasting peace on Korean Peninsula.

In 2018, Both leaders of ROK and North Korea agreed on complete denuclearization and everlasting peace on Peninsula through Panmunjum Declaration and Pyongyang Joint Declaration. Leaders of United States and North Korea promised their cooperative efforts on denuclearization on Peninsula and world peace through “Singapore Summit”.

Our Military prevented armed conflict on Peninsula through CMA, conducted various activities on fulfill basic principles of Armistice Agreement. As a result, we are baring substantive fruits to de-escalate Military tensions and establish trust such as “JSA demilitarization”, “Inter Korea Joint Remains Recovery”, “DMZ Road to Peace”.

“Adversity teaches you true friend”. ROK US alliance is the most successful and strongest alliance and friend in the world today as we have overcame many hardships during past 70 years.

Therefore, we are gathered here today to remember effort of ROK US service members who tried to enhance peace on Peninsula and brotherhood of both Seoul and Washington.

I would like to thank ROK US men and women in uniform for faithfully executing their mission at Freedom’s Frontier at this very moment and to the recipients of “Korea America Friendship Award.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, please give a round of applause to our friends, ROK US service members. (Clap!)

Thank you for your applause. On the strength of your support I promise that all CFC members will support diplomatic efforts based on robust combined defense posture and will contribute to complete denuclearization and settle permanent peace on Peninsula.

Lastly, on behalf of all CFC members, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to president Hwang and members of the society for being stout supporter of ROK US alliance for last 28 years. I wish boundless development of Korea America Friendship Society and bright future of the Alliance. I thank all of you for your valuable attendance to honor our friendship. Thank you. Wo go together!

Winners Korea America Friendship Society Award 2018

PFC Emily Lopez (U.S. ARMY)

PFC Lopez, 6-52 Air Defense Artillery Battalion Command Group Driver, led the effort to strengthen and enhance the relations between the Soldiers of 6-52 ADA BN and the citizens of Suwon and nearby areas by offering her support and dedication through the unit. PFC Lopez helped in the facilitation of a meeting between the Battalion Command Team and city council members including the Mayor of Suwon, discussing ideas on how 6-52 ADA BN can continue to assist in supporting the community of Suwon. This meeting established increased trust and laid down the groundwork for future cooperation between the unit and the local population.

PFC Lopez was a participant in the 8A KATUSA friendship week and continues to be an immense supporter of the KATUSA program by supporting similar events and to include those with Korean Airmen on the local Air Base. PFC Lopez participates in Korean-English language classes and culture exchange programs. She has been an example for her peers and leaders alike in these efforts. Her open mindedness and willingness to learn the local culture is a model for others to follow. As PFC Lopez continues in her tour, she has become a go to Soldier for those seeking to experience the local culture. PC Lopez constantly pushes for the growth of friendship programs and building comradery and cohesion between US and ROK Soldiers.

IT2 Marcus Foster (U.S. NAVY)

IT2 Marcus Foster of Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea led the efforts in coordinating, tracking and maintaining oversight on a major network expansion project combining both U.S. and ROK Navy directorates. He was an outstanding ambassador as he worked closely with ROK Navy Sailors in understanding the U.S. Navy processes for managing such a convoluted project. He maintained daily communications with ROK Navy Sailors in the coordination and validation of space allocation and additional support requirements for a $12,000 project. His efforts enabled a closer working relationship providing a venue to share time critical information with the ROK Navy resulting in further strengthening the alliance and bond between the U.S. and ROK Navy’s by allowing the U.S. N5 and N9 directorates to work side-by-side with their ROK Navy counterparts. IT2 Foster’s initiative, understanding and excellent representation of the unit and the United States Navy greatly improved the relations between the U.S. and ROK Sailors on base.

Capt Elaine Clines (U.S. AIRFORCE)

Captain Elaine Clines has contributed significantly to improve relations and strengthen the alliance with our Korean partners. While riding on a local subway, she noticed a local citizen in distress while having a seizure, partnered with a coworker and provided basic life support, stabilizing the individual until care could be transferred to local EMS officials. In addition, while working with the 51FW Innovation Engine, she is partnering with a local business to award a contract to update all of the chemical equipment bags used on base. Furthermore, through her local Korean church, she directs the Cubbies program teaching English and playing games with local children ages 2-4. Finally, she has a significant and ongoing relationship with a local orphanage. She organized the squadron Christmas event, participated in the National Children’s Dental Health Month education program and volunteers on a nearly weekly basis. Altogether, Capt Clines has devoted over 50 hours to the community. These ongoing efforts have had significant impact on the local community and helped to improve community relations at Osan Air Base.

Sgt Jacob Fuller (U.S. MARINE CORPS)

Sgt Fuller is an extremely motivated and dedicated Marine. During his time at Camp Mujuk, Sgt Fuller has taken on the responsibilities of Training Chief due to a gap in personnel, this billet is typically held by a Staff Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO). Without hesitation Sgt Fuller took on all duties associated with that billet to include but not limited to; maintaining training records for over a dozen areas, monitoring over thirty-five fitness tests, and scheduling unit training.

Sgt Fuller is the only Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Defense Marine for the entire installation. He has improved the program greatly in regards to the equipment, training, and overall readiness of the unit in a CBRN environment. His actions have greatly improved the operational sections ability to meet the units training requirements.

Sgt Fuller has volunteered for and is currently serving as the President of the Single Marine Program (SMP) for Camp Mujuk. During his tenure as the president of the council he has helped schedule five separate SMP events. Sgt Fuller has also committed his personal time volunteering every Monday and Sunday evening conducting English class for the Nambu Fire Station and Bethlehem Church, which comes out to a total of thirty-six English lessons between the two classes. He has also volunteered for several other community relation events, such as the Halloween trick or treat event at Ocheon High School, Children’s Day with Pohang City’s Dream Start and a Marine Experience Day Camp. His direct involvement has helped to greatly improve community relations between the Pohang population and the Marines of Camp Mujuk. Although Sgt Fuller has only been at Camp Mujuk for eight months he has already proved to be an invaluable asset to Camp Mujuk.

Commemoration Remarks for 2018 Korea America Year End Friendship Night

Good evening ladies and gentlemen,
This is Han Chul Soo, President of Korea America Friendship Society. Before beginning my welcoming remarks for tonight’s event, I would like to express my deepest condolences and pray for the repose of the late George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States, passed away on November 30, 2018.

Ambassador Harry Harris,
General Robert B. Abrams, Commander of ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command, and Mrs. Abrams, Distinguished guests from U.S. Embassy to Korea and ROK-US Combined Forces Command staffs, Our active event sponsors and members of Korea America Friendship Society, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Tonight we have a very special event for Korea America friendship night to be in honor of Harry Harris nominated as U.S. Ambassador to Republic of Korea on June 28 and to welcome General Robert Abrams assigned as Commander of UNC/CFC/USFK on November 8 of this year.

Ladies and gentlemen,
The situation surrounding Korean Peninsula has been shaking sharply and unprecedentedly fluid by two inter-Korean summits and US-North Korea summit in Singapore etc.

I am very glad and have a deep confidence on Ambassador Harris and General Abrams who know North Korea’s strategy to South Korea and the importance of ROK-US alliance well and can prepare for the possible change of situation with ability, experience and knowledge in this serious time, and our people have good hopes for their great roles for our country.

First of all, I would like to introduce Ambassador Harris an outstanding maritime strategist.

After graduating from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1978, Ambassador Harris served as major commanders and staffs in various units including the U.S. 6th Fleet. He was the first Asian-American to hold four-star rank in the U.S. Navy and commanded USINDOPACOM, which covers two thirds of the oceans surface, for 3 years from May 2015 to May 2018. His father, attending the Korean war, also has a special relationship with Korea.

Ladies and gentlemen, expressing our wishes for his successful service at the helm, please give a warm round of applause to Ambassador Harry Harris.

Next I would like to introduce General Robert Abrams, Commander of UNC/CFC/USFK.
General Abrams graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1982. He has risen from a noble U.S. service family which his father served as the U.S Army Chief of Staff, his two elder brothers retired as army brigadier general and army four star general respectively.

He engaged in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and commanded troops in Southern Afghanistan as the commander of 3rd Infantry division. Before he was assigned as ROK-US Combined Forces Command on November 8, he commanded the U.S. Army Forces Command, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, from Aug 2015 until October 2018, which is the largest unit and has the greatest strength in the U.S. army.

Please give a warm round of applause to welcome General Abrams and his lovely wife.

Ladies and gentlemen,
ROK-US alliance is a very special relationship. It is a bloodforged bond as tie that the two nations had fought shoulder to shoulder to keep liberal democracy in the Korean war caused by North Korea’s invasion in 1950 and developed and consolidated tie that had fought together in the wars of Asia and Middle east.

Especially, as many as 36,574 U.S. soldiers were killed in action 68 years ago in Korean war to protect Republic of Korea and its people they never knew and they never met.

Our people will never forget their noble sacrifice and help. They will remain forever as our heroes.

Ladies and gentlemen,
The ROK-US Combined Forces Command, marking the 40th anniversary of its activation on November 7 this year, is the axis of ROK-US alliance. It is a unique exemplary system around the world, composed of ROK-US combined system not only its headquarters but also its divisions and its subordinate units, sharing OPLAN and military doctrine, and the mutual confidence and cohesion between ROK-US soldiers is high through working and training together, so has the efficient interoperability of intelligence and operation.

And as the wartime OPCON is ideal system, making ROK-US OPLAN in the peace time to execute combined exercises and trainings based on it and by conducting RSOI operation efficiently to the U.S. high tech strengths and hunderds of thousands military personnels(army, navy, airforce and marine) which will be agumented in the wartime, it should neither be weakened nor changed until the favorable condition is made, such as creating a complete denuclearization in the Korean peninsula by removing North Korea’s nuclear threat, but we must continue to strengthen the alliance.

Ladies and gentlemen,
the 919 military agreement between South and North adopted in Pyeongyang inter-Korean summit in the past September 19, includes the contents that may possibly weaken the capabilities of our military surveillance, reconnaissance and early warning and nullify the NLL in the West sea.

Especially, as Seoul and metropolitan area, which is the heart of Republic of Korea’s politic and economy with the population of about 25millions people(half of Korea’s population)is located just 60kms far from Military Demarcation Line and has a narrow depth of defense, it is very vulnerable by North Korea’s surprise attack in the beginning of war.

And if North Korea launch a surprise attack to the Han River Estuary and Gimpo peninsula which will be fully opened to North Korea by the military agreement, there is a strong chance that all our people will be in put in chaos, it is the concern of many military experts and Korean citizens and they believe that the agreement should be drastically modified or nullified.

Our efforts for the peace and mutual survival of Korean peninsula should be based upon the premise of keeping the identity of Republic of Korea and solidated national security, so the South Korea’s security capability and the combined capability with the Unites States of our ally nation should never be weakened.

And we had undergone trial and errors many times in the process of various negotiations to remove the North Korean nuclear threat for a long time, including the Six-party Talks. We should make full denuclearization on Korean peninsula successful certainly in this time by analyzing the failed reasons of the negotiations thoroughly.

As General Abrams emphasized at his change of command ceremony, we have to continuously reinforce the ROK-US combined strength and prepare for the readiness posture all the time, with the spirit of “Fight tonight”, meaning we have to be ready to fight at any time,

In conclusion, I would like to say thanks once again for attending tonight’s event, despite your busy schedules at year end. And I hope that tonight’s event may contribute to promoting greater friendship between our two countries. I sincerely thank all the sponsors who have helped support this event. Especially, I would like to thank the members of the Year-End Friendship Night Preparation staffs.

As Christmas is coming, I wish our American friends who celebrate Christmas in Korea far away from their country a merry Christmas and happy new year. Thank you.

Together we go! (Kachi-kapshida)!

 

Commemoration Remarks for 2018 Korea America Year End Friendship Night

Good evening ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to first extend my most sincere welcome and thanks to all the distinguished guests attending tonight’s event, including Ambassador Harry Harris, the U.S. Ambassador to the ROK, and General Robert Abrams, the Commander of the R.O.K.-U.S. Combined Forces Command.

I would also like to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation to all US soldiers stationed in Korea and their families, for protecting our country and keeping the peace in Northeast Asia, and I would like to use this opportunity to again welcome General Abrams who has recently moved to Korea. Lastly, I would like to thank President HAN, Chul-Soo and all the members of the Korea America Friendship Society for organizing this wonderful event tonight.

2018 was the year when North and South Korea really begin to engage in serious talks. President MOON, Jae-In has already met with the North Korean leader, KIM, Jong-Un, and President Donald Trump has also had talks with KIM, Jong-Un at the Singapore Summit in June. While these events have led to growing expectations for peace, it will not be easy to bring an end to the tension in the Korean Peninsula, as it is all premised on North Korea giving up nuclear weapons.

The Korean people all yearn for peace between North and South Korea, but we are also dedicated to and actively participate in the cause of denuclearization and nonproliferation as demanded by the international community.

The Korean people are currently facing a lot of major changes ahead. While we do not know where these changes will lead us to, we are fully behind the Korea-US alliance and firmly believe that this alliance is the driving force behind peace in the Korean Peninsula. We still have the utmost trust and faith in the US, and will continue to do so for a very long time.

Ladies and gentleman,
We wish for the friendly and mutually cooperative relationship between the two countries to continue growing, going beyond just a military alliance and expanding into the fields of economics, diplomacy and foreign policy, and culture. The Korean people are very grateful to the US and the US Armed Forces for protecting our country during the Korean War, and we have not forgotten about all the support and aid provided by the US thereafter. Many of our young men and women have studied or are currently studying in the US as well. The US is our most important economic partner, and more importantly, our trusted friend and ally.

Ladies and gentlemen,
2018 is coming to an end soon. I wish you all the best to close out the year strong and have an even better new year filled with more happiness and joy.
Thank you very much.

Commemoration Remarks for 2018 Korea America Year End Friendship Night

Harry Harris
Ambassador, U.S. Embassy Seoul

So, thanks and howdy for that kind introduction. I have the honor of tonight of speaking before General Abrams, which is good for me and great for you all because you’re in for a great speech as soon as I get off the podium.

So, before I begin though, I would like to take the opportunity to recognize some of the luminaries in this distinguished audience. Ambassador Han Chul Soo, thank you very much for your remarks and thank you for acknowledging our 41st President George HW. Bush. Chairman Sohn Kyung-shik, General Abrahams, general Bills, distinguished Korea America Friendship Society members, and the dedicated members of the United States armed forces and guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure for me to be with you in this evening. I would like to start by thanking the Korea America Friendship Society for your iron clad commitment to the US-ROK alliance and all that you are doing to advance the peace and stability in the Korean peninsula.

Now, I apologize in advance if I had shared this story with some of you before, but I think it’s one that this crowd might appreciate.

So, a few months back, I hosted an event at my home here in Seoul, and met a young Korean American college student. And she said to me “Ambassador, I hear you had a distinguished military career. Did you fight in the Korean War? Now, I tried not to take this as a commentary on how old I look and told her that it was my father not me, that did fight in the Korean War in the Navy. But this does illustrate though, an important point, and the reason I’m telling this story. The point is that, as the Korean War recedes into history, it is also receding in the minds of our youngest generations, and we can’t let that happen, ladies and gentlemen.

So this year, as this audience knows well and has been said before, we are celebrating the 65th anniversary of the US-ROK alliance. An alliance that serves as the foundation of peace and prosperity in the Korean peninsula, and the cornerstone for security and peace in the region. Several events in the past months, including Veterans Day and opening of special exhibition at the Korean War Memorial have highlighted this anniversary, and our long shared history as allies.

So this is a good opportunity for me to commend the Moon administration’s decision to boost Korea’s annual defense budget by over 8% to 42 billion dollars. The largest increase since 2008, and an integral part of President Moon’s Korea Defense Reform 2.0.

We applaud and support the republic’s commitment to modernizing its defense forces. As you may know, the US and ROK teams are meeting this week, in our tenth round of negotiations for the special measures agreement. We look forward to a successful conclusion to these important talks. The ROK-US alliance benefits greatly from Korea’s contributions, including its advanced technologies that are capable in professional military organization, and highly developed economic infrastructures. The US appreciates the considerable resources the ROK provides to support this alliance but more can and should be done in my opinion.

Now, let me talk about North Korea briefly. Earlier this year President Trump and President Moon took bold steps to transform our respective relations with Pyeongyang. This has given us a unique opportunity to establish an enduring peace on the peninsula, and to achieve the final fully verified denuclearization of the North.
All of these efforts as a whole reflect a level of commitment on the part of both our administrations to achieve a lasting peace on the peninsula, and the final fully verified denuclearization of North Korea. The potential for positive change in the North is limitless if Chairman Kim were to fulfill his commitment to denuclearize. However, as President Moon himself has said ‘inter-Korean dialogue must remain linked with progress in denuclearization.

So, let me close with these thoughts. Our nations continue to draw our strength from those who have served in the past, and those who are serving today. And our nations’ will continue to draw strength from those who will serve tomorrow. An unbroken chain linking Americans and Koreans to generations to generation, keeping the scale of freedom tipping in mankind’s favor.

In the past 65 years, America and the ROK have had success, in fact great success in preserving our freedoms in providing security for our citizens. Today, now more than ever, the ROK-US alliance is essential. We cannot take it for granted. We must not take it for granted.

So, thank you for inviting me to speak with you this evening. I hope you continue the good work you do to promote peace and stability on the peninsula. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year, god bless all of you, and god bless ROK-US alliance, 감사합니다, 같이 갑시다, 같이 갑시다, thank god almighty. 같이 갑시다.

 

 

 

Commemoration Remarks for 2018 Korea America Year End Friendship Night

GEN Robert B. Abrams
Commander, UNC/CFC/USFK

Good evening, everyone.

Ambassador Harris sir, thank you for those inspiring remarks.
This alliance more than any other around the world for us benefits from Ambassador Harris’s vast regional knowledge, expertise and professionalism as well as his diplomatic team, and we are lucky to have him.

Chairman Sohn sir, I want to thank you for your continued support for being here tonight and all that you do for this alliance.

I also want to thank you General retired Han for his leadership, and for his powerful words this evening.

So all the other distinguished guests and members of the Korea America Friendship Society, thank you for hosting this evening’s event. It is my pleasure to celebrate the holidays with such committed supporters of the ROK-US alliance.

I’m joined here with my wife Cony, we are delighted to be here with all of you.

The dedicated efforts of the Korea America Friendship Society has greatly enhanced the ROK-US alliance by providing opportunities, to cultivate cross-cultural personel relationships and connections.

Korea America Friendship Society sponsoring of music concerts, seminars on Korea-America relations, and hosting social events with USFK personnels such as this one have been instrumental in strengthening the bonds between American service members and your Korean host.

Since 1991, the Korea America Friendship Society has focused on promoting ‘understanding and friendship’ between the citizens of two nations, and as this alliance moves forward your efforts will undoubtly continue to be critically important.

To our service members present tonight, to department of defense and civilian members, I want to thank you for you continued service in defense of this alliance.

This alliance is only as strong as the people who compose it, and no one can ever question our strength.

This is a relationship that was born 68 years ago in the crucible of ground combat with many shared sacrifices by those that came before us. This alliance has withstood every single challenge since then without fail.

My first 30 days as commander of Combined Forces Command, UN Command, and US Forces Korea, I’ve been assessing our units and I have been impressed with readiness of our combined forces.

While we will continue to preserve space for diplomacy to work, we will simultaneously continue to ensure that our force maintains its readiness.

The strong relationships built between Americans and Koreans throughout the history of this remarkable alliance. Those relationships will ensure that this alliance remains the cornerstone of security in Northeast Asia. With people like you, our friends and Korea America Friendship Society and our strong allies gathered here friendship tonight, guiding us into the future. I am confident that the future of the ROK-US alliance is stronger than it has ever been.

To the leaders and members of the Korea America Friendship Society, our friends, senior leaders of the alliance, thank you for all that you do in defense of this alliance. We wish you all the very best during this holiday season.

같이 갑시다. 감사합니다.

A miraculous reunion with my brother 68 years after his death

As soon as my brother heard of the outbreak of the Korean War on June 25, 1950, he told our family that he will join the United Nations Peacekeeping forces (division 7). His age at the time was only 19, a fifth grader at Gyeongnam Middle School. After a month of training in Japan, my brother returned to the military base in Busan. In October of that year, my brother visited home with his U.S military superior and four of his comrades. My mother prepared a meal and we all exchanged friendly conversations throughout the afternoon. Before heading north he took a photo with his colleagues; a photo that ended up being his last. All of us at the time had no idea that the afternoon spent together would be the last memories of my brother.

My brother headed north, past Incheon to the Jangjin Lake, where he fought against the Communist Chinese army. In early December, my brother died in battle, surrounded by 300 thousand Chinese soldiers in the cold of 40 degrees below zero.

Many families were damaged and broken as a result of the Korean War. Many were killed and injured. But in the mist of all the agony and terrible trauma, there were young soldiers willing to fight and sacrifice for world peace, for this country Korea that many have not even heard of. I want to express my utmost gratitude and condolences for the soldiers of our ally countries who participated in the Korean War.

Our family were informed of my brother’s passing, but my mother at the time was unable to accept the fact. Only after a long time has passed in 2012 were we able to report and confirm his death.

For 60 years the search for my brother was an unfinished and continuous task that stayed with me. Last year in 2017, I heard from a friend in Maryland that she saw an article in the local newspaper about a passing of one of the soldiers from my brother’s picture. I immediately flew to America in hopes of finding traces of my brother. While I was there, I met with the survivors and veterans of the Korean War in Washington D.C and visited the Korean War Veterans Memorial Park.

After 6 years of continuous efforts to communicate with the Ministry of National Defense, we were finally told on July 19th, 2018 that my brother’s grave has been settled in the National Cemetery under the unaffiliated section. It was 68 years after his death, and 61 years since his burial that I was finally able to find where my brother rests. Today my brother lies besides the grave of the first president of South Korea, Syungman Rhee. Moreover, the fact that my brother’s death was officially recognized on the anniversary date of our president’s passing gives me pride and comfort.

A long time has passed since his death, but being able to reunite with my brother was the blessing of God and a miracle that I am sincerely thankful for. I now know that our everyday is a gift of miracle.