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