Seoul’s Prosperity Shows Success of U.S.-South Korean Alliance
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
SEOUL, South Korea, Sept. 30, 2013 You need only to look out from a hotel terrace here to see the worth of the Korean-American alliance, which marks its 60th anniversary today.
The streets are full of stylishly dressed people going about their daily lives. They are free to succeed and speak their minds. Late-model cars crowd the streets, and many of the streets have million-dollar visuals running the length of the blocks. It is a triumph of freedom after a war that killed millions.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye captured that in her speech celebrating the alliance. South Korea has become an economic powerhouse, she said, thanks to the security, stability and protection afforded by the U.S.-South Korean alliance.
“The Korea War that broke out 63 years ago was a tragedy that left an indelible scar upon out people,” Park said during a dinner honoring the alliance. “However, as the saying goes, friendship shines brighter in hardship, and for us, we had a dear friend -- the United States -- that helped us overcome such hardships.”
From the beginning in 1950, she said, Korean and American service members fought side-by-side in horrendous conditions “to protect freedom and democracy.” This was an alliance “forged in blood,” she added. The president expressed the deepest thanks of all South Koreans for the sacrifices of the American forces who took part in the war.
And the sacrifices have continued. Since Korean and American officials signed the pact that ended the fighting on the Korean Peninsula in 1953, generations of service members have stood together. “Even as we speak, the joint ROK-U.S. forces are protecting freedom’s front line and are strong partners in maintaining world peace,” Park said.
The alliance now must look ahead, the South Korean president said, and the alliance must open a new chapter that contains peace on the Korean Peninsula, Northeast Asian cooperation and prosperity in the global village.
“Currently, peace on the peninsula is once again precarious because of the North’s nuclear program,” she said. “As was confirmed in the U.S.-Korea summit meeting last May, under no circumstances would our two countries condone a North Korean nuclear program. And should North Korea make the wrong choice, we will answer resolutely.”
South Korea always is ready to have dialogue with North Korea, the president said. However, North Korea is mistaken if it thinks it can have a nuclear program and economic development at the same time, she added. The North must realize that only by joining a free society can it find the road to survival, Park said.
“I proposed a Republic of Korea road to reunification last May,” she said. “The ROK-U.S. alliance must play a key pivotal role in a reunified peninsula, Northeast Asian cooperation for regional prosperity, and as well, in peace and happiness of the common village.”
“Based on the common trust and freedom that out two countries pursue,” Park said, “it is my hope that we will be able to realize peace not only on the Korean Peninsula, but also the common goals of mankind, which are freedom, and human rights, as well as peace and prosperity.”