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Briefing Room

Presidential Speeches

Presidential Speeches

Address by President Park Geun-hye on the 65th Armed Forces Day

Source : Cheong Wa Dae

Fellow Koreans, men and women in uniform, distinguished guests from home and abroad,

I join all Koreans in celebrating the 65th Armed Forces Day.

First of all, I pay my respects to the 195,306 fallen service members who have sacrificed their lives for the country since the founding of the Armed Forces. I am deeply grateful to the founders of the military, who laid the foundation for building our Armed Forces of today, as well as war veterans, reservists and retired soldiers.

I am also thankful to our servicemen and women for their hard work in defending the homeland on the front lines and in the rear at this moment. My appreciation also goes to the contingents of troops deployed in foreign lands far away from home, who are working hard and, as a result, promoting the nation's prestige.

This is a significant year as it marks the 60th anniversary of the Korea-U.S. alliance.

Special guests joining us at today's celebration are U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey. My thanks go to them and to the members of the United States Forces Korea, who are serving as an important pillar in protecting the security of the Republic of Korea alongside our Armed Forces.

Members of the Armed Forces,

When our Armed Forces were founded 65 years ago, the Republic of Korea was a newly independent country that was left with the deep scars of colonial rule.

When the Korea-U.S. alliance was forged six decades ago, the entire land of the Republic of Korea lay horribly ravaged by the Korean War.

Woefully under-equipped under awful conditions, our Armed Forces safeguarded the nation with blood and sweat and worked hard to lay the cornerstone for the modernization of the country.

Even as I speak, our Armed Forces are devoting themselves to solidly protecting freedom and peace in the Republic of Korea and the safety of the people along the 155-mile truce line and across the entire land as well as the waters off the Northern Limit Line in the West Sea and the East and South Seas.

I am proud of the vigor and energetic spirit of the members of our Armed Forces safeguarding the Republic of Korea.

Taking it a step further, our Armed Forces are dedicated to securing peace in many areas of conflict across the globe and also protecting the safety of Koreans in dangerous parts of the world, including the waters off Somalia.

Thanks to our Armed Forces safeguarding land, sea and air in a watertight manner, our people can go about their everyday lives with an easy mind and enjoy freedom even amidst the grave situation of division and confrontation. In addition, foreign nationals are making investments in Korea without anxiety.

I join all Koreans in taking great pride in the realization of the vision for a mighty and elite military active on the Korean Peninsula and in many parts of the world. This is what the founding members of the Armed Forces aspired to so ardently 65 years ago.

My fellow citizens and members of the Armed Forces,

The current security environment surrounding the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia is very grave. Adhering to nuclear development, North Korea has been gradually upgrading its nuclear capabilities.

Against this backdrop, it is imperative that the South builds a strong deterrent against the North until it abandons the nuclear programs and makes the right choice for the sake of its people and peace on the Korean Peninsula.

I believe that the genuine value of armed forces can be found not in waging war, but in deterring war. By quickly securing abilities to counter nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction, including through the Kill-Chain system and the Korean Air and Missile Defense system, while maintaining a strong ROK-US combined defense system, I will make sure that the North Korean regime recognizes that the nuclear arms and missiles to which it clings are no longer useful.

Only when watertight security that does not permit provocations is in place will we be able to lead the North to take the path of genuine changes while safeguarding peace.

I hope you will do your utmost to fulfill your duties with a renewed determination that the security of the nation now and in the future and the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula hinge on each of you.

I have confidence in your patriotism and loyalty.

My fellow Koreans and members of the military,

Since its founding, the Republic of Korea has continuously sought changes and innovations, thereby building the Korea of today in which we all take pride. The Korean Armed Forces too must accelerate efforts for change and innovation so as to emerge at a new level of development as a powerful and sophisticated military force.

The kind of strong military necessitated by the times is one that is innovative in its ability to adapt to change and creative in its active approach to addressing new threats. Our military must seek to become an advanced and high-tech intensive force, upgrading efficiency and transparency of defense operations through efforts for more innovative management.

Remaining wrong practices within the ranks must be corrected, and a leadership marked by sensibility and the ability to draw out the strengths of a new generation must be put into place – these too are important tasks before us. Proactive steps must also be taken to make proper consideration of the female members of our Armed Forces, whose number continues to grow with each passing day.

The key to strong combat power lies not only in quality weapons but also in a love for country, high morale and personal pride shared by all of you. The Government will therefore make every effort to improve service conditions and benefits so that all military personnel, regardless of the capacity in which they serve, can work with a sense of pride and deep fulfillment. Inasmuch as you all are working in service to your country, your country will never forget your toil.

Fellow citizens,

The strength of a united people is the best form of security. Especially at a time when peace is under threat, it is vital that we come together, holding in common a thorough understanding of national security and a deep love for this country.

I am confident that our Armed Forces will defend the lives and safety of our citizens, even at the loss of their own lives. These service members are our pride, and I ask that the Korean people give to them their unwavering trust and support.

On the foundation of solid national security, the Government will lay piece by piece the framework for peaceful reunification on the Korean Peninsula, and as we do, we will open a new era of hope and happiness for the people.

As President of the Republic of Korea, on this occasion of celebration for Armed Forces Day, I send my praise and my thanks to all of you who have safeguarded this country through the years with an enduring devotion.

I congratulate you once again on the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Armed Forces. I hope the spirit that is in all of you will shine brightly as a beacon of protection over all of our people.

Thank you very much.

Government Press Release published on October 1, 2013

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