President Clinton Welcomes Korean President Kim Dae Jung

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 9, 1998


The South Grounds

10:50 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I am proud to welcome President KimDae-jung, and the entire Korean delegation to the United States andto the White House.

We live in remarkable times. In the 1980s, some of thegreatest heroes of freedom were the political prisoners of repressiveregimes -- Lech Walesa in Poland, Vaclav Havel in Czechoslovakia,Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and Kim Dae-jung, who faced a deathsentence in South Korea after years of unjust and brutal treatment bythe government.

How very different things are now. Lech Walesa waselected Poland's President; Vaclav Havel and Nelson Mandela are thePresidents of their countries; and Kim Dae-jung is here today asPresident, after the first ever democratic change of power from thegoverning party to the opposition in the 50-year history of theRepublic of Korea. (Applause.)

The irresistible longing for freedom, human rights, anddemocracy has carried Kim Dae-jung to the presidency of his countryand now back to America, where he once lived in exile and where therehas long been strong bipartisan support for Korean democracy.(Applause.)

Mr. President, you have the admiration of the Americanpeople. We will work together to deepen democracy and economicopportunity.

President Kim has spoken of the powerful link betweendemocratic governments and market economies. In the 21st century,nations will not be able to sustain great economic power unless theirpeople are empowered, free to speak their minds and create their ownfutures; unless there is equal opportunity and the rule of law.

America strongly supports the economic reforms PresidentKim is pursuing -- opening markets, making financial institutions,businesses, and government more accountable. We will work with SouthKorea as it moves toward a full recovery and broader prosperity, withincreased trade and investment that will benefit both our nations.

Mr. President, your leadership will guide Korea'seconomic recovery, but so will your example. If one man can triumphover such great adversity, then surely the Korean people can surmounttheir current challenges. The American people, including more thanone million Korean Americans who contribute so very much to ourcountry, stand with you.

Let me also reaffirm America's steadfast commitment toour security alliance. We will continue working together for peaceand stability on the Korean Peninsula and across Asia.

As President, I stood on the Bridge of No Return, whereI saw the sacrifices made by American and South Korean troops toprotect freedom. I also saw the young North Korean soldiers on theother side and imagined a future where people from North and Southcould walk freely across that bridge.

We strongly support South Korea's efforts to find commonground with North Korea. The United States also will continue toparticipate with China in the four-party efforts to build a permanentpeace. (Applause.)

Let me conclude by saying something to men and women allaround the world who work to protect human rights: Your workmatters. You help transform nations and end tyranny. You savelives. Standing with me today is living proof -- Kim Dae-jung, ahuman rights pioneer, a courageous survivor, and America's partner inbuilding a better future for the world.

Today let us celebrate the freedom that has brought somuch hope to the end of the 20th century. But let us also strengthenour efforts to build even greater democracy and peace and prosperityfor all our children in the 21st century.

Mr. President, again, welcome to the White House andwelcome back to America. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT KIM: Mr. President and Mrs.Clinton, and distinguished guests, thank you for invitingmy wife and me, and for your warm welcome. I would also like toexpress the gratitude of Koreans to the American people for yourunswerving friendship.

After 50 years of consistent struggle for democracy, theKorean people won an historic victory by achieving the first peacefultransition of power from the ruling to an opposition party. I'maware that behind this victory was the message of hope for freedomand democracy sent by the American people.

As I faced 40 years of persecution from dictators andauthoritarian regimes, including death threats, imprisonment, housearrest, exile, and surveillance, the unwavering support from Americawas a source of encouragement and deliverance. Today the triumph ofdemocracy in Korea is also a victory for the democracy-lovingpeople of America.

Korea has begun a new struggle. It is a struggle towipe out the legacy of dictatorship that suppressed democracy and afree market economy, and to promote the simultaneous development ofthese two, so that we can overcome the current national crisis andjoin the ranks of advanced nations in the 21st century. (Applause.)With the support of the Korean people, I will surely succeed in thisstruggle. And that victory will be a role model for many of ourAsian neighbors.

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, I will never forgetthe support and encouragement you gave me last year when the foreignexchange crisis hit Korea. The day after I was elected President,you personally called me and extended your strong support. It was adeeply moving experience. It reminded me once again, a friend inneed is a friend indeed.

Throughout history and throughout difficult times, theUnited States has been an unwavering friend. You liberated us fromJapanese colonial rule. You helped us guard our nation against thecommunist aggression. You have given us on numerous occasionssupport and assistance.

For its part, Korea has been a faithful partner to theUnited States. We also did not spare our cooperation with the UnitedStates whenever it was necessary. Together we must protect thevalues of liberty, democracy, and peace, which our two nations havejointly nurtured. (Applause.)

I intend to raise a spirit of peace on the KoreanPeninsula by engaging North Korea in activities to promotereconciliation and cooperation, while maintaining a strong securityposture and coordinating our North Korean policy with the UnitedStates. I believe U.S. cooperation is crucial for the success ofthis policy.

Mr. President, under your fine leadership the UnitedStates is enjoying a stability and prosperity unprecedented inhistory, and a decisive influence on world affairs. (Applause.) Atthe same time, nations in Asia are experiencing uncertainty and painamid economic crisis. Never before has so much been expected of yourleadership. Korea, for its part, faces its worst economic crisissince the Korean War. And so eyes and ears of the Korean people arefocused on our meeting today.

I look forward to seeing great riches come from ourmeeting. It will give our people renewed hope. Our two nations mustdevelop a higher level of partnership, a higher friendship, sharingthe ideals of democracy and free market economy.

For the success of our meeting, I ask you and otherAmerican leaders for cooperation and support. Thank you.(Applause.)

What's New - June 1998

National Ocean Conference

Equal Pay Act

Family Re-Union Conference

Portland State University Commencement

Ocean Conference

South Asia

Thurston High School Remarks

National Ocean Conference

Presidential Scholars

Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act

ISTEA Legislation

SAVER Summit

Speaks to DLC

National Ocean Conference, Plenary Session

New Efforts to Protect Our Oceans

The Opening of the Thoreau Institute

Oceans Announcements

Fight Against Drugs

Welcoming Ceremony in Xian, China

Korean President Kim Dae Jung

Roundtable Discussion in Xiahe, China

President Kim of South Korea

Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act

21st Century Community Learning Grants

Pritzker Awards Dinner

Nominations of Bill Richardson and Richard Holbrooke

Remarks to Religious Leaders

Family Re-Union Media Advisory

Meeting With Economic Advisors

Conference Address

A Fair, Accurate Census

New Data On Teen Smoking

Roundtable Discussion Remarks

Landmark Agricultural Bill

Conference Remarks

Denver Broncos, Super Bowl Champions

Family Re-Union Press Release

U.S.-China Relations in the 21st Century

Roundtable Discussion in Shanghai, China.

MIT Commencement Address

Commencement Address to MIT Graduates

President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore
Record of Progress | The Briefing Room
Gateway to Government | Contacting the White House | White House for Kids
White House History | White House Tours | Help
Privacy Statement


Site Map

Graphic Version

T H E   W H I T E   H O U S E