November 07, 2017 Remarks by President Trump Before Operational Briefing at Camp Humphreys Camp Humphreys Republic of Korea 1:53 P.M. KST
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. I just want to thank General Brooks and everybody that is working with us so hard on the situation in South Korea. Terrific people. I had a choice of having a beautiful, very fancy lunch, and I said, no, I want to eat with the troops. And we ate with the troops. And it was good eating. It was good eating. And I tell you, they’ve done a terrific job. Very impressive. And we have a very strong schedule today and, actually, for the next nine days. As you know, we just got back from Japan where we had a very successful two days. Today will be pretty busy and tomorrow also. And then we head to China. And I look forward to that. There’s great cooperation. We have a terrific meeting scheduled on trade in a little while with President Moon and his representatives. And we will — hopefully, that will start working out, and working out so that we create lots of jobs in the United States, which is one the reasons — one of the very important reasons I’m here. In addition to that, we’ll be meeting with the various generals — General Brooks and the various generals — about the situation in North Korea. And I think we’re going to have lots of good answers for you over a period of time, and ultimately it will all work out. Because it always works out — has to work out. So I want to thank you all for being here. We appreciate it. Thank you very much. We’re going to see you in a little while. And I think about 4:30, we’re going to be separately meeting with you. But we appreciate it. I hope you had a good flight here. Many of you were on the flight with me, so I know it was pretty good. And I think you’re probably just as impressed as I am. This is a very impressive group of people, beyond facilities — people. These are very impressive people. So, General, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Thank you.
1:55 P.M. KST
November 07, 2017 Remarks by President Trump and President Moon of Korea Before Expanded Bilateral Meeting Blue House Seoul, Republic of Korea 4:06 P.M. KST
PRESIDENT MOON: (No translation provided.)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, thank you very much, Mr. President. And it’s an honor to be here with my representatives. And we’re going to have a very busy full day ahead.
It is interesting that it is one year, as of tomorrow, that we had our election victory. And it was great victory, and a victory that made a lot of people very happy. And our country is doing very well from the standpoint of the economy. It’s doing record numbers, record stock market, 17-year low. We have the lowest unemployment that we’ve had in 17 years. And we’ve created trillions and trillions of dollars of value for our country. So we’re very happy.
We’re now working on massive tax cuts for our people, especially our companies which produce jobs in our middle class. And I think that’s going along very well. We hope we’re going to be victorious and get that big tax cut which the American people want.
I had a great time at Camp Humphreys today visiting with the U.S. and the South Korean troops. They are very impressive. Thank you. And as we very easily remember, because it was so good — we had lunch together with the troops. And we had the option of having a magnificent restaurant, a beautiful room, and I said, let’s have it with the troops. And we were very happy about it. It’s a great facility — Camp Humphreys — and it really is a very special place. Tremendous cost — a lot of it spent by your government to make your country safe. And any time you spend wisely for the military, that’s always a good thing to do.
And your military is becoming very strong. Our military is now going to be, very soon, at the strongest level. We’re committed to spending $700 billion, and that number may even go up. For our military, we’re ordering new jet fighters, new equipment of virtually every kind. We make the finest equipment in the world, and you’re buying a lot of it, and we appreciate that. And you’ll be buying a lot of our military equipment. There’s nobody that comes close, whether it’s the planes, the missiles, the ships — anything you want to talk about — there’s nothing like what we do in that sense. And we appreciate your big purchase orders for military equipment.
The North Korea situation will be a discussion that we will have front and center. And hopefully something is going to be very successfully worked out on that. And trade is something that we always talk; it’s one of my favorite subjects. I guess it’s one of the reasons that I had that great, successful victory
last year, at this time. So we’ll be discussing trade also.
We’d like to do much more business with South Korea, where South Korea is going to order a lot more. But the good news is, you will be ordering. I mean, we’ve already worked on that. And through our representatives, the amount of equipment and things that you’ll be ordering from the United States will be very substantially increased and therefore we’ll be bringing the trade deficit way down, which is very important to our people. We have trade deficits with numerous countries, and we don’t want to have trade deficits. So we appreciate that very much. And what you’re getting is the finest equipment anywhere in the world.
So we’ll discuss North Korea, we’ll discuss trade, we’ll discuss other things, and I really was honored by that ceremony today. That was a beautiful, beautiful ceremony at the highest level. No matter where you’d go, you could never see that. That is just as beautiful as it can be, and it represented your country so well. And I just want to thank you for that. That was a real honor.
And it’s an honor to be with you, and I look forward to spending the rest of today and a good part of tomorrow on negotiating. We’ll negotiate some of those good deals, both ways. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
4:16 P.M. KST
November 07, 2017 Remarks by President Trump and President Moon of the Republic of Korea in Joint Press Conference | Seoul, Republic of Korea Blue House Seoul, Republic of Korea 5:20 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT MOON: (As interpreted.) I extend my heartfelt welcome to the visit by Your Excellency, President Donald Trump, and Madam First Lady to the Republic of Korea. His visit marks the first state visit by the U.S. President to Korea in 25 years. And President Trump is also the first state guest for myself and my government. This special bond forged between President Trump and myself, I find it very meaningful and I am gratified to be part of it.
President Trump and I met and communicated with each other numerous times, building deep trust and consolidating our friendship. Today we had candid discussions about steadfastness of ROK-U.S. alliance. Moreover, we agreed to work towards resolving North Korean nuclear issue in a peaceful manner and bringing permanent peace to the Korean Peninsula.
Against escalating nuclear and missile threats from North Korea, we reaffirmed our principle that we must maintain a strong stance toward North Korean threats based on overwhelming superiority of power. President Trump has reaffirmed his ironclad commitment to defend Korea, and President Trump and I agreed to further strengthen the robust combined defense posture of our two countries. In this regard, President Trump and I agreed to expend rotational deployment of U.S. strategic assets in and around Korean Peninsula.
We will step up our collaboration to enhance Korea’s self-defense capability to unprecedented levels. To this end, we reached a conclusion today to lift the payload limit on Korean missiles completely, with a final agreement. We also agreed to begin consultation for Korea’s acquisitions and development of Korea’s state-of-art military reconnaissance assets.
Once again, we strongly urge North Korea to halt its nuclear and missile provocation, and to come to a dialogue table for denuclearization as soon as possible. President Trump and I reaffirmed our current strategy, which is to maximize pressure and sanctions on North Korea until it gives up nuclear weapons and to come to the table for dialogue on its own.
At the same time, should North Korea choose to make the right choice, we also reaffirmed our view that we are willing to offer North Korea a bright future. Based on such common approach between our two countries, we will continue to lead efforts to bring peaceful and fundamental solutions to North Korean nuclear issues.
We will maintain close collaboration with the international community, including the neighboring countries. I sincerely hope that President Trump’s visit at this time will be a turning point for the situation on the Korean Peninsula in a stable manner.
Today, President Trump and I visited Pyeongtaek base, which is a symbolic venue for showing the future of ROK-U.S. alliance and also Korea’s contribution to the alliance.
As we gave our words of encouragement to Korean and American servicemembers while striving to realize our common goal, we could feel the strong friendship of Korea and U.S. alliance on the site. President Trump and I also agreed to continue strengthening of the combined defense postures and capabilities of the bilateral alliance by pursuing defense cost-sharing at an adequate and reasonable level.
Last, but not least, we reaffirmed that economic cooperation is an important pillar of ROK-U.S. alliance. We share the view that economic cooperation is a critical element in our efforts to pursue sustainable and future-orientated ROK-U.S. alliance.
In order to enjoy the benefit of free, equitable, and balanced trade together, we agreed to have the relevant authorities expedite the process of KORUS FTA consultation. By sharing the universal value and the fruits of economic prosperity with the humankind, President Trump and I agreed to make a joint contribution to the peace and prosperity of the world.
We also agreed to continue strengthening cooperation for global challenges, including issues of terrorism, women, human rights, and public health.
President Trump requested that I need to talk with him continuously, and we agreed that we will continuously have frequent and close communications. And by doing that, we’ll further strengthen the trust and ties between us, and also solidify the bilateral alliance.
Once again, I extend a warm welcome to President and Madam First Lady’s visit to Korea. Please enjoy the beautiful autumn weather and find deepening of friendship in our two countries, as well as our two leaders. Thank you. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much, President Moon. Thank you for honoring us with the invitation to be here today and for the incredibly warm welcome and magnificent ceremony you have given us during our first trip to the very beautiful city of Seoul. Thank you very much.
Melania and I had a wonderful time having tea with you and First Lady Kim — thank you — at the beautiful Blue House, which I’ve heard so much about, and I’ll get to visit and see firsthand. We’re looking forward to joining you for dinner this evening, and we have much to discuss.
Today, the President and I had an opportunity to talk about a range of vital economic and security matters, including our trade relationship and our joint efforts to solve North Korea’s grave nuclear threat to South Korea and, indeed, the entire world. This is a worldwide problem.
The Republic of Korea is more than a longstanding ally of the United States. We are partners and friends who have fought side-by-side in a war, and, really, worked very hard and prospered toward a great and lasting peace.
I feel confident that we’ll be able to reach a free, fair, and reciprocal trade deal as we renegotiate our current five-year-old trade document. We cannot allow North Korea to threaten all that we have built — and we have built it very much together, and we’re very, very proud of it, also, together — but all that we’ve built in the decade since our soldiers sacrificed side-by-side in the struggle for freedom. Our alliance is more important than ever to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and across the Indo-Pacific region.
That is why Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Tillerson, who is with us today, and Secretary of Defense Mattis, who was here just a short time ago, have all traveled to Seoul in the first year of my administration. It was very important to me that they did.
North Korea’s sixth test of a nuclear device and its missile launches are a threat not only to the people of South Korea but to the people all across our globe. We will together confront North Korea’s actions and prevent the North Korean dictator from threatening millions of innocent lives. He is indeed threatening millions and millions of lives so needlessly.
North Korea is a worldwide threat that requires worldwide action. We call on every responsible nation, including China and Russia, to demand that the North Korean regime end its nuclear weapons and its missile programs, and live in peace. As the South Korean people know so well, it’s time to act with urgency and with great determination.
All nations must implement U.N. Security Council regulations and cease trade and business entirely with North Korea. It is unacceptable that nations would help to arm and finance this increasingly dangerous regime.
As we work together to resolve this problem using all available tools short of military action, the United States stands prepared to defend itself and its allies using the full range of our unmatched military capabilities if need be.
The crucial U.S. security partnership with South Korea is just one aspect of our enduring alliance. We also share deep partnerships on a range of issues, from cultural exchange to cutting-edge advances in science and medicine, and the very important issue of trade.
Currently, we are looking at ways of improving our economic relationship. I would like to thank President Moon for instructing his trade negotiators to work closely with us to quickly pursue a much better deal — a deal that, frankly, has been quite unsuccessful and not very good for the United States.
In the more than six decades since we signed our mutual defense treaty, our alliance has grown stronger and deeper. Our two nations symbolize what independent countries can accomplish when they serve the interests of their people, respect the sovereignty of their neighbors, and uphold the rule of law.
Imagine the amazing possibilities for a Korean Peninsula liberated from the threat of nuclear weapons, where all Koreans could enjoy the blessings of liberty and the prosperity that you have achieved right here in South Korea.
I also want to congratulate President Moon and the South Korean people on hosting the Winter Olympics this upcoming February. It will be a truly spectacular event.
Mr. President, I want to thank you and First Lady Kim. And, I mean, it was just so special today. The ceremony was so beautiful. We very much thank you for it.
Together, our two nations will handle threats to peace and security, stand up to those who would threaten our freedom, and boldly seize the incredible opportunities for a better, brighter, and more prosperous tomorrow.
In good times and bad, in moments of great hardship and great success, our two nations can always count on the close bonds and deep friendship we share as free, proud, and independent people.
Mr. President, I look forward to the rest of our visit together, and I send the wonderful citizens of South Korea the best wishes from the people of the United States of America. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We have just heard from President Trump, and now would like to invite the questions from the members of the media corps.
So we would like to now ask the White House correspondents from the U.S. side to ask questions, and President Trump will respond. And then from the Blue House, there will be Q and A.
MS. SANDERS: The first question from the United States will go to Margaret Brennan from CBS.
Q Thank you, sir. Mr. President —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Which one? (Laughter.)
Q President Trump — I will have questions from both of you gentlemen. But, President Trump, you spoke here in South Korea saying that you do believe that the crisis with North Korea will be worked out. So, specifically, have you seen any success in your diplomatic strategy so far? And do you still believe that direct talks are a waste of time?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I think you know me well enough to know that I don’t like talking about whether I see success or not in a case such as this. We like to play our cards a little bit close to the vest.
I will say this — that I believe it makes sense for North Korea to do the right thing, not only for North Korea, but for humanity all over the world. So there is a lot of reason, a lot of good reason behind it.
With that, yes, I think we’re making a lot of progress. I think we’re showing great strength. I think they understand we have unparalleled strength. There has never been strength like it.
You know we sent three of the largest aircraft carriers in the world, and they’re right now positioned. We have a nuclear submarine also positioned. We have many things happening that we hope, we hope — in fact, I’ll go a step further, we hope to God we never have to use.
With that being said, I really believe that it makes sense for North Korea to come to the table and to make a deal that’s good for the people of North Korea and the people of the world. I do see certain movement, yes. But let’s see what happens.
Q And on direct talks, sir?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don’t want to say that.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I just don’t want to say that. You can understand that.
Q I do, sir.
Q And, President Moon, you, in your meeting earlier with President Trump, were spoken about by President Trump when he gestured to the military purchases that your country will be making. And I’m wondering, as you look towards that military build-up, if that signals something — perhaps a change in your view — where you believe a more aggressive stance towards North Korea is more appropriate.
PRESIDENT MOON: (As interpreted.) If I could have the question repeated again. Are you referring to the acquisition of the military assets, or are you referring to the military tensions that could be incurred?
Q President Trump said you would be making military purchases of military equipment. What does that signal (inaudible)?
PRESIDENT MOON: (As interpreted.) I’m not entirely sure which direction your question was, but I can say one thing: When it comes to the state of our reconnaissance assets and the strategy assets — on acquisition of this U.S. strategy assets, we have agreed to begin the consultations for Korea’s acquisition of such assets. And that is to enhance Korea’s defense capabilities and also the combined defense posture of Korea and the United States. I think it is essential.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Margaret, if I may add to that, that the President and I have agreed they’ll be buying a tremendous — which they want, and which they need, and everybody thinks it makes a lot of sense.
We make the greatest military equipment in the world, whether it’s planes, whether it’s missiles. No matter what it is, we have the greatest military equipment in the world. And South Korea will be ordering billions of dollars of that equipment, which, frankly, for them makes a lot of sense. And for us, it means jobs; it means reducing our trade deficit with South Korea.
But they’ll be ordering billions of dollars’ worth of equipment, and we’ve already approved some of those orders. Okay? Thank you.
Q I have a question for President Moon: Between Korea and the United States, I think one of the most important diplomacy challenges will be to work on — resolve the nuclear problem of the DPRK. And you gave a foreign press interview — you talked about bringing balance and diplomacy, and you talked about resolving nuclear problem and the close cooperation between Korea and the United States, and you talked about China’s role.
Are you referring to the balance between the U.S. — balance of Korea between U.S. and China, or are you referring to something else? And you have had a third summit meeting at the summit meeting you just had. You said that you have agreed to bring permanent peace to (inaudible) on the Korean Peninsula. And what kind of role are you expecting the United States and President Trump to play with regards to settling peace on the Korean Peninsula?
PRESIDENT MOON: (As interpreted.) So on bringing balance in our diplomatic approaches, this is not about our stance vis-à-vis the United States and China. We are trying to bring a solution to the DPRK nuclear problem and to bring permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.
And, moreover, we would like to promote peace, stability and prosperity of the Northeast Asian region. So we would like to expand our diplomatic efforts in this regard. And that should include our efforts for China as well as (inaudible) and Russia and the EU.
I believe that we should diversify efforts — diplomatic efforts — so that we can pursue a more balanced approach. So that was the intention of making such comment.
And to establish permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula and to resolve the nuclear problem, I think there’s role to be played by the United States and China. And when it comes to the United States, a very strong sanctions and pressure is being put by the United States. The U.S. is leading efforts, and I am very sure that substantive results will be realized through such efforts.
And China has also faithfully implemented the U.N. resolution to impose sanctions on DPRK. So we have heightened the pressure and sanctions on DPRK, and I think this will also contribute to resolving the nuclear problem.
And if our international society’s efforts bear fruits and if we can really make a turnaround, then I’m sure that we will be able to bring North Korea to the table of dialogue. And through such dialogue, I am very confident that we can freeze a nuclear program and ultimately dismantle the weapons of the DPRK entirely. And in this, I believe that cooperation from the U.S. and China is essential.
And on establishing a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula, I don’t think it’s the right timing that we talk about this issue. Now we should focus on bringing an end to the DPRK provocations, and bringing DPRK to the table for dialogue. This is a pending challenge we must address now. So we must focus on sanctions and pressure. And there is a time — the time finally comes that we should certainly make efforts to further consult each other — Korea and the U.S. — for settling peace on the Korean Peninsula.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I want to just say that President Xi — where we will be tomorrow, China — has been very helpful. We’ll find out how helpful soon. But he really has been very, very helpful. So China is out trying very hard to solve the problem with North Korea. We hope that Russia, likewise, will be helpful. We also hope that other countries — and we know for a fact that other countries have already started. And we’ve had great dialogue with many other countries, as you know, and they’re really helping a lot.
So if we get China, if we get Russia — and we have some other countries, but we want to get most of them — we think that things will happen, and they could happen very quickly.
This is a problem, by the way, that should have been done over the last 25 years, not now. This is not the right time to be doing it, but that’s what I got. That’s what I got. This is a problem that should have been taken care of a long time ago.
MS. SANDERS: Thank you. The United States’ second and final question will go to Ali Vitali from NBC.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. You’ve talked about wanting to put extreme vetting on people trying to come into the United States, but I wonder if you would consider extreme vetting for people trying to buy a gun.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Trying to what?
Q Buy a gun.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, you’re bringing up a situation that probably shouldn’t be discussed too much right now. We could let a little time go by, but it’s okay. If you feel that that’s an appropriate question, even though we’re in the heart of South Korea, I will certainly answer your question.
If you did what you’re suggesting, there would have been no difference three days ago, and you might not have had that very brave person who happened to have a gun or a rifle in his truck go out and shoot him, and hit him and neutralize him. And I can only say this: If he didn’t have a gone, instead of having 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead. So that’s the way I feel about it. Not going to help.
Q And are you considering any kind of gun control policy going forward because —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I mean, you look at the city with the strongest gun laws in our nation, is Chicago, and Chicago is a disaster. It’s a total disaster. Just remember, if this man didn’t have a gun or rifle, you’d be talking about a much worse situation in the great state of Texas. Thank you.
Q (As interpreted.) For President Trump: Today you visited Pyeongtaek military base as you first stop, and we have allocated 9 trillion won for the building of the military base. And there’s been bits of conflict, confrontations with the residents of Pyeongtaek over the construction of the Pyeongtaek base. So, to Koreans, a lot of taxpayers’ money has been put into build the Pyeongtaek base and a lot of sacrifices have been made to build that base. So you visited the Pyeongtaek base today and many people talked about freeriding of Korea against security of the United States. So what are your feelings about such talks as you visited the Pyeongtaek base?
And another question I have is that people have concerns about Korea passing, although a lot of that has gone away. People are still concerned that Korea may be neglected in diplomacy. So what are your views on the Korea passing? Can you just say for sure, for certain, that Korea passing no longer exists for the Korean people?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I’ll start off with your second. South Korea — Republic of Korea, Korea — is very important to me. And there will be no skipping South Korea, I can tell you that right now. Plus, I’ve developed great friendships, not only with the President but with others, and we’re not going to let them down and they’re not going to let us down. Because we’re doing a lot for them, to be honest. We’re doing a lot for them.
As far as the base is concerned, I thought that Humphreys was an incredible military installation. I know what it costs, and it’s a lot of money. We actually spent some of that money, and, as you know, that money was spent, for the most part, to protect South Korea, not to protect the United States. But some of that money was spent by us.
That being said, that was long before my time, and I’m sure I could have built it for a lot less. (Laughter.) That’s what I do. Thank you.
PRESIDENT MOON: (As interpreted.) If you don’t mind, I’d like to make some supplementary remarks.
Today, President Trump visited Pyeongtaek military base, and his visit shows — through his visit, we were able to show that Korea is making significant contribution — huge contributions to the KORUS alliance. I hope that that has been felt by President Trump. And at the expanded summit talks, he has expressed his appreciation for the construction of the splendid base. And at the Pyeongtaek base, with the 8th Army Commander, as well as the USFK Commander, we had a briefing by the commanders and there was a strong emphasis on their part as well.
5:48 P.M. KST
November 07, 2017 Remarks by President Trump and President Moon of the Republic of Korea Before One-on-One Bilateral Meeting Blue House Seoul, Republic of Korea 3:39 P.M. KST
PRESIDENT MOON: (As interpreted.) As President of the United States, this is the first state visit to Korea in 25 years. And since the launch of my new administration, this is the first state visit that I’m receiving from overseas. I would like to warmly welcome you and Mrs. Trump both to Korea and to Cheong Wa Dae.
So I hope that I will have an opportunity to repay the warm hospitality that I received from you when I visited Washington, D.C. in June.
And I heard this past Sunday there was some tragic news from Texas. I believe that you would have the even more heavier heart because you were traveling overseas when this happened. On behalf of the Korean government and the Korean people, I would like to convey my heartfelt condolences to you, Mr. President, and the American people.
And also, I would like to congratulate you in advance. Tomorrow is your one-year anniversary of your election victory. And I believe it has not been one year yet, your time in office, but you have already — you are already making great progress on making America great again, as you have promised on the campaign trail.
And I would like to congratulate you on the progress that you’ve been making on the economy and also the fact that the stock market has continued to break new records every day. And thanks to that, the stock market in Korea is also performing very well. It is good to know that both of us are doing very well.
And I would also like to commend you on your efforts in leading the international collaboration and unity when it comes to countering North Korea nuclear issue. I know that you have put this issue at the top of your security agenda.
So I hope that your visit to Korea and to the Asia Pacific region will serve as an opportunity to relieve some of the anxiety that the Korean people have due to North Korea’s provocations, and also serve as a turning point in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue.
The Korean people welcome you as one, and we have great expectations.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. President Moon, I want to thank you so much for that beautiful ceremony. It doesn’t get more beautiful than that, and I know the work that was put into it. And I watched all of those tens of thousands of people along the route in proudly waving your flag, your great flag, and also waving the American flag, in many cases. I was very happy to see such spirit. You have tremendous spirit in this country, and it’s a great country.
I just have to say that it’s an honor to be with you and your beautiful wife. And we look forward to having a very successful, really, day of talks. We’ll start right now and we’ll conclude sometime tomorrow. And then I go off to China, where we look forward to a tremendous success, also. We just left Japan, and there’s a great spirit. It’s a great part of the world, and it’s a very tremendous honor to be here and to be with you.
And again, I very much appreciate the reception. Thank you very much.
3:45 P.M. KST
November 07, 2017 Remarks by President Trump to the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea | Seoul, Republic of Korea National Assembly Building Seoul, Republic of Korea 11:24 A.M. KST
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Assembly Speaker Chung, distinguished members of this Assembly, ladies and gentlemen: Thank you for the extraordinary privilege to speak in this great chamber and to address your people on behalf of the people of the United States of America.
In our short time in your country, Melania and I have been awed by its ancient and modern wonders, and we are deeply moved by the warmth of your welcome.
Last night, President and Mrs. Moon showed us incredible hospitality in a beautiful reception at the Blue House. We had productive discussions on increasing military cooperation and improving the trade relationship between our nations on the principle of fairness and reciprocity.
Through this entire visit, it has been both our pleasure and our honor to create and celebrate a long friendship between the United States and the Republic of Korea.
This alliance between our nations was forged in the crucible of war, and strengthened by the trials of history. From the Inchon landings to Pork Chop Hill, American and South Korean soldiers have fought together, sacrificed together, and triumphed together.
Almost 67 years ago, in the spring of 1951, they recaptured what remained of this city where we are gathered so proudly today. It was the second time in a year that our combined forces took on steep casualties to retake this capital from the communists.
Over the next weeks and months, the men soldiered through steep mountains and bloody, bloody battles. Driven back at times, they willed their way north to form the line that today divides the oppressed and the free. And there, American and South Korean troops have remained together holding that line for nearly seven decades. (Applause.)
By the time the armistice was signed in 1953, more than 36,000 Americans had died in the Korean War, with more than 100,000 others very badly wounded. They are heroes, and we honor them. We also honor and remember the terrible price the people of your country paid for their freedom. You lost hundreds of thousands of brave soldiers and countless innocent civilians in that gruesome war.
Much of this great city of Seoul was reduced to rubble. Large portions of the country were scarred — severely, severely hurt — by this horrible war. The economy of this nation was demolished.
But as the entire world knows, over the next two generations something miraculous happened on the southern half of this peninsula. Family by family, city by city, the people of South Korea built this country into what is today one of the great nations of the world. And I congratulate you. (Applause.) In less than one lifetime, South Korea climbed from total devastation to among the wealthiest nations on Earth.
Today, your economy is more than 350 times larger than what it was in 1960. Trade has increased 1,900 times. Life expectancy has risen from just 53 years to more than 82 years today.
Like Korea, and since my election exactly one year ago today, I celebrate with you. (Applause.) The United States is going through something of a miracle itself. Our stock market is at an all-time high. Unemployment is at a 17-year low. We are defeating ISIS. We are strengthening our judiciary, including a brilliant Supreme Court justice, and on, and on, and on.
Currently stationed in the vicinity of this peninsula are the three largest aircraft carriers in the world loaded to the maximum with magnificent F-35 and F-18 fighter jets. In addition, we have nuclear submarines appropriately positioned. The United States, under my administration, is completely rebuilding its military and is spending hundreds of billions of dollars to the newest and finest military equipment anywhere in the world being built, right now. I want peace through strength. (Applause.)
We are helping the Republic of Korea far beyond what any other country has ever done. And, in the end, we will work things out far better than anybody understands or can even appreciate. I know that the Republic of Korea, which has become a tremendously successful nation, will be a faithful ally of the United States very long into the future. (Applause.)
What you have built is truly an inspiration. Your economic transformation was linked to a political one. The proud, sovereign, and independent people of your nation demanded the right to govern themselves. You secured free parliamentary elections in 1988, the same year you hosted your first Olympics.
after, you elected your first civilian president in more than three decades. And when the Republic you won faced financial crisis, you lined up by the millions to give your most prized possessions — your wedding rings, heirlooms, and gold “luck keys” — to restore the promise of a better future for your children. (Applause.)
Your wealth is measured in more than money — it is measured in achievements of the mind and achievements of spirit. Over the last several decades, your scientists of engineers — have engineered so many magnificent things. You’ve pushed the boundaries of technology, pioneered miraculous medical treatments, and emerged as leaders in unlocking the mysteries of our universe.
Korean authors penned roughly 40,000 books this year. Korean musicians fill concert halls all around the world. Young Korean students graduate from college at the highest rates of any country. And Korean golfers are some of the best on Earth. (Applause.)
fact — and you know what I’m going to say — the Women’s U.S. Open was held this year at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and it just happened to be won by a great Korean golfer, Sung-hyun Park. An eighth of the top 10 players were from Korea. And the top four golfers — one, two, three, four — the top four were from Korea. Congratulations. (Applause.) Congratulations. And that’s something. That is really something.
Here in Seoul, architectural wonders like the Sixty-Three Building and the Lotte World Tower — very beautiful — grace the sky and house the workers of many growing industries.
citizens now help to feed the hungry, fight terrorism, and solve problems all over the world. And in a few months, you will host the world and you will do a magnificent job at the 23rd Olympic Winter Games. Good luck. (Applause.)
The Korean miracle extends exactly as far as the armies of free nations advanced in 1953 — 24 miles to the north. There, it stops; it all comes to an end. Dead stop. The flourishing ends, and the prison state of North Korea sadly begins.
Workers in North Korea labor grueling hours in unbearable conditions for almost no pay. Recently, the entire working population was ordered to work for 70 days straight, or else pay for a day of rest.
Families live in homes without plumbing, and fewer than half have electricity. Parents bribe teachers in hopes of saving their sons and daughters from forced labor. More than a million North Koreans died of famine in the 1990s, and more continue to die of hunger today.
Among children under the age of five, nearly 30 percent of afflicted — and are afflicted by stunted growth due to malnutrition. And yet, in 2012 and 2013, the regime spent an estimated $200 million — or almost half the money that it allocated to improve living standards for its people — to instead build even more monuments, towers, and statues to glorify its dictators.
What remains of the meager harvest of the North Korean economy is distributed according to perceived loyalty to a twisted regime. Far from valuing its people as equal citizens, this cruel dictatorship measures them, scores them, and ranks them based on the most arbitrary indications of their allegiance to the state. Those who score the highest in loyalty may live in the capital city. Those who score the lowest starve. A small infraction by one citizen, such as accidently staining a picture of the tyrant printed in a discarded newspaper, can wreck the social credit rank of his entire family for many decades.
An estimated 100,000 North Koreans suffer in gulags, toiling in forced labor, and enduring torture, starvation, rape, and murder on a constant basis.
In one known instance, a 9-year-old boy was imprisoned for 10 years because his grandfather was accused of treason. In another, a student was beaten in school for forgetting a single detail about the life of Kim Jong-un.
Soldiers have kidnapped foreigners and forced them to work as language tutors for North Korean spies.
In the part of Korea that was a stronghold for Christianity before the war, Christians and other people of faith who are found praying or holding a religious book of any kind are now detained, tortured, and in many cases, even executed.
North Korean women are forced to abort babies that are considered ethnically inferior. And if these babies are born, the newborns are murdered.
One woman’s baby born to a Chinese father was taken away in a bucket. The guards said it did not “deserve to live because it was impure.”
So why would China feel an obligation to help North Korea?
The horror of life in North Korea is so complete that citizens pay bribes to government officials to have themselves exported aboard as slaves. They would rather be slaves than live in North Korea.
To attempt to flee is a crime punishable by death. One person who escaped remarked, “When I think about it now, I was not a human being. I was more like an animal. Only after leaving North Korea did I realize what life was supposed to be.”
And so, on this peninsula, we have watched the results of a tragic experiment in a laboratory of history. It is a tale of one people, but two Koreas. One Korea in which the people took control of their lives and their country, and chose a future of freedom and justice, of civilization, and incredible achievement. And another Korea in which leaders imprison their people under the banner of tyranny, fascism, and oppression. The result of this experiment are in, and they are totally conclusive.
When the Korean War began in 1950, the two Koreas were approximately equal in GDP per capita. But by the 1990s, South Korea’s wealth had surpassed North Korea’s by more than 10 times. And today, the South’s economy is over 40 times larger. You started the same a short while ago, and now you’re 40 times larger. You’re doing something right.
Considering the misery wrought by the North Korean dictatorship, it is no surprise that it has been forced to take increasingly desperate measures to prevent its people from understanding this brutal contrast.
Because the regime fears the truth above all else, it forbids virtually all contact with the outside world. Not just my speech today, but even the most commonplace facts of South Korean life are forbidden knowledge to the North Korean people. Western and South Korean music is banned. Possession of foreign media is a crime punishable by death. Citizens spy on fellow citizens, their homes are subject to search at any time, and their every action is subject to surveillance. In place of a vibrant society, the people of North Korea are bombarded by state propaganda practically every waking hour of the day.
North Korea is a country ruled as a cult. At the center of this military cult is a deranged belief in the leader’s destiny to rule as parent protector over a conquered Korean Peninsula and an enslaved Korean people.
The more successful South Korea becomes, the more decisively you discredit the dark fantasy at the heart of the Kim regime.
In this way, the very existence of a thriving South Korean republic threatens the very survival of the North Korean dictatorship.
This city and this assembly are living proof that a free and independent Korea not only can, but does stand strong, sovereign, and proud among the nations of the world. (Applause.)
Here, the strength of the nation does not come from the false glory of a tyrant. It comes from the true and powerful glory of a strong and great people — the people of the Republic of Korea — a Korean people who are free to live, to flourish, to worship, to love, to build, and to grow their own destiny.
In this Republic, the people have done what no dictator ever could — you took, with the help of the United States, responsibility for yourselves and ownership of your future. You had a dream — a Korean dream — and you built that dream into a great reality.
In so doing, you performed the miracle on the Hahn that we see all around us, from the stunning skyline of Seoul to the plains and peaks of this beautiful landscape. You have done it freely, you have done it happily, and you have done it in your own very beautiful way.
This reality — this wonderful place — your success is the greatest cause of anxiety, alarm, and even panic to the North Korean regime. That is why the Kim regime seeks conflict abroad — to distract from total failure that they suffer at home.
Since the so-called armistice, there have been hundreds of North Korean attacks on Americans and South Koreans. These attacks have included the capture and torture of the brave American soldiers of the USS Pueblo, repeated assaults on American helicopters, and the 1969 drowning [downing] of a U.S. surveillance plane that killed 31 American servicemen. The regime has made numerous lethal incursions in South Korea, attempted to assassinate senior leaders, attacked South Korean ships, and tortured Otto Warmbier, ultimately leading to that fine young man’s death.
All the while, the regime has pursued nuclear weapons with the deluded hope that it could blackmail its way to the ultimate objective. And that objective we are not going to let it have. We are not going to let it have. All of Korea is under that spell, divided in half. South Korea will never allow what’s going on in North Korea to continue to happen.
The North Korean regime has pursued its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in defiance of every assurance, agreement, and commitment it has made to the United States and its allies. It’s broken all of those commitments. After promising to freeze its plutonium program in 1994, it repeated [reaped] the benefits of the deal and then — and then immediately continued its illicit nuclear activities.
In 2005, after years of diplomacy, the dictatorship agreed to ultimately abandon its nuclear programs and return to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation. But it never did. And worse, it tested the very weapons it said it was going to give up. In 2009, the United States gave negotiations yet another chance, and offered North Korea the open hand of engagement. The regime responded by sinking a South Korean Navy ship, killing 46 Korean sailors. To this day, it continues to launch missiles over the sovereign territory of Japan and all other neighbors, test nuclear devices, and develop ICBMs to threaten the United States itself. The regime has interpreted America’s past restraint as weakness. This would be a fatal miscalculation. This is a very different administration than the United States has had in the past.
Today, I hope I speak not only for our countries, but for all civilized nations, when I say to the North: Do not underestimate us, and do not try us. We will defend our common security, our shared prosperity, and our sacred liberty.
We did not choose to draw here, on this peninsula — (applause) — this magnificent peninsula — the thin line of civilization that runs around the world and down through time. But here it was drawn, and here it remains to this day. It is the line between peace and war, between decency and depravity, between law and tyranny, between hope and total despair. It is a line that has been drawn many times, in many places, throughout history. To hold that line is a choice free nations have always had to make. We have learned together the high cost of weakness and the high stakes of its defense.
America’s men and women in uniform have given their lives in the fight against Nazism, imperialism, Communism and terrorism.
America does not seek conflict or confrontation, but we will never run from it. History is filled with discarded regimes that have foolishly tested America’s resolve.
Anyone who doubts the strength or determination of the United States should look to our past, and you will doubt it no longer. We will not permit America or our allies to be blackmailed or attacked. We will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction. We will not be intimidated. And we will not let the worst atrocities in history be repeated here, on this ground, we fought and died so hard to secure. (Applause.)
That is why I have come here, to the heart of a free and flourishing Korea, with a message for the peace-loving nations of the world: The time for excuses is over. Now is the time for strength. If you want peace, you must stand strong at all times. (Applause.) The world cannot tolerate the menace of a rogue regime that threatens with nuclear devastation.
All responsible nations must join forces to isolate the brutal regime of North Korea — to deny it and any form — any form of it. You cannot support, you cannot supply, you cannot accept. We call on every nation, including China and Russia, to fully implement U.N. Security Council resolutions, downgrade diplomatic relations with the regime, and sever all ties of trade and technology.
It is our responsibility and our duty to confront this danger together — because the longer we wait, the greater the danger grows, and the fewer the options become. (Applause.) And to those nations that choose to ignore this threat, or, worse still, to enable it, the weight of this crisis is on your conscience.
I also have come here to this peninsula to deliver a message directly to the leader of the North Korean dictatorship: The weapons you are acquiring are not making you safer. They are putting your regime in grave danger. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face.
North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves. Yet, despite every crime you have committed against God and man, you are ready to offer, and we will do that — we will offer a path to a much better future. It begins with an end to the aggression of your regime, a stop to your development of ballistic missiles, and complete, verifiable, and total denuclearization. (Applause.)
A sky-top view of this peninsula shows a nation of dazzling light in the South and a mass of impenetrable darkness in the North. We seek a future of light, prosperity, and peace. But we are only prepared to discuss this brighter path for North Korea if its leaders cease their threats and dismantle their nuclear program.
The sinister regime of North Korea is right about only one thing: The Korean people do have a glorious destiny, but they could not be more wrong about what that destiny looks like. The destiny of the Korean people is not to suffer in the bondage of oppression, but to thrive in the glory of freedom. (Applause.)
What South Koreans have achieved on this peninsula is more than a victory for your nation. It is a victory for every nation that believes in the human spirit. And it is our hope that, someday soon, all of your brothers and sisters of the North will be able to enjoy the fullest of life intended by God.
Your republic shows us all of what is possible. In just a few decades, with only the hard work, courage, and talents of your people, you turned this war-torn land into a nation blessed with wealth, rich in culture, and deep in spirit. You built a home where all families can flourish and where all children can shine and be happy.
This Korea stands strong and tall among the great community of independent, confident, and peace-loving nations. We are nations that respect our citizens, cherish our liberty, treasure our sovereignty, and control our own destiny. We affirm the dignity of every person and embrace the full potential of every soul. And we are always prepared to defend the vital interests of our people against the cruel ambition of tyrants.
Together, we dream of a Korea that is free, a peninsula that is safe, and families that are reunited once again. We dream of highways connecting North and South, of cousins embracing cousins, and this nuclear nightmare replaced with the beautiful promise of peace.
Until that day comes, we stand strong and alert. Our eyes are fixed to the North, and our hearts praying for the day when all Koreans can live in freedom. (Applause.)
Thank you. (Applause.) God Bless You. God Bless the Korean people. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)