Mr. President, Mrs. Kim, distinguished guests, 4 months ago the First Lady and I were deeply honored by the warm hospitality that the President and Mrs. Kim extended to us during our visit to Korea, including a memorable state dinner at Korea's Blue House. Tonight it is our pleasure to welcome President and Mrs. Kim to the first state dinner we've held here at the White House.
Mr. President, your leadership for democracy and your great personal sacrifice in the cause of democracy in Korea has been an inspiration to freedom-loving people around the world. And you have provided leadership, as well, for your country's remarkable economic performance which has made Korea a model for other nations. Terrain that once was bomb-scarred and war-ravaged today supports modern factories and new skyscrapers. In just 33 years, Korea's output has increased an astounding 100-fold.
The optimism and perseverance that have made South Korea great can also be found in abundance here in our Korean-American community. Over 1 million Korean-Americans today are contributing greatly to the dynamism of our American life. They are building bonds of cooperation across an ocean of opportunity, bonds that will serve our two nations well as we meet the many challenges that face us both in the years ahead.
For 43 years, Mr. President, America and Korea have stood shoulder to shoulder to preserve security on the peninsula. Today, new challenges such as North Korea's nuclear program continue to demand our vigilance and our determined effort. But they also demand that we demonstrate vision. You and I share a vision, Mr. President, a vision of a Korea at peace and one day reunited on terms acceptable to the Korean people.
During my visit to Korea in July, I was moved not only by the beauty of the "Land of the Morning Calm" but also by the spirit of the people. When I visited Seoul, I gained a better appreciation of the scope of Korea's economic success, the miracle on the Han. When I stood on the somber bridge at the Point of No Return, I gained a deeper appreciation for Korea's continuing security challenges. When I spoke to the National Assembly, I gained an inspiring appreciation of Korea's commitment to democracy. And when I went jogging with President Kim, I gained a fresh appreciation for the warmth, the vigor, and the endurance of Korea's leader.
President Kim, it is with great admiration for you and for the people of Korea that I invite everyone here to join me in a toast to you and to the Republic of Korea. May democracy continue to flourish there, and may the dream of peaceful reunification on the Korean Peninsula soon become a reality.
To President and Mrs. Kim and the people of the Republic of Korea. Hear, hear.