Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Address Before the National Assembly of Korea.

June 20, 1960

Mr. Speaker, Members of the National Assembly, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

First, I offer my apologies to the Members of this Chamber because of my tardiness in arriving here. I assure you that the delay was unintentional.

You have signally honored me by your invitation to address this National Assembly. To you is entrusted the realization of the Korean people's hopes and aspirations. This is no local, narrow or limited mission. What you do and what you say in the discharge of your trust is of deep significance and powerful impact far beyond the boundaries of this Republic. You are watched by the entire world.

Korea, once a battlefield for survival over aggression, is now a proving ground for responsible, representative self-government. This is a testing time of Korean integrity, perseverance in the democratic process, loyalty to the ideals on which the Republic was founded.

In all your efforts you have the sympathetic understanding and the best wishes of the American people.

Impressive changes of many kinds have occurred here since I visited your country in 1952. Then your land bore the deep scars of war. But you of free Korea have struggled to rehabilitate your war-torn nation. You have achieved better standards of living against odds that for a less sturdy people would have been overwhelming.

Equally inspiring to us all in recent days has been the purposeful revitalization of the free institutions and practices on which democracy rests.

You have reason today to be confident that your military forces, together with those of your friends and allies, will permit no intrusion across the borders of free Korea. On behalf of the Government and people of the United States I solemnly reaffirm the pledge of full American support to the Republic of Korea in accordance with our commitments under the Mutual Defense Treaty.

The primary responsibility, of course, rests squarely on the Korean people and their Government. External aid to any nation can be used effectively and indeed is deserved only as the recipient shows by stability, energy, unity and steadfastness of purpose its determination to sacrifice for the ideals it deems paramount in its way of life.

Certainly, in its agonizing tests during three years of war, Korea showed itself so determined. We shall forever pay tribute to the heroic soldiers, sailors and airmen of Korea who, together with their fellow fighting men from sixteen member nations of the United Nations, gave their lives in the cause of freedom.

So long as a like spirit, a like will to sacrifice, animates the people of Korea other nations will be inspired and, I think, anxious to help you in every way they can. They have already proved such a readiness.

The United Nations response to the attack in 1950 was one of the significant events of history. This united determination of free countries will not be forgotten by those who would wage aggression or by those who seek to maintain their full independence and security.

The cause for which free nations fought here in Korea transcended physical stemming of Communist aggression. Their greater and more far-reaching purpose was to strengthen and safeguard, on the mainland of Asia, a nation founded on the principles of government by and for the people.

This kind of government cannot endure without such basic institutions and practices as:

1.--a free press;

2.--responsible expression of popular will;

3.--a system of public education;

4.--an assembly truly representative of the Korean people.

Events over the past few months in the Republic of Korea have demonstrated how aware its citizens are of the rights and obligations of a free people.

Members of the National Assembly, I repeat that yours is a great trust. You, and those new members who will soon be gathering here in the next Assembly, have the opportunity and the heavy responsibility to show that human freedom and advancement of the people's welfare thrive even in the very shadow of Communist aggression.

The prompt and judicious fulfillment of the recently expressed wishes of the Korean people is a momentous challenge. Your friends throughout the world hope and believe you will meet this challenge with courage and with moderation. And success in this undertaking will provide inspiration to your countrymen to. the north who, I earnestly pray will one day join you in a free, united Korea.

Over the past years, I have had an unusual opportunity to visit many people throughout the world. In race, in color, in language, in creed they were a cross-section of all mankind. But they were united in their recognition that responsible and representative self-government best serves the needs and welfare of free men. This National Assembly, for example, has its counterpart in all free countries, which like you, are striving for liberty, progress and peace with justice.

All free nations cherish these goals. All aspire to achieve them. But not a single one--even the most rich and powerful--can hope, of itself, for fullness of attainment in the circumstances of this time. All of us-Asian and European, American and African--must work together in cooperative purpose or we shall lose the right to work at all in freedom.

That we may effectively work together we must come to understand more clearly and fully how much we have in common--the great goals of free men, their eternal aspirations; a common destiny.

As we grow in such understanding, I am firmly convinced that all artificial, man-made differences will shrink and disappear. In their stead will develop full recognition of the tremendous opportunities for mutual advancement that lie in cooperative endeavor. And we will use these opportunities for our own good and the good of all mankind.

Free people, of course, must stand together resolutely against aggression. But they must also stand together in combat against the enemies of humanity: hunger, privation and disease. The American people have devoted much of their resources to this cause. Here in Korea are some of our largest programs for contributing to the economic progress of a close ally and for strengthening its military capabilities.

Cooperation between our two countries has, as you know, extended into many spheres--education, industry, defense, agriculture, social welfare. Through Korean-American cooperation in all these diverse fields, we have come better to understand each other. This common understanding, which reflects our common stake, will, I am convinced, grow deeper and firmer as we continue jointly to face the problems and demands of the future.

Now, on the eve of the tenth anniversary of the Communist invasion of your nation, let us rededicate ourselves to the cause of peace and friendship in freedom among nations and men.

My friends, I come before you this afternoon as a representative of one sovereign nation speaking to the legislative representatives of another sovereign nation. My message from America to you is this: we will be watching your progress with ever growing concern. You can always count on our friendship so long as we endure.

Note: The President spoke at 3:51 p.m. His opening words "Mr. Speaker" referred to the Vice Speaker of the Assembly, Do Yun Kim.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Address Before the National Assembly of Korea. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234892

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