George W. Bush photo

Remarks at a Dinner Hosted by President Kim Dae-jung of South Korea in Seoul, South Korea

February 20, 2002

Mr. President, Madam First Lady, thank you all so very much for your such generous hospitality. Laura and I are honored to be here.

I'm told that in Korea, the color blue stands for elegance and dignity. Through your hospitality, Mr. President, these qualities are in abundance tonight.

Earlier today President Kim and I traveled to the Demilitarized Zone and saw the line where freedom begins and ends. I was reminded there of the tremendous sacrifices paid by both South Koreans and Americans in defending that line. I met with men and women from both our nations who defend that line today on behalf of everybody in this room. As always, their enthusiasm and dedication to duty and freedom and country was inspiring.

At the DMZ, President Kim and I also saw the railway and the road that symbolize our common hopes that families and commerce, culture and ideas may one day travel freely throughout the Peninsula. President Kim has offered the North a better way. He has offered them a vision of reconciliation over rivalry. He has offered them the chance to fulfill new hopes instead of feeding old suspicions. For the sake of all Koreans, I hope—and the American people hope—that the North does not miss this chance.

Mr. President, by your unyielding love for liberty, you have written on the pages of history a story of uncommon courage and determination. Sustained by your strong faith, you endured hardships that most can hardly imagine, all for a simple idea, the idea that freedom belongs to every person, not just every Korean or every American but every Asian and every person on this planet.

As you said in your Nobel lecture, and I quote, "Democracy is the absolute value that makes for human dignity, as well as the only road to sustain economic development and social justice."

President Kim, Laura and I thank you for your friendship and your warm hospitality, and the world thanks you for your leadership and your vision. The American people thank you and the Korean people for the sympathy and support you have given our Nation during these past difficult months. And most of all, my country thanks South Korea for a half-century of friendship, a friendship that has brought great benefit to both our peoples, a friendship that has now matured into a great alliance for liberty.

My toast tonight is that, may God continue to bless Korea and America.

NOTE: The President spoke at 7:11 p.m. at the Blue House. In his remarks, he referred to President Kim's wife, Lee Hee-ho. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of President Kim.

George W. Bush, Remarks at a Dinner Hosted by President Kim Dae-jung of South Korea in Seoul, South Korea Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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