Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony at City Hall Plaza, Seoul, Korea

October 31, 1966

President and Mrs. Park, Mayor and Mrs. Kim, Prime Minister and Mrs. Chung, ladies and gentlemen:

To an American, the free soil of Korea is hallowed ground.

Sixteen years ago an invading army from the North swept down upon your land. Long and tragic months followed, bringing grief to thousands upon thousands of good Korean families. First alone, and then under the United Nations, President Truman committed my country to help Korea turn back the aggressor. But months passed before the tide of battle could be clearly reversed, and 3 years before an armistice was finally reached.

And, in the tide of war, this city was fought over, not once but several times, and virtually destroyed.

Sixteen years have gone by. Your nation tonight is secure in freedom. It is bursting with vitality and growth and pride. Only you know how much toil, how much sacrifice, how many disheartening days there were before the new Korea emerged.

You know how you had to build, upon the rubble of a dreadful war, the industries, the shops, the schools, the hospitals, and the roads that a modern nation must have. You received help from your friends--but no one else could have done the job for you. Koreans built the new Korea--and Koreans are rightfully proud tonight of what they have done.

I have come to Korea to tell you that Americans, who fought side by side with you in your darkest hours, rejoice in your success, and take heart from your example. I have come to meet the men and women who have made the new Korea possible.

I have come to express our gratitude for the brave and generous help that you are giving to our common ally in Vietnam-both on the battlefield and in the rebuilding of the countryside. This is an act of a nation that understands the nature of aggression, and that knows what it means to have help in resisting an aggressor.

Mr. President, under your leadership Korea is playing an honorable and vital role in the Pacific community. There is a new spirit of cooperation in this part of the world, one that my country warmly welcomes and strongly supports. That new spirit of cooperation in this part of the world was expressed by the seven nations who met at Manila last week.

That historic meeting, which you first suggested and which you did so much to bring into being, affirmed the broad partnership and the common purpose of free Pacific nations--a partnership that will endure long after the Communist aggression is ended in Vietnam. Our ultimate goals lie beyond the battlefield. They will be realized when the resources of mankind are devoted entirely to relieving hunger--to conquering disease--and to liberating man's spirit, as well as his body.

So I stand on this hallowed soil of Korea tonight--for whose freedom thousands of my countrymen died alongside yours--confident that we shall redeem their sacrifice, confident that the cause of freedom will prevail in Asia.

Mr. President, I want to thank you and all the people of Korea for this magnificent welcome. The Communist masters in the world tonight can get no comfort from what they see in Malaysia, from where I have just come, from what they see here in Korea, and what they see in other parts of Asia.

I extend to you, Mr. President, and to all the people of Korea, America's hand of friendship and admiration, and I look forward eagerly to the next few days that I shall spend here with you and your countrymen.

Mrs. Johnson and I, Secretary Rusk and our party, thank each of you for your hospitality this afternoon. We ask that all of you be careful and cautious and considerate that we don't hurt anyone in this huge crowd so that we can all go to our homes tonight and thank the Good Lord for the freedom and the independence that is ours.

Now, Mr. President, with a salute to the two flags that fly above us, shoulder to shoulder, and to the freedom that they both represent, I say to one and all, good night and thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 5:17 p.m. at City Hall Plaza, Seoul, Korea. In his opening words he referred to President and Mrs. Chung Hee Park, Mayor and Mrs. Hyon-ok Kim of Seoul, and Prime Minister and Mrs. Il Kwon Chung, all of the Republic of Korea.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony at City Hall Plaza, Seoul, Korea Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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