Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks of Welcome at the White House to Prime Minister Chung of Korea

March 14, 1967

Mr. Prime Minister, and ladies and gentlemen:

It is now almost 17 years since that June day when the invader struck at South Korea. For a few, time has erased the meaning of that day, and all that followed it. But for most Americans, it remains today as clear as it was to President Harry Truman when he said:

"In my generation, this was not the first occasion when the strong had attacked the weak. I recalled some earlier instances: Manchuria, Ethiopia, Austria. I remembered how each time that the democracies had failed to act it had encouraged the aggressors to keep going ahead .... I felt certain that . . . if the Communists were permitted to force their way into the Republic of Korea without opposition from the free world, no small nation would have the courage to resist threats and aggressions by stronger Communist neighbors. If this were allowed to go unchallenged it would mean a third world war, just as similar incidents had brought on the Second World War. It was also clear to me that the foundations and the principles of the United Nations were at stake unless this unprovoked attack on Korea could be stopped."

Mr. Prime Minister, the attack was stopped--and we have now had 15 years to see the results.

The Korean people, whom you so proudly represent here today, have strengthened and have developed the independence that was once so dearly bought. They have moved forward--slowly, at first, and with some uncertainty, to meet problems that seemed to defy all solution.

I remember how depressed and discouraged all of us were at the future of Korea in the darkest days of the war and I remember the prognostications and the prophecies of the cynics of that hour.

But would that we all look at South Korea today.

There is freedom of speech, and a free press.

There are free elections--and I understand you are about to have another soon.

Economically, Korea has made amazing progress.

A leading Western financial publication recently picked Korea as the developing country with "the best all-around national performance in 1966 in the world of economics and finance."

Your rate of economic growth is close to 12 percent.

You are approaching self-sufficiency in food.

You set $250 million as your export goal last year--and you reached and surpassed that goal.

The world knows what Koreans are doing with their freedom and with their independence.

And I don't mean to imply that you have solved all your economic and social problems, because we all know that you have not, nor have we. No one really has.

But the Korean economy has "taken off"-as one of my advisers is frequently fond of saying.

Korea's freedom is a consequence, above all, of Korean fortitude and courage. But the Korean people recognize that it is the result, too, of heroism and sacrifice of their friends. They know that freedom brings responsibilities, as well as rights.

So they have now begun to turn their attention from purely national needs and goals to the broader problems of Asia and the world. Korean initiative in launching the Asian and Pacific Council has been recognized and admired by all.

And today Koreans are fighting in the defense of another brave people. Once again, we work side by side together--we fight together-against aggression. Once again we shall prove that it can be turned back by the courageous determination of free men.

In peace, as in war, we have joined our efforts--in the Asian Development Bank, in cooperative efforts to improve food production, in transportation, and in education and health measures throughout Asia.

Mr. Prime Minister, our peoples are linked by the strongest bonds of friendship. They were forged in the savagery and sorrow of war. They have been tested now in the challenges of peace.

The value of this friendship is beyond words.

It is one of those benefits that comes to men and to nations all too rarely.

Mrs. Johnson and I extend our very warmest welcome to you and to all the distinguished members of your party.

I eagerly look forward to our exchange of views today and tomorrow.

I hope that this visit to our country will be one of your most pleasant, one of your most interesting, and one of the most memorable journeys among us.

We are delighted to have you. Thank you for having come.

Note: The President spoke at 11:40 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House, where Prime Minister I1 Kwon Chung was given a formal welcome with full military honors. The Prime Minister responded as follows:

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen:

It is with great pleasure and a sense of privilege that I receive the warm welcome extended to me and my party today.

First of all, I have the honor of conveying best regards from the President and Mrs. Park to you and Mrs. Johnson and to all the people of the United States of America.

Also, I am most happy to visit once again this Capital City of the United States for which I have a profound feeling of friendliness. I have no adequate words to express the pleasure I feel as I see you once again, having come by that firm bridge of good faith and friendship which was strengthened by the exchange of visits by our heads of state.

Mr. President, under your great and inspiring leadership, the freedom-loving spirit of the Founding Fathers of the United States and the glorious history of the American struggle for the preservation of freedom shine bright ha all parts of the world.

Today, a new chapter in the history of the United States is being written on the unswerving efforts of the American people who are determined to crush, with faith and courage, violence and aggression and to establish world peace, in the true sense, through perseverance and tolerance.

I am most happy to say that the entire people of the Republic of Korea have a deep respect and are grateful for the great contributions being made by the American people.

Mr. President, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America are the allies bound together for the common cause. Our traditional ties of friendship have been strengthened further over the last few years.

Today, the spirit of cooperation between our two countries is evident not only in the battlefield but in all our mutual endeavors which are aimed at the establishment of a new world of prosperity, in peace and freedom.

I pledge here that as a trusted ally of the United States the Republic of Korea will share all the adversities we may encounter in our joint endeavor.

Mr. President, as you have witnessed in person, my country is advancing under the leadership of President Park to a better, brighter tomorrow. The "Land of Morning Calm" is today full of vigor, vitality, and promise of a modern, self-sustaining future.

The assistance and cooperation rendered by the people of the United States since the end of World War II have borne full fruit in a land that was once plagued with despair and devastation.

It is with the utmost pleasure that I convey to the people of the United States the warmest gratitude of the people of the Republic of Korea.

We are today marching ahead with constancy and hope toward a bright future, ever thankful to the American people for helping them make this progress possible.

Mr. President, I am looking forward with joy in my heart to meeting with you and other leaders of your Government during my visit. We will discuss in all sincerity and frankness those problems of mutual interest which confront us today, with a view to strengthening the existing ties of friendship between our two countries.

Once again, I wish to express my gratitude to you, Mr. President, for this warm welcome extended to me and my party. Thank you.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks of Welcome at the White House to Prime Minister Chung of Korea Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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