Ronald Reagan picture

Toast at the State Dinner in Seoul, Republic of Korea

November 12, 1983

Mr. President, Nancy and I both want to thank you and Madame Chun for your gracious hospitality and your warm words of welcome to us. We're delighted and honored to return here to visit your dynamic country.

Much has been written concerning the Korean economic miracle of the past decades. The startling industry and progress of the Korean people are gaining increasing international recognition and respect. Only recently the Interparliamentary Union met in Seoul, and a new series of international events will culminate here in the 1988 Summer Olympics. This will be a proud moment for Korea. You and the Korean people have every right to feel joy in your hearts.

Mr. President, as Korea grows in international stature, you will hear increasing calls for assistance from allies and friends, calls to defend and promote the values—political, economic, and humanitarian—that both our peoples seek to live by.

Our mutual belief in economic freedom, for example, Mr. President, must not only be defended but spread as far as possible throughout the world. The 66 years that have followed the Russian Revolution and its attempt to turn Communist theory into practice have been marked by tragic failure. Innumerable variations of the Marxist economic system have brought stagnation, waste, and hardship to many countries and many peoples. We must never tire of reminding the world of this. We must never tire of explaining and promoting the free market system and its benefits.

And so, too, Mr. President, we must resist internal threats to our economic freedom, the calls to choke off international trade, to somehow protect jobs by denying our consumers the benefits of freedom of choice. The $12 billion in trade between our two countries has provided innumerable jobs to both our nations, and we must redouble our efforts to expand rather than constrict that trade.

Our political values also face unremitting challenges. Democracy and :.freedom of opinion are virtues the free" world must cherish and defend. They distinguish us from totalitarian states. They are the source of our strength as nations, the very reason for our existence.

And finally, the' most basic human values—our concern for the rights of the individual, our belief in the sacredness of human life—there also, these go to the heart of our existence. The murder of 269 innocent people in a defenseless airliner, the very absence here tonight of some of your nation's finest public servants—these events have written in blood the stark contrast between those nations that respect human life and those that trample it. The vicious attack in Rangoon dramatizes the threat your people face. We must stand together to confront this dangerous challenge and to preserve the peace. And this we will do.

The increasing strength of the United States, our allies, and the progress of nations like Korea—as contrasted with the continuing failure and moral decline of the Communist nations—only serve to strengthen my conviction: The tide of history is a freedom tide, and communism cannot and will not hold it back.

Our first hundred years of friendship are history; we are now beginning to write the history of our second hundred years. May the new era of Korean-American partnership be even more fruitful than the last. And may it bring to both our peoples a stronger prosperity, a renewed friendship and confidence, and the genuine peace and security which we so fervently seek.

Will you all join me in a toast to the Korean people, our staunch allies and good friends, and to the President of the Republic of Korea and Madame Chun.

Note: President Reagan spoke at 8:54 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the Blue House in response to a toast by President Chun Doo Hwan. After the Korean folk entertainment which followed the dinner, the President and Mrs. Reagan returned to the residence of Richard L. Walker, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, where they stayed during their visit.

Ronald Reagan, Toast at the State Dinner in Seoul, Republic of Korea Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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