Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Toasts of the President and President Chung Hee Park of Korea

May 17, 1965

Mr. President, Mrs. Park, distinguished guests:

This is a very happy ending for what has been to all of us in this land a most gratifying and a very happy day.

We are honored, Mr. President, to welcome you and the First Lady to this house that belongs to all of the American people. We are especially grateful for the opportunity to meet and to know more personally the impressive associates that you have brought with you. We are deeply in your debt for having sent to this country as your ambassador the intelligent and genial couple--Ambassador and Mrs. Kim.

On this occasion, it is not necessary for us to dwell upon memories of the past which people of both of our lands share together. It is the spirit of Korea today, and of America today, and, I think, of our meeting today, to look forward to the works that we seek to do together.

We have not forgotten, and we shall never forget, in America or in Korea, that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. But likewise, Mr. president, neither we nor any who would live in freedom can afford to forget that the roots of liberty are strongest where the hopes of the people are respected most and fulfilled.

We are pleased, Mr. President, as I know you are, of the accomplishments that your people have made in recent years toward the betterment of their life and the broadening of their individual horizons.

By their indomitable will and by their unstinted energy, the Korean people have pioneered in self-help projects that have reclaimed marshlands and barren hillsides for new and now much more efficient rice production. They have established cooperatives in fishing and seaweed marketing. They have created new job opportunities for the skilled and the unskilled.

Yes, the Korean people have set an example for the entire world in transforming food for relief into food for development.

This is only one example of many that I might cite just from the reports that Senator Dodd and Mr. Rostow of our State Department have brought to me in recent days.

Out of our association and the alliance that was born of adversity, there has come a very close and a very cordial bond of understanding in cooperation between the citizens of Korea and the United States.

We welcome the talent and the enterprise and the leadership of your young people studying in our land. We are particularly proud of the young lady who acted as interpreter here this evening, who came to our land only a few years ago and who now works in our State Department.

We likewise appreciate the understanding welcome that you, Mr. President, have extended to the citizens of America that are working with your people in Korea in so many, many fields.

I hope that our visits together may be marked and remembered for the opening of still more opportunities for our citizens to work together in enterprises that will strengthen and enrich both of our societies and all of the great society of free and peaceful men.

We think such opportunities are boundless in developing the agriculture of Asia, in developing their natural resources, in improving the medical libraries of your land, in broadening the horizons of learning and research and scientific advance.

Works such as these are the works that we of America really want to do. That is where we want to spend our talents and our dollars--with your people, with the peoples of all Asia, with the peoples of all the world, in building peace and happiness and prosperity.

These are the works that mankind can do together if only we can finally learn that neighbor should leave neighbor alone to live under peace and not under fear.

In other days, and in other times, free men have been lacking in the strength to defend freedom or to preserve peace. But Mr. President, in talking to you today, and in talking to the other leaders that have come this way, I know that is not true today.

In both the Atlantic and the Pacific communities, free nations have both the strength and the resolve to defend what is priceless to them and to the progress of all mankind.

So, let all listen and let none anywhere falsely assume that the debate that freedom permits reflects division on the decisions and the decisiveness which duty to freedom requires. The community of free men is a community that is united in danger, and so it shall remain until peace on this earth is sure, and until it is safe.

In this spirit, I ask those of you that honor us with your presence tonight to join me in a toast to the spirit of the Korean people, to the success of the Korean nation, to the leadership and the resoluteness of the Korean President and our warm and genial guests, President and Mrs. Park.

Note: The President proposed the toast at a dinner in the State Dining Room at the White House. President Park responded as follows:

President Johnson, Mrs. Johnson, ladies and gentlemen:

"On behalf of the government and people of the Republic of Korea, I want to express my sincere appreciation for the most friendly invitation extended me by President Johnson.

"It gives me great pleasure to take this opportunity to convey the heartfelt friendship and deep respect of our people to the leaders of the United States who have to take care of vast ranges of issues in the free world, interests ranging from nuclear problems to fighting hunger and diseases in remote and less developed continents.

"The relations between Korea and the United States have been closer than any that can be found between free nations. Now our two nations are pursuing, hand in hand, their common goals. I am convinced that such relations will continue generation after generation, not because of any political or economic considerations, but because of the strong determination of our two nations to preserve freedom and peace at all costs.

"Today the Korean people are eager, more than ever, to achieve as soon as possible an economy which can stand independent of foreign assistance. They are also determined more than anyone else to contribute to the common efforts of the free world toward achievement of their prosperity.

"But you are well aware that a variety of unfortunate conditions faced by Korea limit her endeavors toward this end. With her territory still divided and with her meager economic resources, Korea is still ill afforded to accumulate capital. On the other hand she is continuously exposed to the threats of armed force and to threats whose nature is yet to be determined in her neighborhood.

"Under these situations Korea still has to maintain her military strength at the proper level, even tightening her belt, speed up her campaign for economic independence, and stave off the Red influx in southeast Asia, arm in arm with the United States.

"Moreover, we must continue her efforts to minimize Korea-Japan relations in the face of various difficulties which are intertwined with the bitter emotions of our people over the unfortunate past they had with the Japanese. But despite these difficulties, we can still assure you with pride that your support and assistance will be better rewarded in Korea than anywhere else.

"We dare say Korea will continue to be a faithful comrade, ready to march arm in arm with the United States in Asia for many years to come. We are very proud to do so and this may also be a source of pride to you all.

"Now the time is coming when our country will be able to stand economically without the help of others. At this point, I am sure you and I share the consensus on how to see the important and yet difficult final cure.

"I now propose a toast to our good friendship between our two countries, to the health of President Johnson and Mrs. Johnson, and to the everlasting prosperity of the United States of America."

President Johnson's opening words referred to President Chung Hee Park of Korea and Mrs. Park. During the course of his remarks he referred to Ambassador Hyun Chul Kim of Korea and Mrs. Kim, Senator Thomas J. Dodd of Connecticut, and Walt W. Rostow, Counselor and Chairman of the Policy Planning Council, Department of State.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Toasts of the President and President Chung Hee Park of Korea Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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