THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT CLINTON AND PRESIDENT KIM OF SOUTH KOREA IN EXCHANGE OF TOASTS
The State Dining Room
THE PRESIDENT: President and Mrs. Kim, the members of the delegation from the Republic of Korea, to all of our distinguished guests, Hillary and I are delighted to have you here in the White House. I have especially enjoyed this day that I have spent with President Kim, a man whose extraordinary resilience is matched only by his commitment to democracy.
Mr. President, this is our fourth meeting. And if you'll permit me just a personal note, I am struck by how much we have in common. We were both elected to office at an early age. You won a seat in your National Assembly when you were just 25. You entered the Blue House just after I came to the White House. Or to put it in another way, we have both spent the past 20,000 hours or so dealing with our respective Congresses and fielding hard questions from the press. (Laughter.)
I'm happy to say that President Kim is also an enthusiastic jogger who permitted me to jog with him in Korea. (Laughter.) And even in this heat, Mr. President, after this meal we may have to run an extra mile together tomorrow. (Laughter.)
Mr. President, for all the things we have in common, I must also comment on something that set you apart from most other leaders in the world today. And that is the extraordinary hardship you endured and the courage you displayed to bring democracy to your country. Your many years in opposition were marked by jail terms, years of house arrest, an assassination attempt, and a 23-day hunger strike that almost took your life. As you once put it, a short life of integrity is better than a long life in disgrace.
But you persisted and you prevailed. At your inauguration you said, "Deep in my heart I have a vision of a new Korea -- a freer and more mature democracy. At last we have established a government by the people and of the people of this land." Now, under your leadership, Korea is taking its rightful place in the world as both a thriving economy and a dynamic democracy.
Mr. President, the bonds between our people forged in the fires of war upon your land have only grown stronger with time. We are united now by a history of shared sacrifice and a future of common purpose. These are our common goals: lasting peace, security and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula; a stable and prosperous Asia Pacific region; a rising tide of democracy around the world. Working together, the Republic of Korea and the United States can help to achieve them.
Mr. President, when I visited you two years ago, you presented me with a beautiful work of calligraphy with your favorite saying -- "righteousness overcomes all obstacles." Mr. President, tonight, in the presence of so many people from your country, so many Korean Americans, your wonderful wife and your two daughters who live in our country, I ask everyone in this room to raise a glass to a man who, through his own righteousness, has overcome all obstacles -- Kim Yong Sam. To you, Mr. President, and to the enduring friendship between our two great nations.
(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)
PRESIDENT KIM: President and Mrs. Clinton, ladies and gentlemen: I would like to thank President and Mrs. Clinton for this sumptuous dinner for me, my wife and my party, as well as the warm words of welcome given in our honor.
My trip to the United States this time was a very tight schedule, but very kindly, President Clinton and Mrs. Clinton sent us nice Arkansas water from Hot Springs National Park -- (laughter and applause) -- to the Blair House where I'm staying now. The water was so refreshing and energizing that I feel I can make another trip like this one tomorrow. (Laughter.)
Over the past two years President Clinton and I have met on four occasions and held many telephone conversations to discuss the challenges facing both of our countries. I should like to pay tribute to the outstanding leadership President Clinton has demonstrated in finding solutions to the issues of the Korean Peninsula and other international issues.
Ladies and gentlemen, the history of friendship between our two countries dates back more than one century. However, it was not until the Korean War broke out that our two peoples became blood-sharing brothers. The blood and sweat shed by many young Americans in the war helped Korea to achieve democracy and prosperity in the ensuing 45 years.
This afternoon, President Clinton and myself, and numerous Korean War veterans and American citizens attended the dedication ceremony of the Korean War Veterans Memorial. I think it certainly had a great historic importance of upgrading the Korean-American alliance to a higher level, and it also provided an important opportunity to reunite the American people.
America's contributions to Korea did not end there. The U.S. assisted Korea as it emerged from over three decades of colonial rule to cultivate the seeds of democracy. The Korean people were forced to tread a long, thorny path in order to realize the basic democratic principle that the people are the true masters of the nation. However, the Korean people managed to overcome every difficulty and sacrifice, and finally inaugurated a fully-civilian government.
We are grateful to the government and people of the United States for having shown sustained concern and support for the growth of democracy in the Republic of Korea. The United States has also continuously helped Korea develop a market economy. Thanks to the principles of free trade geared toward a borderless world, the Republic of Korea was able to shed the yoke of poverty, even as we faced the threat of communism. American people can take pride and pleasure in Korea's success, in our newly enjoyed full democracy and our growing prosperity.
Korea and the United States have now become partners, mutually helping each other on the road to ever greater prosperity. Korea is now a most trustworthy ally of the United States, and will continue to cooperate with you in promoting world peace and global development. You can count on us to support every American effort to further spread peace, liberty, and human rights in the world.
The Korean people are proud to call the United States as their most trusted ally. And I'm convinced that in the future our two nations will become even closer and mature partners.
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in a toast to the everlasting prosperity of the United States, the good health of President and Mrs. Clinton, and eternal friendship between our two peoples. Thank you.
(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)