Joint Press Conference with South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung
The Blue House
Seoul, Republic of Korea
February 20, 2002
11:15 A.M. (L)
PRESIDENT KIM DAE-JUNG: I would like to give my presentation. First, on behalf
of the Korean people, I would like to warmly welcome President Bush and thank
him for taking time out of the war against terrorism to visit our country. This
visit is the first by President Bush since his inauguration, and it is also
the first by an American President in the 21st century. It is for this reason
that this visit will lay the foundation for future progress in Korean-U.S. relations
in this century.
During today's meeting, President Bush and I recognized that the Korea-U.S.
alliance is indispensable not only for stability on the Korean Peninsula, but
also in Northeast Asia as a whole. Furthermore, President Bush and I expressed
satisfaction that the bilateral alliance is not limited to cooperation in security
matters, but that the comprehensive partnership has expanded and developed to
all areas, including political, economic and diplomatic arenas.
President Bush and I exchanged views about the war against terrorism and future
course of action. I praised President Bush for the success in the war against
terrorism under his outstanding leadership, and indicated that Korea as an ally
would do its utmost to cooperate and provide full support.
President Bush and I agreed to work with mutually consistent objectives and
strategies in close consultation in pursuing the North Korean policy. I greatly
appreciate President Bush's staunch support for our sunshine policy, as well
as the U.S.'s unconditional proposal to dialogue with North Korea.
President Bush and I also discussed in-depth issues related to the threat of
WMD proliferation such as the possibility of terrorists obtaining WMDs, and
U.S. efforts to deter their spread across the world. In this regard, we also
concurred that the objective is to resolve the issue of North Korean WMDs and
missiles at an early date through dialogue. To this end, we agreed that Korea-U.S.
joint efforts were necessary.
President Bush and I concurred that continued expansion and progress of bilateral,
economic and trade relations are in the interest of both our countries. Furthermore,
we also agreed to further deepen cooperative relations at the multilateral level,
such as the WTO -- development agenda.
I am more than satisfied with the frank and open exchange of views I had with
President Bush this morning on numerous issues. I would like to take this opportunity
to express my heartfelt gratitude to President Bush for the interest he has
expressed in peace on the Korean Peninsula, for the unparalleled affection he
has for Korea, as well as the efforts and enthusiasm he has demonstrated in
the development of bilateral relations.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you, Mr. President. It is such an honor to be here. Laura
and I are grateful for your hospitality and the hospitality of First Lady Hee-ho.
We look forward to a full day in your beautiful country.
The President is right, we had a great meeting. It was so good that we didn't
want to go into the meeting room where there was more people. We had a very
frank exchange. And that's important when you're friends, to be able to discuss
issues in depth.
A lot of times I find in the diplomatic world that people want to gloss over
issues, they don't want to spend much time really understanding each other's
positions. Because of our friendship, because of the friendship between our
countries, we had a very frank exchange and a positive exchange, and one that
allows me to safely say that this relationship is 50 years old, the relationship
between South Korea and America. And it's seen a lot of problems, and we've
dealt with those problems together. And I'm confident we'll be dealing with
problems 50 years from now in a spirit of cooperation and openness.
I understand how important this relationship is to our country, and the United
States is strongly committed to the security of South Korea. We'll honor our
commitments. Make no mistake about it that we stand firm behind peace in the
Peninsula. And no one should ever doubt that, Mr. President. No one should ever
doubt that this is a vital commitment for our nation.
It's also vital that we continue to trade together. And so we obviously discussed
issues of the -- security issues on the Peninsula; we also discussed ways to
make sure our trade was more open and fair to both sides.
I'm very impressed by the amount of investment capital, foreign capital that
has come into South Korea in the last four years. It's a testimony to a country
that understands open markets and freedom. And I'm going up to the DMZ here
in a little bit, and it's going to be an interesting contrast, to talk about
the benefits and the dividends of freedom. And part of those is an economy that
is vibrant and improving, thanks to structural reforms.
I assured the President we're doing everything we can in our country, as well,
to make sure our economy recovers. It's hard to be a good trading partner if
you don't have a good economy, and we're beginning to see signs that there's
economic vitality in America, which will be good for our partners here in South
Korea as well.
And, of course, we talked about North Korea. And I made it very clear to the
President that I support his sunshine policy. And I'm disappointed that the
other side, the North Koreans, will not accept the spirit of the sunshine policy.
We talked about family reunifications, the displaced family initiative that
he started, which I think is a great initiative. And yet only 3,600 families,
I believe it was, have been allowed to reunite. I asked him how many -- what's
the potential, what are the potential families on both sides of the DMZ that
could reunite. He said, 10 million people.
In order to make sure there's sunshine, there needs to be two people, two sides
involved. And I praised the President's efforts. And I wonder out loud why the
North Korean President won't accept the gesture of goodwill that the South Korean
President has so rightfully offered. And I told him that we, too, would be happy
to have a dialogue with the North Koreans. I've made that offer. And yet there
has been no response.
Some in this country are -- obviously have read about my very strong comments
about the nature of the regime. And let me explain why I made the comments I
did. I love freedom. I understand the importance of freedom in people's lives.
I'm troubled by a regime that tolerates starvation. I worry about a regime that
is closed and not transparent. I'm deeply concerned about the people of North
Korea. And I believe that it is important for those of us who love freedom to
stand strong for freedom and make it clear the benefits of freedom.
And that's exactly why I said what I said about the North Korean regime. I know
what can happen when people are free; I see it right here in South Korea. And
I'm passionate on the subject, and I believe so strongly in the rights of the
individual that I, Mr. President, will continue to speak out.
Having said that, of course, as you and I discussed, we're more than willing
to speak out publicly and speak out in private with the North Korean leadership.
And, again, I wonder why they haven't taken up our offer.
This is going to be a great visit for us, Mr. President. It's going to be a
great visit because it's a chance for me to say clearly to the South Korean
people, we value our friendship, we appreciate your country, we share the same
values and we'll work together to make sure that our relationship improves even
better as we go into the 21st century.
Mr. President, thank you, sir.
QUESTION: First, I have a question for President Kim. There is a difference
between the axis of evil and the sunshine policy. Do you feel that the gap was
overcome during this summit? And right now, the Korean people are concerned
about how inter-Korean relations will develop following the summit. How do you
perceive the inter-Korean relations to develop in the future?
PRESIDENT KIM DAE-JUNG: In my view, I believe that the U.S. policy and the Korean
policy are fundamentally similar and there are no major differences. We both
believe in democracy and a market economy. Furthermore, we are allies. Korea
and the U.S. are strong allies, and I believe that this is important and vital
for the national interest of both our countries. And so that's our top priority.
Furthermore, in matters related to North Korea, regarding the WMD, or missiles,
or nuclear issues, our views have coincided. And during the summit meeting this
morning, I believe that there was no difference in opinion between our two leaders.
And we believe that it is through dialogue that we will be able to resolve this
issue, and we agreed on this point.
Therefore, recently in the press, there were some indications that there might
be some difference of opinion. But during the conversation that I had this morning
with President Bush, we were able to reconfirm that there is no difference of
opinion between Korea and the U.S. And in the future, regarding North Korean
issues, we were able to reaffirm that we have made the proposal to North Korea
to dialogue, and it is through dialogue that we hope to resolve all of the issues.
And so we hope that North Korea will, at an early date, accept our proposal,
and that inter-Korean dialogue and dialogue between North Korea and the U.S.
On September 15th, there was the fifth inter-Korean inter-ministerial meeting,
and several issues were decided. There were 10 agreements made regarding the
meeting of separated families and the re-linking of the Kyong-E railroad line,
and we are implementing these agreements. Thank you.
MR. FLEISCHER: Mr. Jim Angle from Fox Television.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, some South Koreans, perhaps
even President Kim, had some concerns about your comments about the axis of
evil and North Korea. How do you think your approach fits with and helps the
And if I may, President Kim, did you have any misgivings, sir, about the President
including North Korea in the axis of evil? And, secondly, why do you think that
North Korea is genuine about opening up? We have heard here about their failure
to participate in the reunification of families. They haven't built their end
of the rail line, and they refuse to talk to the U.S. What makes you think they're
sincere in wanting to open up?
PRESIDENT BUSH: You know, during our discussion, President Kim reminded me a
little bit about American history, when he said that President Reagan referred
to Russia as the "evil empire" -- and, yet, was then able to have
constructive dialogue with Mr. Gorbachev.
I will believe -- I will not change my opinion on the man, on Kim Jong-il until
he frees his people and accepts genuine proposals from countries such as South
Korea or the United States to dialogue; until he proves to the world that he's
got a good heart, that he cares about the people that live in his country.
I am concerned about a country that is not transparent, that allows for starvation,
that develops weapons of mass destruction. I care very deeply about it because
it is in the neighborhood of one of our very close friends. I don't see -- and
so, therefore, I think the burden of proof is on the North Korean leader, to
prove that he does truly care about people and that he is not going to threaten
We're peaceful people. We have no intention of invading North Korea. South Korea
has no intention of attacking North Korea, nor does America. We're purely defensive.
And the reason we have to be defensive is because there is a threatening position
on the DMZ. But we long for peace. It is in our nation's interest that we achieve
peace on the Peninsula.
I also want to remind the world that our nation provides more food to the North
Korean people than any nation in the world. We are averaging nearly 300,000
tons of food a year. And so, obviously, my comments about evil was toward a
regime, toward a government -- not toward the North Korean people. We have great
sympathy and empathy for the North Korean people. We want them to have food.
And at the same time, we want them to have freedom. And we will work in a peaceful
way to achieve that objective.
That was the purpose of our summit today, to reconfirm that our nation -- my
nation is interested in a peaceful resolution of the -- here on the Korean Peninsula.
And at the same time, of course, I made it clear that we would honor our commitments
to help South Korea defend herself, if need be.
I think we had a question for the President.
QUESTION: Mr. Mike Allen, of The Washington Post.
PRESIDENT BUSH: He got cut off, I think. He just got filibustered. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Mr. President, in Beijing, do you plan to meet with any political
dissidents or Christian activists? How did you decide that? And what do you
plan to do to try to persuade the Chinese government to extend more rights to
PRESIDENT BUSH: Mike, I am not exactly sure of all the details of my schedule
yet, since I'm focused here on this incredibly important relationship. I can
tell you that in my last visit with President Jiang I shared with him my faith.
I talked to him on very personal terms about my Christian beliefs. I explained
to him that faith had an incredibly important part in my life, and it has a
very important part in the lives of all kinds of citizens, and that I would
hope that he, as a President of a great nation, would understand the important
role of religion in an individual's life. That's why I put it in that context.
I then segued into discussions about the Catholic Church, and I will do so again
-- I will bring up the need that there be a -- that I would hope the government
would honor the request of the Papal Nuncio to be able at least have dialogue
about bishops that are interned there. And I also talked about the Dalai Lama,
as well as Christian faiths, and I will do so again.
As to what my schedule is and who I'm going to see, I'm not sure yet, Mike.
QUESTION: I first have a question for President Bush. During your presentation
you said that you are ready to dialogue with North Korea at any time, anywhere.
If North Korea accepts, then will you continue with the economic aid to North
Korea? And, also, in order to tell Pyongyang that you are ready to dialogue,
are you willing to send an envoy?
My next question is to President Kim. You said that you are satisfied with the
summit meeting. What do you feel is the biggest achievement of the summit meeting?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, first, dialogue or no dialogue, we will continue to send
food to the North Korean people. I reiterate, our issue is not with the North
Korean people. As a matter of fact, we have great sympathy for the North Korean
people. Any people that live under a despotic regime is -- has our sympathy.
And so I presume that's the economic aid we're referring to. We will send food.
As to how any dialogue were to begin, it obviously takes two willing parties.
And as people in our government know, last June, I made the decision that we
would extend the offer for dialogue. We just haven't heard a response back yet.
And how we end up doing that is a matter of the diplomats. The great Secretary
of State will be able to handle the details. But the offer stands, and if anybody's
listening involved with the North Korean government, they know that the offer
is real, and I reiterate it today.
PRESIDENT KIM DAE-JUNG: Yes, at this morning's summit meeting, I believe, that
I am most satisfied with the fact that we were able to have a frank and open
discussion and we were able to reconfirm that we are close allies -- not only
are our two countries allies, but I believe that we have become close personal
friends, as well. And so I believe that we will be able to learn a lot from
each other and that we will be able to understand each other more and better
in the future. And we were able to have an open and frank dialogue, and I am
most satisfied about that.
And the second point is that at today's summit meeting, even before we had the
summit meeting, we had agreed that we would talk on the four main issues and
that we wanted to have concrete results on four areas, and that is to reconfirm
the Korea-U.S. alliance. The second was to fight against terrorism, and that
we would work on a global scale in order to uproot terrorism, and that we would
continue to cooperate in order to do so. And, third, is for the North Korean
WMDs and missile issue must be resolved. And this is, more than any other country
in the world, it is a matter directly related to the security issue of Korea.
The fourth issue is that for inter-Korean relations, to resolve the current
issues such as the WMDs and the missile issue, we must resolve these issues
And so, regarding these four points, I concurred and I agreed with President
Bush, and as was mentioned earlier, President Bush is more than ready to dialogue
with North Korea. And he has reiterated his position. And the Korean people,
I believe, will be assuaged by this reiteration. And I believe that President
Bush's visit to Korea will reaffirm the alliance between our two countries and
will also lay the foundation for inter-Korean relations and improvement in those
In the future, regarding economic issues, and also the Winter Olympics which
are being held in Salt Lake City, and also the World Cup, we are going to have
to deal with security issues, and we agree that there will be a lot of cooperation
between our two countries in order to ensure the security in those events.
This concludes the joint press conference. Thank you very much.