Visits Demilitarized Zone
Dorasan Train Station
Dorasan, Republic of Korea
February 20, 2002
2:55 P.M. (L)
Mr. President, it's a great honor to be here as your guest. Your love of democracy
and example of courage have changed Korea, have challenged Asia, and inspired
the great respect of my government and my country.
All your life you have seen the hope of change and progress where few could
imagine it. You have shown that sometimes the conscience and will of a single
individual can move history. I admire your visionary leadership, and I thank
you for your hospitality to Laura and me.
We gather today surrounded by reminders of the challenges to peace and stability
on the Korean Peninsula. President Kim has just showed me a road he built --
a road for peace. And he's shown me where that road abruptly ends, right here
at the DMZ. That road has the potential to bring the peoples on both sides of
this divided land together, and for the good of all the Korean people, the North
should finish it.
Traveling south on that road, the people of the North would see not a threat,
but a miracle of peaceful development. Asia's third largest economy that has
risen from the ruins of war. The people of the North would see more than physical
wealth, they would see the creativity and spiritual freedom represented here
today. They would see a great and hopeful alternative to stagnation and starvation.
And they would find friends and partners in the rebuilding of their country.
South Korea is more than a successful nation, it is an example to the world.
When nations embrace freedom, they find economic and social progress. When nations
accept the rules of the modern world, they find the benefits of the modern world.
And when nations treat men and women with dignity, they find true greatness.
When satellites take pictures of the Korean Peninsula at night, the South is
awash in light. The North is almost completely dark. Kim Dae-jung has put forward
a vision that can illuminate the whole Peninsula. We want all the Koreans to
live in the light. (Applause.)
My vision is clear: I see a Peninsula that is one day united in commerce and
cooperation, instead of divided by barbed wire and fear. Korean grandparents
should be free to spend their final years with those they love. Korean children
should never starve while a massive army is fed. No nation should be a prison
for its own people. No Korean should be treated as a cog in the machinery of
And as I stated before the American Congress just a few weeks ago, we must not
permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most
I speak for these convictions even as we hope for dialogue with the North. America
provides humanitarian food assistance to the people of North Korea, despite
our concerns about the regime. We're prepared to talk with the North about steps
that would lead to a better future, a future that is more hopeful and less threatening.
But like this road left unbuilt, our offer has gone unanswered.
Some day we all hope the stability of this Peninsula will be built on the reconciliation
of its two halves. Yet today, the stability of this Peninsula is built on the
great alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States.
All of Asia, including North Korea, knows that America will stand firmly --
will stand firmly -- with our South Korean allies. (Applause.) We will sustain
our obligations with honor. Our forces and our alliance are strong, and this
strength is the foundation of peace on the Peninsula.
American forces receive generous support from our South Korean hosts, and we
are very grateful. Today we are increasing the effectiveness of our military
forces, even as U.S. troops become a less intrusive presence in Korea, itself.
Americans are also very grateful for the tremendous outpouring of sympathy and
support shown by the South Korean people following the terror of September the
11th. Today, both our nations are cooperating to fight against terror, proving
that our alliance is both regional and global.
The United States and South Korea are bound by common interests. Our alliance
is defined by common values. We deeply value our own liberty and we care about
the liberty of others. Like the United States, South Korea has become a beacon
of freedom, showing to the world the power of human liberty to bring down walls
and uplift lives.
Today, across the mines and barbed wire, that light shines brighter than ever.
It shines not as a threat to the North, but as an invitation. People on both
sides of this border want to live in freedom and want to live in dignity, without
the threat of violence and famine and war. I hope that one day soon this hope
will be realized. And when that day comes, all the people of Korea will find
in America a strong and willing friend.