Address by President Yoon Suk Yeol on Korea's 78th Liberation Day2023.08.15
Address by President Yoon Suk Yeol on Korea's 78th Liberation Day
August 15, 2023
My fellow Koreans, 7.5 million compatriots living abroad,
Today we mark the 78th Liberation Day.
I pay tribute to our fallen forebears and patriots who sacrificed and dedicated
themselves for our independence.
I also wish to express my deep gratitude to their families.
Our independence movement was to build a nation that is free and democratic; a
nation where the people are its rightful owners; and a nation where freedom,
human rights and the rule of law reign supreme.
It was not to just reclaim our sovereignty nor to return to monarchy.
It was never an attempt to establish a communist totalitarian state where
freedom and human rights are ignored.
Thus, from the perspective of the whole humankind, our independence
movement was universal and just.
Even after regaining sovereignty, our independence movement carried on. We
fought to defend our nation’s freedom against communist aggression. We
achieved industrial and economic development and democratization.
The movement still continues to this day. Inheriting the spirit of our
independence movement, we now envision a global pivotal state that fulfills its
roles and responsibilities in the international community for the freedom, peace
and prosperity of global citizens.
We must properly remember those who gave their all to defend the freedoms of
our people; to bring independence to our country; and to uphold the universal
Remembering and honoring them in a right way is vital and essential for the
national identity and continuity of the Republic of Korea.
My fellow Koreans,
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice Agreement
and the ROK-U.S. alliance.
Alongside the United Nations forces, we fought the communist invasion in
defense of our freedom. After the war, we accomplished industrialization. The
world calls Korea’s amazing success the “Miracle on the Han River.”
The wise decisions of our leaders to build a liberal democracy as well as to
forge the ROK-U.S. alliance, and the hard work of our people have enabled the
Republic of Korea to achieve phenomenal growth and prosperity that have
astounded the world.
By contrast, North Korea has stuck to its totalitarian and repressive rule over the
same 70 years. It remained unable to escape from its horrendous poverty and
The stark differences between the Republic of Korea that opted for and pursued
freedom and democracy and North Korea that chose communist totalitarianism
could not be any clearer.
Nonetheless, still rampant are anti-state forces that blindly follow communist
totalitarianism, distort public opinion, and disrupt the society through
In a divided nation, the confrontation between liberal democracy and
communist totalitarianism is a reality. And the activities of those anti-state
groups are likely to persist.
As the totalitarian forces disrupt and attack our societies, they take full
advantage of the legal rights enshrined in free societies. That is the way they
The forces of communist totalitarianism have always disguised themselves as
democracy activists, human rights advocates or progressive activists while
engaging in despicable and unethical tactics and false propaganda.
We must never succumb to the forces of communist totalitarianism. We must
not be deceived by those who follow and serve them.
At this critical juncture, having faith is of utmost importance. We must stand
united in the spirit of solidarity, with an enduring conviction that freedom and
democracy will always prevail.
Since I took office, my administration has vigorously sought cooperation on
security and cutting-edge technology with countries that share universal values
of freedom, human rights and the rule of law.
The ROK-U.S. alliance, forged from universal values, is an alliance of peace
Korea and Japan are now partners who share universal values and pursue
As partners that cooperate on security and the economy, Korea and Japan will
be able to jointly contribute to peace and prosperity across the globe while
collaborating and exchanging in a future-oriented manner.
Notably, the significance of ROK-U.S.-Japan trilateral security cooperation is
increasingly growing on the Korean Peninsula and in the region.
In order to fundamentally block North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats, the
Republic of Korea, the United States and Japan must closely cooperate on
reconnaissance assets and share North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles
data in real time.
The seven rear bases provided to the United Nations Command(UNC) by the
government of Japan serve as the greatest deterrent which keeps the North from
invading the South.
A renewed North Korean invasion will trigger an automatic and immediate
intervention and retaliation by the UNC, and the UNC-rear in Japan is
sufficiently equipped with necessary land, sea and air capabilities.
The UNC is a great example of international solidarity that has played a key
role in firmly safeguarding the Republic of Korea’s freedom “under one flag.”
The ROK-U.S.-Japan summit to be held at Camp David in three days will set a
new milestone in trilateral cooperation contributing to peace and prosperity on
the Korean Peninsula and in the Indo-Pacific region.
Security of the Korean Peninsula and the Indo-Pacific region is deeply linked to
the security in the Atlantic and Europe.
Accordingly, strengthening cooperation with NATO is also of great importance.
Because the Republic of Korea’s security is very much aligned with the security
of the Indo-Pacific region, the Atlantic, Europe and the world.
The Republic of Korea should conduct a responsible and contributive
diplomacy in all regions around the world. It is not only a way to contribute to
freedom, peace and prosperity globally, but also to foster Korea’s own freedom,
peace, and prosperity.
The government putting its resources and efforts in Official Development
Assistance(ODA), international development projects, and in assisting Ukraine
for its freedom and peace is ultimately promoting Korea’s freedom, peace, and
While steadfastly implementing the “Audacious Initiative” to build peace by
overwhelming force, the government will also work together with the
international community to make the North Korean regime stop advancing its
nuclear and missile programs and embark on a path to dialogue and
cooperation, which will lead to better livelihoods of its people.
My fellow Koreans,
Since my inauguration, the government has been working tirelessly to protect
freedom and democracy and to set right the toppled free market economy even
amid internal and external challenges as well as the difficulties stemming from
the global polycrisis.
A robust ROK-U.S. alliance, and working together in solidarity with countries
who share universal values, are foundational for Korea’s economic development
and prosperity, since our economy is highly dependent on international trade.
Cooperation in life-and-death matters result in deeper economic partnerships
and closer cooperation on cutting-edge science and technology where peoples’
livelihoods are at stake.
The government has been doing all it can to increase exports, invite more
foreign investments, and expand cooperation on state-of-the-art science and
technology through active sales diplomacy undergirded by strong global
We have built a solid foundation for a market economy centered on businesses
and the private sector; we worked at normalizing the real estate market; and –
for the sake of our future generations – we tackled unconstrained, reckless fiscal
spending and established policies for fiscal soundness.
The government adopted the consideration and assistance for the socially
disadvantaged and the vulnerable as key social policies, boldly shifting the
focus of its fiscal spending from politically motivated handouts to the welfare of
In order to achieve sustainable economic growth and create decent jobs, the
principles of a market economy must function properly and a fair and just
compensation system must be put in place.
To establish fairness and the rule of law, we must stamp out illegal activities by
special-interest cartels. In particular, we must root out the construction industry
cartel that endangers the safety of the people through shoddy construction
“Killer” regulations that impede investment will be swiftly removed, and
scientific and technological innovation will be pursued by reforming our R&D
funding system to ensure that the most promising areas receive a greater share
of state funding.
Human resources are the key to competitiveness in science and technology.
After all, it is all about cultivating talented individuals.
The government will boldly invest in cutting-edge science and technology, the
engines of future growth. Higher education will be innovated to promote
multidisciplinary collaboration in order to nurture talented individuals well
suited for convergence.
Moreover, we will normalize our schools and make sure that teachers’ authority
is respected in classrooms, which will in turn effectively guarantee students’
We need discipline in our classrooms. Let the authority of our educators be
respected. And discipline will follow.
Even in the darkest times, when few of us believed in the possibility of
reclaiming our sovereignty within our life time, we dreamed of building a free
and democratic nation where the people are its rightful owners.
The journey of the Republic of Korea that began as a quest for freedom has
brought us not only freedom and independence but also peace and prosperity.
We should now embrace our historic mandate: contributing with responsibility
to the freedom, peace and prosperity of citizens around the world.
To fulfill this calling, the journey we embarked on long ago in search of
freedom must continue.
We are no longer alone in our journey. Our friends and partners from all around
the world stand with us and support us.
As a Korean citizen, I am proud of all of you. I am proud of us. Because we – as
Koreans – came all the way together. Because both in times of hardship and
glory, we pushed forward together in search of freedom.