Address by President Yoon Suk Yeol on the 74th Armed Forces Day

October 1, 2022

My fellow Koreans, members of the Armed Forces, distinguished guests,


I sincerely congratulate you on the 74th Armed Forces Day.


Today we come together to express our deepest respect to our heroes who sacrificed their lives to defend the freedom of our nation.


My profound gratitude and respect also go to the founding members of our military, to our veterans and reservists who are the living history of the Republic of Korea Armed Forces.


And let us not forget: those who are fulfilling their duty to defend the land, the sea, and the air of our country at this very moment; those who are deployed overseas honoring the Korean flag in all corners of the world; parents, wives and husbands, sons and daughters who are devoting themselves to support our service members, enabling them to faithfully carry out their missions; members of the United States Forces Korea and their families who are contributing to the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.


I thank you all for your dedication and hard work.


Fellow Koreans, members of the Armed Forces,


Since its founding 74 years ago, our military has fulfilled its role and responsibility as a reliable protector of the Republic of Korea.


During the Korean War, the Armed Forces defended our homeland and protected our freedom with their blood and sweat.


Despite continuous provocations and security threats from North Korea, our military has kept our country safe with impregnable defense posture.


In the face of catastrophes and disasters, our Armed Forces have dedicated themselves to protecting the lives and safety of the people, bringing them comfort and touching their hearts.


The freedom that we enjoy today – we owe it to our service members. We owe it to those patriots who have been protecting the Republic of Korea with a strong sense of duty.


Our military’s position in the world has risen dramatically from where it once was in the past.


At its founding, our military was in an awful state – under-armed and under-equipped – but today, the Republic of Korea is one of the leading countries around the world when it comes to national defense capabilities.


We have succeeded in the first test flight of KF-21, a next-generation fighter jet that we developed. We have launched ROKS Jeongjo the Great, a world-class Aegis destroyer built with our own hands.


With the recent signing of record-setting contracts to supply Poland with tanks, self-propelled howitzers and FA-50 light attack aircraft, Korea has established itself as one of the world’s largest defense industry exporters.


At the same time, our soldiers are helping to bring freedom, peace and prosperity to the international community by devoting themselves to peacekeeping and reconstruction operations around the world.


As the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and as a Korean citizen, I am incredibly proud of our military and the way it has grown into a strong force.


Fellow Koreans,


Despite the international community’s effort over the past 30 years, North Korea’s obsession with its nuclear and missile programs still continues.


Recently, North Korea officially adopted its nuclear policy through legislation, posing existential threat to the Republic of Korea.


North Korea’s nuclear program is a direct challenge to the NPT regime.


Its nuclear arsenal will only bring more suffering to the North Korean people.


In order to bring genuine peace and common prosperity on the Korean Peninsula, I urge North Korea to make the right decision - denuclearization.


Fellow Koreans, our beloved men and women in uniform,


To safeguard the universal values we enjoy – freedom, human rights and the rule of law – and to achieve sustainable peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula, we need strong national defense capabilities above all.


Our Armed Forces will maintain a robust military readiness to protect the lives and property of our people from any provocation or threat by North Korea.


If North Korea attempts to use its nuclear weapons, it will face a resolute and overwhelming response of the ROK-U.S. alliance and the Korean military.


President Biden and I solidified the ROK-U.S. security alliance through our summit talks in May and through our recent meetings in London and in New York.


The Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group meeting last month further strengthened the ability to implement extended deterrence, including the timely deployment of U.S. strategic assets.


As part of these efforts, our military conducted combined maritime exercises with the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group.


Going forward, the government will realize an ‘action-oriented alliance’ that resolutely responds to North Korean provocations and threats by expanding ROK-U.S. combined exercises and training events.


Moreover, we will complete ‘ROK 3K Defense’ as early as possible. By dramatically reinforcing our surveillance, reconnaissance and strike capabilities against North Korea, our forces will be able to overwhelm any North Korean nuclear and missile threat.


We will establish Strategic Command that integrates the advanced capabilities of the Army, Navy and Air Force, and will enhance our security capabilities in new domains including space and cyberspace.


Our proud men and women in uniform,


The Republic of Korea is confronting more serious and multi-dimensional security challenges than ever before.


In particular, now the line between security and economy is blurred, and demographic changes have left the military with a rapidly shrinking pool for conscription.


To respond to these various crises and challenges, we must utilize advanced science and technology based on the Fourth Industrial Revolution.


Through Defense Innovation 4.0 to redesign defense posture, our military must be transformed into a powerful force armed with science and technology, optimized to deal with the new security environment.


By fusing the private sector’s advanced cutting-edge science and technology to all areas of national defense through bold regulatory innovation and by establishing an AI-based Manned-Unmanned Teaming System, we must secure state-of-the-art and asymmetrical military capabilities as soon as possible.


Discipline and morale of our forces are also crucial.


All officers and soldiers must possess strict discipline and clearly recognize who our enemy is. Through practical combat drills and training, we must be ready to fight and win against any threat.


The government will provide all necessary support to ensure that our military can boldly push through its defense innovation plan.


In particular, we will create a service environment that meets the expectations of the service members who have been dedicating themselves to the country. For soldiers, we will continue to push for pay increases; we will provide better food, offer better clothing, and build better barracks. For officers, we will upgrade the command and service conditions.


Fellow Koreans, proud members of the Armed Forces, distinguished guests,


Building a strong security is the task of the military and the people alike.


Our military is ready to complete any mission entrusted by the people, and thus I can assure you, my fellow Koreans, that you can have faith in our military. Please encourage our service members and provide them with greater support.


As the Commander-in-Chief, I also trust the Republic of Korea Armed Forces. I will do my best to ensure that our heroes in uniform are rightfully respected.


The Korean government will put more effort, with the people, to properly honor those who have sacrificed and dedicated themselves to the country.


Once again, I congratulate you on the 74th Armed Forces Day. May great honor and blessing be with every member of our military.


Thank you.