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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs > Releases > Remarks > 2002 East Asian and Pacific Affairs Remarks, Testimony, and Speeches

President Bush Visits Demilitarized Zone

President Bush
Remarks at Dorasan Train Station
Dorasan, Republic of Korea
February 20, 2002

PRESIDENT BUSH:  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 the state.

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 dangerous weapons.

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.

May God bless you all.  (Applause) 

Released by the White House
Office of the Press Secretary

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