“By now, you must be aware that the parents of President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea were among the 14,000 refugees who boarded the SS Meredith Victory of the United States Navy,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Madam Kang Kyung-wha to men and officers of the 2nd US Infantry Division on June 25, 2017.
June 25th is the day when the Korean War broke out 67 years ago when a well-armed North Korean Army started an all-out invasion along the entire stretch of the 38th parallel dividing the country into two harves, one half ruled by the Soviet Army major-turned Kim Il-sung and the southern half by United States-educated Dr. Syngman Rhee.
On this historical day, a truly sad day for the Korean people, Minister Kang told the US soldiers stationed in the forward area, “During the war, the US Forces fought valiantly and they successfully carried out a number of missions impossible. One of them was the well-known Hungnam Evacuation, code-named Christmas Cargo and also known as the Miracle of Christmas. It is to date the largest evacuation from land by a single ship.”
Then she said, “When he visits Washington D.C. in a few days, President Moon will invite veterans of the Hungnam Evacuation. The Republic of Korea will never forget the noble sacrifice made by the U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.” (See excerpts from her speech.)
Excerpts from the speech of Minister Kang:
Indian Head Warriors! Gentleman and Ladies! I hope a very good Sunday morning for all of you.
It is a great privilege and honor for me to meet with you this morning - freedom fighters defending the frontlines of the free world. Indeed, I am deeply honored to visit the division which came first to our help during the Korean War. It was the spearhead of the 8th United States Army that broke through the siege in Nakdong River Defense Line and pushed all the way north. And today, 2ID is the only U.S. Army division unit that is permanently forward deployed in the world. My heartfelt congratulations as you mark your centennial birthday.
On behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Korea, I express our most sincere appreciation to all members of the U.S. Forces in Korea. We are truly grateful for your selfless service, sacrifice and dedication. I also thank particularly Lieutenant General Vandal of the 8th United States Army and Brigadier General Kim, Deputy Commander of the 2ID/RUCD.
I am aware that my Sunday visit might have caused some extra work on this Sunday morning as you probably had to police the area. But the visit today is to remember today of 67 years ago when the Korean War broke out. That was also a Sunday. I am told that many foreign ministers have visited U.S. Forces on the Korean peninsula. But I am told that I am the first to do so on a day marking out-break of the war. So I am even more deeply honored that I can share this morning with all of you.
During the war, the U.S. Forces fought valiantly. It successfully carried out a number of missions impossible. One of them was the well-known Hungnam Evacuation, code-named Christmas Cargo and also known as the Miracle of Christmas. It is to date the largest evacuation from land by a single ship. You must also know by now that President Moon’s parents were part of the 14,000 refugees who boarded SS Meredith Victory.
When he visits Washington D.C. in a few days, President Moon will invite veterans of the Hungnam Evacuation. The Republic of Korea will never forget the noble sacrifice made by the U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.
In the decades after the Korean War, the ROK-U.S. Alliance has been the guardian of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula. As the Vice President Pence said during his visit in April, our two countries shed blood together. We have prospered together. And, most importantly, we will go together. For our two nations to go together, seeking greater peace and prosperity, we must resolve our common threat. That is rapidly growing threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
Thus, the ROK-US alliance stands at a critical juncture to address this existential threat from North Korea and to ensure durable peace and stability on the Peninsula. This will be a daunting challenge. But I am confident that we can together overcome it. With our ironclad, rock-solid alliance and combined defense posture, we can achieve our common goal.
Four days from now, our two Presidents will have their first meeting in Washington D.C. My President will express his appreciation for the solid ROK-U.S. alliance and your indispensable contribution. Our two leaders will discuss joint strategy on furthering our comprehensive strategic alliance. They will also be drawing big pictures on how best to address the North Korean nuclear and missile threats.
So I am indeed very glad to have made this visit today, which gives me great confidence in our combined defense posture and our great alliance. You are our heroes and heroines.
2ID Warriors, thank you for your unswerving commitment and devotion. You are truly second to none. Thank you.
Brief resume of Minister Madam Kang:
Kang Kyung-wha is the Minister of Foreign Affairs and a South Korean diplomat. In 2017 she was nominated to become the first female foreign minister of South Korea. Prior to her current appointment, Kang was Director-General of International Organization at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea.
Kang obtained her M.A. and Ph.D from University of Massachusetts Amherst, United States. In the beginning of her career, she had worked for the Seoul-based Korean Broadcasting System and lectured at universities in South Korea and the United States.
In 1998, she joined the Korea Foreign Service. Prior to that, she worked for the Speaker of the National Assembly of South Korea on global issues in the fields of human rights, women’s advancement and parliamentary diplomacy.
From 2001 to 2005, Kang was Minister at the Republic of Korea Mission to the United Nations. During that time, she served as chairwoman of the Commission on the Status of Women for its 48th and 49th session.
She was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator in the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in March 2013. Previous to this position, she served as United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights. She was appointed to this position by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in September 2006.