Aan nyoung ha say yo? (Hello)
Ban gap sum needa (Nice to meet you)
Good Evening and welcome to my new home! The irony is that many of you are probably more familiar with this house than I am at this point.
In learning about its rich history, I was struck by how strongly this residence reflects the relationship between our two countries – built in traditional hanok style with the support of sturdy beams of American timber. And as you look out on the gardens, the Legation House – home to our very first diplomatic Mission in Korea – serves as a constant reminder of our 140 years of shared history. I am humbled to think that my tenure here will give me the opportunity to work with all of you all to build on the legacy of American ambassadors who came before me. But I have an advantage they didn’t.
While it is true that I have served the United States as an Ambassador or Chief of Mission in several other countries previously, I’ve never had the President show up mere weeks before my arrival, sit down with his host nation counterpart, and literally hammer out a “To Do” list for me and our Embassy team. My thanks to Presidents Biden and Yoon for the clear roadmap and sincere commitment to seeing it implemented.
I know you’re all familiar with it – some of you likely drafted it – but it lays out how we will continue to expand the ironclad security alliance we’ve built over nearly 70 years and our network of existing economic partnerships to create a comprehensive, strategic alliance firmly rooted in the shared values of promoting democracy, rule of law, and human rights.
Those marching orders from our Presidents include to further strengthen deterrence in the face of the DPRK’s destabilizing activities by reinforcing our combined defense posture and coordinating on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula; to expand cooperation to confront a range of cyber threats; and to foster joint research in space exploration.
While reiterating our common values and dedication to fair, market-based competition, our leaders tasked us to deepen cooperation on economic and energy security; strengthen the resiliency and diversity of supply chains; and enhance public and private collaboration to protect and promote critical and emerging technologies through investment, as well as joint research and development initiatives.
We’re charged with working together to combat climate change, increase health security, and foster sustainable development to advance freedom, peace, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. The ambitious list goes on and on – for six pages to be exact – but we’ll get back at it tomorrow.
Tonight, we’re here to celebrate our Nation’s independence. And in a way, that ambitious list of priorities for our strategic alliance is, for the United States, fundamentally rooted in that day 246 years ago when our Founding Fathers affirmed that all people are endowed with certain unalienable rights, to include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Because we accept that with those rights come responsibilities – particularly the responsibility to ensure others have a chance to enjoy the same freedoms that we have for nearly two and a half centuries. So tonight, I am proud to be here – proud to say that we have no better partner in that effort than the Republic of Korea.
Our presidents have set forth our shared policy priorities. In the weeks and months to come, I look forward to engaging with all of you partnering with us to accomplish them, but also to getting out and experiencing all that Korea has to offer. To getting to know the Korean people, your culture, food, music, and yes, even some of your language (be patient with me though.) I may end up binge-watching K-dramas this winter, but for now I really want to travel, explore, talk to people from every walk of life and find out what’s important to them. This is an incredibly exciting time in the relationship between our two countries, and we all need to focus our efforts to ensure the momentum we’ve generated leads to tangible benefits for both Koreans and Americans, as well as for people around the globe as our Presidents intended.
Gachi gap sheeda (We go together.)
Gam sahm needa (Thank you) and Happy Belated 4th of July.