Congratulatory Remarks at Kor-Asia 2020 Forum

Harry Harris
U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea
Dynasty Hall, The Shilla Hotel
November 25, 2020


Good morning, everyone. Speaker Park, Prime Minister Chung, Chairman Seung, Korea Times President Oh, and the many distinguished guests out there in virtual space. I’m happy to be here today to congratulate the organizers and participants of this year’s Kor-Asia Forum. Always impressive, this year’s forum is particularly notable for happening in a year that is already one for the history books. But, like all of us, the organizers of today’s event Hankook Ilbo and Korea Times have found a way to adapt and succeed in this new normal.

The theme for this year’s forum focuses on the results of the U.S. presidential race and ways COVID-19 has affected our world. The U.S. election has seen a higher turnout – for both sides – than any presidential election in our history, showing that the United States will always be a champion of democracy, even when we are in the midst of a deadly pandemic. But, as you know and as Secretary Pompeo has said, there is a Constitutional process we still must go through. We’re getting through that process but we’re not quite there yet.

I almost pulled out of this event when the title was changed from “International Relations Following the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election” to “In the Era of Biden – The Future of Asia and the Korean Peninsula”. However, the effort by Korea Times and Hankook Ilbo to hold it, especially in this time of COVID-19, plus the audience of influencers and decision-makers, compelled me to keep to the original schedule. I’m glad to be here.

COVID-19 has affected our world in countless ways. This pandemic has shown us the true value of friendship, family, partners, and especially alliances. This year’s 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War reminds us how the U.S.-South Korean friendship, partnership, and Alliance started. And while we can’t always come together to mark the occasion, it is important for us to reflect on it. The United States and the other UN Sending States came to the aid of South Korea, helping to defend it from an invasion from the north on June 25, 1950, and helping South Korea forge its own path to become an exemplary democracy and economic powerhouse.

As we know all too well, South Korean, American, and UN Sending State lives were lost defending this country over the next three years and beyond. For example, on Friday, our thoughts will turn to those heroes who died at the Chosin Reservoir – when UN and ROK forces were attacked by 120,000 Chinese troops.

In the 70 years since to this day, our ties have only grown stronger. The United States and Republic of Korea are far more than friends or even allies. We are family. We share deeply held values. We respect one another. We always will.

Today, many in the United States are seeing first-hand the advantages of partnering in science and tech with a dynamic “innovation-nation” like the ROK, and are directly benefiting from Korea’s successful response to COVID-19. The ROK government’s response to the pandemic has been lauded as a global example, and rightly so. “Follow the rules and follow the science” seems simple in concept but hard in execution. The ROKG has made both work. Let me give well-deserved shout-out to Director of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency Jung Eun-kyeong.

I leave you with this thought: Our Alliance is ironclad and always will be. We fought together. We died together. We create together. We learn together. We succeed together. We go together. Kachi Kapsida. Kamsahamnida.