02/19/16 – Ambassador Mark W. Lippert Remarks at Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea Headquarters Building, Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Mark Lippert

Ambassador Mark Lippert
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Busan, Republic of Korea
February 19, 2016 :

AMBASSADOR LIPPERT:  Good afternoon everyone.  (Remarks in Korean).

So I basically said, welcome everybody, great to be here.  Especially because I am a sailor, I am particularly honored to be here today.  Admiral Byrne, you’re right.  It feels good to be in a Navy town. No offense, General Scaparrotti.  But Admiral Lee, General Scaparrotti, Admiral Byrne, Director Kim, all the men and women who worked so hard to bring us to this day, I just wanted to say thank you.  Thank you for all you’ve done to make this a reality.  

I just want to make three points because, quite frankly, it’s already been said much more eloquently in both English and Korean than I could possibly say.  But, let me just make three quick points.  First, I think what today represents is the deep and growing partnership between our militaries and our countries in that we are continually committed to bringing the most modern, the most capable platforms here, the smartest people, and updating our doctrine, our plans, to make this the most capable, the most effective alliance in the world and I think this is the physical embodiment of that.

Second, I think it also represents the trusted foundation upon which this alliance is built.  In other words, this was part of the Yongsan Relocation Plan, all of our efforts on those agreements that happened many years ago.  And what it shows is once we agree on something, once we commit to something in this alliance, we follow through on it.  And I think that is the foundation on which the greater efficacy, the greater efforts of this alliance are built.  

And finally, let me just make one quick parochial point about what this means for our presence here in Busan.   In 1998, it was unfortunate that we closed the consulate here.  It’s not something that I think we’re particularly proud of.  But we have, I think, clawed our way back.  In 2007, we opened the American Presence Post which I think was a step in the right direction.  This is another big step.  And I think we are going to continue to look across all elements of the United States government on how we can engage more deeply, more robustly and in a more fulsome manner with the great people here in this fantastic city of Busan.  And it’s not just the government.  We’re also looking for economic means, cultural means, and other ways to increase our presence, increase what we’re doing down here in this dynamic, vibrant, historic town of Busan.

So once again, I just want to say thank you to everyone who made this day possible.  It’s an honor to be here.  Thank you for the invitation, Admiral Byrne.  Once again, I think this is an embodiment of our past, our great working relationship of the present and where we’re headed in the future.  So to CNFK, chukha hamnida, kamsa hamnida, katchi kapshida.