Commemoration Remarks for Korea America Year End Friendship Night

Robert Rapson
Charge d’ Affaires ad interim, U.S. Embassy Seoul

Good evening ladies and gentlemen.
Permit me, in English, to begin by thanking President Hwang, Chairman Sohn, and the Korea America Friendship Society for inviting me to this premiere gala event celebrating our alliance. I also like to extend best wishes from my boss Ambassador Harris who very much wished he could be here tonight as well.

You all heard this before. But it bears repeating. The United States has no better friend and partner than the Republic of Korea; America’s lynch pin, an ally in the East Asia region.

Ours is an alliance forged in battle. Tempered by our shared commitment. And deepened and strengthened by successive generations of ROK and U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines as well as diplomats, civilians, and just plain ordinary citizens.

The last several decades had seen the flourishing of our bilateral partnership to include robust economic and investment relations, deepening people to people ties, and expanding joint efforts to promote democracy, the rule of law, and free and fair trade.

We are now also extending the reach of our partnership through initiatives such as our Indo-Pacific Strategy and Korea’s New Southern Policy, which will help to promote peace and prosperity throughout the region.

Over the past year and a half, under the leadership of President Trump and President Moon, we have made historic moves to break the decades long deadlock with Pyongyang. The United States remains ready to proceed, in parallel with final fully verified denuclearization, with steps to help establish an enduring peace on the Korean Peninsula.

However, as this audience knows all too well, while creating room for diplomacy to work, we must maintain readiness, And readiness is what both our terrific armed forces do so well on day-in and day-out basis. Thank you for your service that protects us all. How about a round of applause?

Tonight, I also like to take a moment to remember Specialist Nicholas Pene Pinto. A young U.S. service member who was killed in a training exercise in Pyongtaek last month.

In remembrance of his life, lost in service to his country, in the cause of security and stability on the Korean Peninsula, we are pointedly reminded that freedom is not free. Even in the time of peace, it is a struggle. And as our alliance faces challenges as it always has, we will overcome those challenges as we always do.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me close by thanking the Korea America Friendship Society for holding this wonderful event. Your good works and dedication to the alliance play such a key role in maintaining close tie and friendship between our two countries. Keep it up.

Thank you again for inviting me to speak tonight. 같이 갑시다!