[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[June 9, 1998]
[Pages 915-916]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks Welcoming President Kim Dae-jung of South Korea
June 9, 1998

    I am proud to welcome President Kim Dae-jung 
and the entire Korean delegation to the United States and to the White 
    We live in remarkable times. In the 1980's, some of the greatest 
heroes of freedom were the political prisoners of repressive regimes: 
Lech Walesa in Poland, Vaclav Havel in Czechoslovakia, Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and Kim Dae-jung, who faced a death 
sentence in South Korea after years of unjust and brutal treatment by 
the government.
    How very different things are now. Lech Walesa was elected Poland's President; Vaclav Havel and Nelson Mandela are the 
Presidents of their countries; and Kim Dae-jung is here today as 
President, after the first-ever democratic change of power from the 
governing party to the opposition in the 50-year history of the Republic 
of Korea.
    The irresistible longing for freedom, human rights, and democracy 
has carried Kim Dae-jung to the Presidency of his country and now back 
to America, where he once lived in exile and where there has long been 
strong bipartisan support for Korean democracy.
    Mr. President, you have the admiration of the American people. We 
will work together to deepen democracy and economic opportunity.
    President Kim has spoken of the powerful link between democratic 
governments and market economies. In the 21st century, nations will not 
be able to sustain great economic power unless their people are 
empowered, free to speak their minds and create their own futures, 
unless there is equal opportunity and the rule of law.
    America strongly supports the economic reforms President Kim is 
pursuing: opening markets, making financial institutions, businesses,

[[Page 916]]

and government more accountable. We will work with South Korea as it 
moves toward a full recovery and broader prosperity, with increased 
trade and investment that will benefit both our nations.
    Mr. President, your leadership will guide Korea's economic recovery, 
but so will your example. If one man can triumph over such great 
adversity, then surely the Korean people can surmount their current 
challenges. The American people, including more than 1 million Korean-
Americans who contribute so very much to our country, stand with you.
    Let me also reaffirm America's steadfast commitment to our security 
alliance. We will continue working together for peace and stability on 
the Korean Peninsula and across Asia.
    As President, I stood on the Bridge of No Return where I saw the 
sacrifices made by American and South Korean troops to protect freedom. 
I also saw the young North Korean soldiers on the other side and 
imagined a future where people from North and South could walk freely 
across that bridge.
    We strongly support South Korea's efforts to find common ground with 
North Korea. The United States also will continue to participate with 
China in the four-party efforts to build a permanent peace.
    Let me conclude by saying something to men and women all around the 
world who work to protect human rights: Your work matters. You help 
transform nations and end tyranny. You save lives. Standing with me 
today is living proof--Kim Dae-jung, a human rights pioneer, a 
courageous survivor, and America's partner in building a better future 
for the world.
    Today let us celebrate the freedom that has brought so much hope to 
the end of the 20th century. But let us also strengthen our efforts to 
build even greater democracy and peace and prosperity for all our 
children in the 21st century.
    Mr. President, again, welcome to the White House, and welcome back 
to America.

Note: The President spoke at 10:50 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White