President Yoon pledges S. Korea would play role of 'compass for freedom' at US Congress

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : April 28, 2023, 13:37 Updated : May 1, 2023, 13:37

[Yonhap News Photo]

SEOUL -- President Yoon Suk-yeol has told members of the U.S. Congress that South Korea would play the role of "compass for freedom" along with the United States. The statement was made during a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress designed to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the two nations' alliance in Washington, DC.  
The keyword of Yoon's speech on April 27 was "freedom," which was mentioned a total of 45 times. Yoon said during the speech: "Those who cherish freedom also respect the freedom of others. Thus, freedom brings peace. Peace, in turn, safeguards freedom. Freedom and peace are sources of creativity and innovation."
Yoon has also highlighted South Korea's coordination with the U.S. should curb North Korea's threat, stressing the "trilateral security cooperation" between South Korea, the U.S., and Japan should be accelerated against Pyongyang's increasing nuclear threat. "North Korea's obsession with nuclear weapons and missiles is throwing its population into a severe economic crisis and human rights abuses," the South Korean leader said. "We must not shy away from our duty to promote freedom for North Koreans."
Yoon received a standing ovation from U.S. lawmakers when he said "Korea strongly condemns the unprovoked armed attack against Ukraine." Although the president claimed the ongoing war in Ukraine is against international law, the armed invasion of Ukraine, he did not directly mention "Russia" in his speech. 
The 44-minute speech was delivered in English. Yoon is the seventh South Korean president to give a speech at the U.S. Congress. Among the seven presidents, four leaders including Yoon delivered their speeches in English. Ahead of the speech, Yoon was invited to a state dinner at the White House and surprised U.S. President Joe Biden and other attendees by singing "American Pie," a song by American singer-songwriter Don McLean. 

Yoon embarked on his seven-day state visit to the U.S. with First Lady Kim Geon-hee on April 24. Prior to the Congress speech, Yoon and Biden affirmed that commitment to the defense of the people and territories of the two countries through a joint statement called the "Washington Declaration." The two leaders have agreed to extend deterrence against Pyongyang through the deployment of U.S. nuclear-capable platforms around the Korean peninsula. 

Prior to a summit meeting with Biden, Yoon met with Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos and welcomed Netflix's $2.5 billion investment plan in South Korea's content industry. 
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