August 15

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August 15

Today is the 63rd anniversary of Korea’s liberation and the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Korea.

We should commemorate Liberation Day and be proud that we founded a modern state on our own.

We were liberated suddenly when Japan surrendered and liberation thus caused division and conflict. Amid the chaos, we built the foundation of our country on Aug. 15, 1948.

Over the past 60 years, we have successfully achieved modernization, which is sufficient to make us feel proud as Koreans.

We achieved industrialization and democratization at the same time. This is not an exaggeration. This is an objective fact.

The numbers prove our economic growth. For the past 60 years, our gross domestic product grew by a factor of 746 and trade volume by a factor of 16,000.

Our national per capita income increased from $67 in 1953 to $20,000 today. Shortly after liberation, aid provided by the United States made up 85 percent of our country’s budget.

We could draw up our state budget only after the United States decided how much aid it would give us.

Our democratization process deserves credit. Among those countries that were liberated after World War II, Korea is regarded as the only country that achieved democratization and industrialization at the same time.

We have achieved our targets with our own hands. Establishing the republic was the starting point. The spirit was liberal democracy and a market economy as stipulated in the first Constitution.

The Constitution was revised nine times through turbulent times of war and revolution, but the spirit has been well preserved.

There were dark times during those periods.

After gaining independence, the Korean Peninsula became an advance base for the Cold War. We couldn’t stop the division of the country or the ensuing war.

The country’s economy developed at rapid pace, and morals and ethical values were ignored. We were desperate for the survival of our country, yet we still can’t call Korea an advanced country.

However, the spirit that we had when establishing our country 60 years ago was the right one and we achieved modernization despite difficulties.

We should get rid of the negative historical perspective that interprets the past 60 years as a time of division, dictatorship and subordination.

We should feel proud that we have cultivated success and will make our country even more successful in the future. And it shouldn’t be just narrow-minded patriotism.

We should restore our influence in international society to match our economic competence.

We also should persuade neighboring countries to help achieve peaceful reunification on the Korean Peninsula.

The young people of Korea are performing well in the Olympic Games.

Let’s cheer for them and chant “Korea” out loud, remembering the meaning of this day.

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