Pence says U.S. will remain committed to defense of South Korea
Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said that the United States would remain committed to the defense of South Korea in the face of what he described as "provocations" by nuclear-armed North Korea in a speech in Seoul on Friday that tied the two countries' security alliance to broader U.S. support for "freedom-loving countries" under threat worldwide.
Speaking at a special guest lecture on the theme of "Current International Affairs and the Strong U.S.-R.O.K. Alliance" at the Westin Chosun Hotel in Jung District, Seoul on Friday, the former vice president said that the alliance between South Korea and the United States would stand against North Korea’s renewed testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and that there would be no loosening of U.S. military commitment to South Korea’s defense.
The lecture was hosted by Island Resort The Heaven and co-sponsored by the Korea Peace Foundation, led by Hong Seok-hyun, chairman of JoongAng Holdings, and the Far East Broadcasting Corporation.
Condemning North Korea’s latest ICBM test in the “strongest possible terms,” Pence commended outgoing South Korean President Moon Jae-in and current U.S. President Joe Biden for “working to strengthen our commitment to our common defense,” while also expressing his confidence that “the bonds of friendship and partnership will grow even stronger” under the incoming administration of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol.
Even as the trajectory of North’s latest ICBM launch seemed to suggest that the recalcitrant regime now possesses a missile capable of reaching the continental United States, the former vice president warned North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that the U.S. would not “tire” of its treaty promise to defend South Korea.
Pence also echoed Yoon’s campaign message that South Korea should seek to deter North Korean aggression with a posture of “peace through strength,” using the phrase to describe the U.S. position not only in the Asia-Pacific region, but also in Europe.
Repeatedly invoking the terms “the free world” and “freedom-loving nations” to refer to the United States and its allies, the former vice president urged such countries to stand firm against attempts to “trample the liberty or the boundaries of our friends and allies” and send an “unambiguous message that aggression will not be tolerated.”
Speaking in stark, almost biblical terms, Pence warned that “weakness arouses evil” and raised the specter that “countries like China and North Korea,” which he described as “watching very closely to determine whether the free world will stand together” in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, could perceive inaction from the United States and its allies as an opening to threaten South Korea and Taiwan, a self-governing island that mainland China claims is a renegade province.
The former vice president’s speech drew a large gathering of dignitaries from across the upper echelons of South Korean politics, business and religious communities. Attendees included Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong; former prime ministers Chung Un-chan and Kim Hwang-sik; former Foreign Minister Yoo Myung-hwan; Democratic Party lawmaker Kim Jin-pyo; former People Power Party (PPP) lawmaker Na Kyung-won; current PPP lawmaker Park Jin; and former Bareunmirae Party leader Sohn Hak-kyu.
Also in attendance were Chung Mong-joon, chairman of the Asan Foundation; Shin Sung-chul, former president of KAIST; Lee Bae-yong, former president of Ewha Womans University; Noh Seung-sook, former chairman of the Kukmin Ilbo; Kim Jin-oh, president of the Christian Broadcasting Corporation; and Lee Ha-kyung, editor-in-chief of the JoongAng Ilbo.
BY MICHAEL LEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]