Congress Cheers South Korean Message

Yoon Suk Yeol addresses alliance, 'American heroes' of the Korean War
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 27, 2023 5:10 PM CDT
Congress Welcomes South Korean Message
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol addresses a joint meeting of Congress in the House chamber at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, April 27, 2023.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol urged ever more strengthening of the US-led security alliance against nuclear-armed North Korea on Thursday, drawing cheers from Congress as he saluted the "great American heroes" who helped preserve his country's democracy in the Korean War. Democratic and Republican lawmakers rose to their feet again and again to applaud during Yoon's address to a joint meeting of the House and Senate, in a speech that stressed security cooperation at a time of increased tension with both North Korea and China. Yoon also cited US-Korean high-tech trade ties creating thousands of jobs in the US. Yoon praised the US-South Korea security partnership since the Korean War seven decades ago as "the linchpin safeguarding our freedom, peace and prosperity," the AP reports.

Lawmakers roared with approval when the South Korean leader closed with, "God bless our alliance." They flocked to him afterward on the House floor, pressing him to sign their written copies of his address. Yoon's visit to Washington has focused on efforts by both countries and other allies in the Indo-Pacific to make their forces stronger, more nimble, better positioned and more resilient in the event of conflict in the region. On Wednesday, Yoon and President Biden announced an agreement for intensified nuclear deterrence to counter any North Korean threat. Biden issued a blunt warning that a nuclear attack would "result in the end of whatever regime" took such action. North Korea over the past year has carried out a record number of ballistic missile launches, demonstrating its ability to strike targets near and far, per the AP.

The US-South Korean deterrence effort announced this week calls for periodically docking U.S. nuclear-armed submarines in South Korea for the first time in decades and bolstering training between the two countries. On Thursday, Yoon paid tribute to the nearly 40,000 American troops who died helping South Korea's democratic government fight back an attempted takeover by the communist north in the 1950s. "Korea will never forget the great American heroes who fought with us to defend freedom," he said. He singled out the granddaughter of one such veteran, Col. William Weber. Dayne Weber stood and waved from the House Gallery in response, placing her hand over her heart as lawmakers applauded. Col. Weber lost an arm and leg in 1951 defending Wonju, roughly 50 miles east of Seoul. He died last year, after successfully advocating for completion of the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington. (State dinner includes a slice of "American Pie.")

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