“No Hostile Intent” Toward North Korea: US President Obama at Hankuk University

[The following are excerpts of a speech by US President Barack Obama to students of Hankuk University in Seoul, ROK. The text is from a release by the White House Office of the Press Secretary, dated “For Immediate Release March 26, 2012, 10:32 a.m. KST, Seoul, Republic of Korea”. We have pulled out those sections of the speech related directly to the DPRK. –CanKor]

US President Barack Obama speaks to DPRK leaders during a speech at Hankuk University in Seoul on Monday. (Photo by Susan Walsh/AP)


Here in Korea, I want to speak directly to the leaders in Pyongyang. The United States has no hostile intent toward your country. We are committed to peace. And we are prepared to take steps to improve relations, which is why we have offered nutritional aid to North Korean mothers and children.

But by now it should be clear, your provocations and pursuit of nuclear weapons have not achieved the security you seek; they have undermined it. Instead of the dignity you desire, you’re more isolated. Instead of earning the respect of the world, you’ve been met with strong sanctions and condemnation. You can continue down the road you are on, but we know where that leads. It leads to more of the same — more broken dreams, more isolation, ever more distance between the people of North Korea and the dignity and the opportunity that they deserve.

And know this: There will be no rewards for provocations. Those days are over. To the leaders of Pyongyang I say, this is the choice before you. This is the decision that you must make. Today we say, Pyongyang, have the courage to pursue peace and give a better life to the people of North Korea. (Applause.)


I know that there are those who deride our vision. There are those who say ours is an impossible goal that will be forever out of reach. But to anyone who doubts the great progress that is possible, I tell them, come to Korea. Come to this country, which rose from the ashes of war — (applause) — a country that rose from the ashes of war, turning rubble into gleaming cities. Stand where I stood yesterday, along a border that is the world’s clearest contrast between a country committed to progress, a country committed to its people, and a country that leaves its own citizens to starve.

Come to this great university, where a new generation is taking its place in the world — (applause) — helping to create opportunities that your parents and grandparents could only imagine. Come and see some of the courageous individuals who join us today — men and women, young and old, born in the North, but who left all they knew behind and risked their lives to find freedom and opportunity here in the South. In your life stories we see the truth — Koreans are one people. And if just given the chance, if given their freedom, Koreans in the North are capable of great progress as well. (Applause.) Looking out across the DMZ yesterday, but also looking into your eyes today, I’m reminded of another country’s experience that speaks to the change that is possible in our world. After a terrible war, a proud people was divided. Across a fortified border, armies massed, ready for war. For decades, it was hard to imagine a different future. But the forces of history and hopes of man could not be denied. And today, the people of Germany are whole again — united and free.

No two places follow the same path, but this much is true: The currents of history cannot be held back forever. The deep longing for freedom and dignity will not go away. (Applause.) So, too, on this divided peninsula. The day all Koreans yearn for will not come easily or without great sacrifice. But make no mistake, it will come. (Applause.) And when it does, change will unfold that once seemed impossible. And checkpoints will open and watchtowers will stand empty, and families long separated will finally be reunited. And the Korean people, at long last, will be whole and free.

Like our vision of a world without nuclear weapons, our vision of a Korea that stands as one may not be reached quickly. But from this day until then, and all the days that follow, we take comfort in knowing that the security we seek, the peace we want, is closer at hand because of the great alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea — (applause) — and because we stand for the dignity and freedom of all Koreans. (Applause.) And no matter the test, no matter the trial, we stand together. We work together. We go together. (Applause.) Katchi kapshida!

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 11:03 a.m. KST

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