General Meeting of the Seoul City Veterans Association
Date: February 27, 2013
Venue: National Defense Hall
The uniforms that Chairman Shin Sangtae and the distinguished guests are wearing now look really nice. The navy blue matches perfectly with the grey. I am quite envious, so much so that I feel like wearing that uniform when I come here next time.
Marking the 54th General Meeting of the Seoul City Veterans Association, I am very pleased to meet Shin Sangtae, chairman of the Seoul Veterans Association, as well as association members and guests. Especially, we are joined by Park Saehan, chairman of the Korea Veterans Association; Choi Wanguen, vice minister of the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs; and Seoul City councilors. Please give them all a warm round of applause.
In order to carry out any work for the Veterans Association, I first need the approval of the city council. With your approval, I can make things happen. In this regard, I would like to express my sincere gratitude. Also, I would like to congratulate those who received national merit commendations.
These days, more than any other time in the past, security is becoming more and more important. In particular, North Korea conducted its third nuclear test a few weeks ago. Although the world opposes it, the North is planning to execute another series of nuclear tests. I urge North Korea to cease such provocations immediately. I strongly believe that, no matter the circumstances, there should be no nuclear weapons or nuclear power on the Korean Peninsula at all.
Security is necessary in order to stabilize the livelihoods of the public and reinvigorate the economy. And as the North is a mere 40 kilometers from Seoul, and in order to prevent provocations by North Korea against Seoul, which is home to 10 million people, we should be fully prepared to respond promptly to any threat.
Since the recent nuclear testing, and in preparation for any North Korean provocations, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has been operating a 24-hour crisis management team. The Seoul Metropolitan Government is also paying keen attention to the security of Seoul citizens by reinforcing the security of key national facilities, strengthening the civil defense system, and maintaining close communication with the authorities concerned.
On National Memorial Day, I visited the homes of Korean and Vietnam War veterans, including victims of toxic defoliant, and I could not help but feel deeply sorry.
In particular, when I met Kang Mungu, a Vietnam War veteran, I noticed that his living conditions were quite poor. He is living in a small house in a shantytown and is forced to worry about his livelihood as he has no family. As a citizen of Seoul and a Korean, I was deeply heartbroken.
When I was studying in the U.K., I saw veterans’ clubs in every town and region, where local residents expressed their gratitude for the veterans’ sacrifice. Also, the U.S. has its Veterans Day, when the whole nation expresses its gratitude for their sacrifice and veterans are treated with special care.
Although Korea went through the Korean War and is technically still at war with North Korea, your sacrifice is not as well recognized and respected as that of the veterans in the U.S. or the U.K., which disappoints me deeply.
Since my time in the U.K., I have visited many veterans clubs and, now that we are nearing Liberation Day in August, I have announced the “Seoul City Veterans Policy”. This is a comprehensive program that provides support for veterans’ families, such as financial assistance, rental housing, and cultural activities. Above all, I have put emphasis on increasing the pride of veterans’ families in our society by offering them better treatment.
It is true that veterans’ policies were overseen by the central government, and the Seoul Metropolitan Government played mainly an auxiliary role. However, we have come to believe that our veterans, who dedicated their youth to protecting our country with all their hearts, should be treated well by the Seoul Metropolitan Government as well.
You are the Republic of Korea. Without your sacrifice and commitment, the peace and prosperity we enjoy today would not exist. Therefore, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will not forget your dedication and will play a leading role in protecting your honor.
The Seoul City Veterans Association has endeavored to raise Seoul citizens’ awareness of national security. As Chairman Shin has just said, I think it is important for youth to visit the security center so that they do not to forget Korea’s painful history.
For the implementation of the Seoul City Veterans Program, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will provide KRW 220 million for this year’s operating costs, which is KRW 70 million more than last year. Further funding will be allocated for the repair and renovation of the dilapidated Veteran’s Hall building. In fact, the Seoul Metropolitan Council helped us greatly, and Chairman Shin made the proposal. So, please give Chairman Shin a round of applause.
We will cooperate with veterans for the future security and peace of Seoul.
Please stay healthy and thank you.