This is my first visit to the DMZ, to Freedom House, to the UN Armistice Headquarters.
And as we were at the Observation Post looking out at what is a thin, 3-mile separation between the North and the South, it struck me that although it may be a thin line, these two places are worlds apart.
The Republic of Korea has made extraordinary progress. It has leaders who care about the well-being of the people. It has an economy that is growing and creating jobs and opportunities. It has a commitment to common values of democracy and freedom.
By contrast, the North has not only stagnated in isolation, but the people of the North have suffered for so many years.
I am grateful to the men and women from the Republic of Korea, the United States of America and the multinational force, who today are standing watch for freedom and who are in a long line of those who came before over the last 6 decades, who have helped to protect South Korea.
At the same time we continue to send a message to the North. There is another way. There is a way that can benefit the people of the North.
But until they change direction, the United States stands firmly on behalf of the people and government of the Republic of Korea, where we provide a stalwart defense along with our allies and partners.