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South Korean President: World Democratic Ideals 'At Risk'


South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol addresses a joint meeting of Congress in Washington, April 27, 2023.
South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol addresses a joint meeting of Congress in Washington, April 27, 2023.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Thursday hailed 70 years of friendship and cooperation with the United States but warned that the democratic ideals of the two countries are "at risk" throughout the world because "false propaganda and disinformation are distorting the truth and public opinion."

At a joint meeting of Congress, Yoon told U.S. lawmakers, "False propaganda and disinformation corrupt intellectualism. They threaten democracy and the rule of law."

"Such totalitarian forces may conceal and disguise themselves as defenders of democracy or human rights," he said. "But in reality, they deny freedom and democracy."

Watch related video by Katherine Gypson:

Yoon to Congress: South Korea Will Stand With US to Support Freedom
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Yoon, the seventh South Korean president to address Congress, said his country's alliance with the U.S. was forged seven decades ago in the Korean War, fighting that cost the lives of nearly 37,000 American soldiers and eventually led to the armistice dividing the Korean Peninsula between free South Korea and communist North Korea.

But he lauded the subsequent decades of cultural exchanges and business advances between the U.S. and South Korea since then.

Yoon also said that South Korea, with the U.S. "will play the role as 'compass for freedom'" throughout the world and stand as a bulwark against North Korean aggression.

"North Korea's obsession with nuclear weapons and missiles is throwing its population into a severe economic crisis and human rights abuses," he said. "We must raise global awareness of the dire human rights situation in North Korea. We must not shy away from our duty to promote freedom for North Koreans."

He called South Korea's bond with the U.S. "an alliance of universal values. Freedom, human rights and democracy are the very foundations of our bonds."

Yoon met Wednesday with President Joe Biden to discuss the threats posed by an increasingly bold North Korea, how South Korea and the U.S. can cooperate economically, and ways to counter an increasingly powerful China, among other issues.

Watch Yoon's address:

Ahead of those talks, the two sides released the Washington Declaration, in which South Korea agreed not to pursue its own nuclear weapons program in return for a greater decision-making role in U.S. contingency planning in the event of a North Korean nuclear attack. The United States pledged a more muscular U.S. presence in the region.

A pomp-filled state dinner at the White House Wednesday evening brought Hollywood celebrities, businesspeople and politicians to Washington to celebrate.

The occasion was only the second state dinner during the Biden administration, with the first for French President Emmanuel Macron.

On Tuesday, Biden, Yoon and their wives paid a solemn visit to the Korean War Memorial on the National Mall in Washington.

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