South Korean Ambassador Y.J. Choi visited Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday to commemorate the 60-year alliance between the Republic of South Korea and the United States.
Along with Choi, CSUF President Mildred García, U.S Representative Ed Royce and Fullerton Mayor Bruce Whitaker were in attendance as guest speakers.
According to President García, Orange County houses the second largest Korean population of any county in the U.S.
She added that there are more than 200 international Korean students studying at CSUF and since 2008, 50 students have studied abroad in South Korea.
Nearly 100 people attended the commemoration at Steven G. Mihaylo Hall.
While the audience included foreign exchange students from South Korea, many people were there to see the ambassador and learn more about the U.S-South Korean relationship.
Whitaker began the celebration by presenting a framed resolution to Ambassador Choi, commemorating six decades of cooperation and friendship.
“It’s a friendship that was created on the battlefield,” said Choi.
The U.S. and South Korea formed an alliance in 1953 after an armistice agreement was established and a cease fire was implemented in South Korea during the war.
Royce said he believes the alliance between the U.S. and South Korea is an example of how two countries can benefit off one another.
The congressman also voiced his concerns over North Korea and discussed his visit to the country.
His plan to stop North Korea’s ambitions to create nuclear facilities includes placing harsh sanctions on them when they are not using their foreign aid to help the country.
“To freeze (North Korea’s bank) accounts would make it much more difficult for North Korea to have the hard currency necessary in order to expand, further expand, its nuclear program,” said Royce.
Royce said North Korea’s future is unpredictable but positive changes are beginning to happen. He said that some North Korean citizens have access to technology, allowing them to receive news from outside their country for the first time.
Choi said North Korea’s ambitions to create a nuclear arsenal would not bring salvation to poor living conditions in the country. He said North Korea takes the funds it receives in foreign aid and spends it towards its nuclear research rather than improving the poor living conditions its citizens suffer from daily.
Choi also spoke about how free trade was instrumental in the success of South Korea over the last six decades. He said that engaging in free trade with other countries is essential to a countries economic success, as it has been a strategy South Korea has used for decades. By depending on other countries for trading imports and exports, South Korea has become the seventh largest exporter and tenth largest importer in the world.
The ambassador said countries that choose to be independent from free trade struggle to last, compared to countries who are dependent with one another. He added that North Korea and the Soviet Union are examples of how the independent route does not work to build a country’s economy.
Choi also said the United States’ relationship with China can be strengthened by the countries engaging in free trade with each other.