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Address by Suh Wook, 47th Minister of National Defense’s Inauguration [full text]

Address by Suh Wook, 47th Minister of National Def

Fellow members of the military and their families!

First, I would like to send a word of encouragement to all the Republic of Korea (ROK) soldiers who continue to perform their national defense mission on land, at sea, in the air and all across the country at this moment, as well as the armed forces deployed overseas who are contributing to world peace. And I also would like to express my gratitude for the hard work of Commander Robert Abrams and soldiers of the United States Forces Korea (USFK).

Today, I undertake a great task as the 47th minister of national defense. I vow to devote myself to fulfilling the mission that has been assigned to me, which is to defend this country.

I'd like to express my respect to former minister Jeong Kyeong-doo for his devotion to the ROK’s security, and I am convinced that Minister Jeong’s achievements will go down in the history of our military and will live on in future generations. I ask you to join with me in giving a big hand to Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo to thank him for his hard work.

Our security situation is very complex and grave, both internally and externally. There is a growing uncertainty regarding the security situation in the international community, and neighboring countries’ pursuit of their own benefits has been raising regional tensions. North Korea is not ready to step forward with the enhancement of the security environment on the Korean Peninsula despite our government’s and the international community’s efforts to establish peace. As well, supranational and non-military threats, such as COVID-19, natural disasters, and terrorism, have recently become a main cause of national security challenges. Under such conditions, the people are asking for the military’s role and capabilities to respond to omnidirectional security threats.

Reflecting this, I will devote all of my capabilities to building “strong security, proud military, and interactive defense” while keeping the people’s needs and the President’s principles in commanding the military in mind.

In our national defense, I will be focusing on the following five matters:

First, the military will ‘support the complete denuclearization of and the establishment of a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula through an unwavering defense posture.’

The establishment of an unwavering defense posture can be achieved through efficient weapons and operational systems, a firm willingness to accomplish missions, and continuous training. Specifically, to establish this firm defense posture we need to overcome difficult conditions, including COVID-19, and should strengthen actual combat training. Based on a firm defense posture, our military will also back up the promotion of the peace process on the Korean Peninsula by faithfully implementing the historical September 19 inter-Korean military agreement.

Second, the military will ‘develop the ROK-US alliance and strengthen defense cooperation in the international community.’

The ‘ROK-US alliance’ acts as a pivot of the security of the ROK. The partnership between the two countries is a blood alliance from the Korean War that has developed into a comprehensive strategic alliance with a value-sharing partnership. Based on the firm ROK-US alliance, we should strive to accelerate the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) to respond to the needs of the times. To achieve responsible national defense, we will work to meet the conditions required for the transfer early by precisely evaluating our military’s capabilities, including the ROK forces’ core military capabilities. As well, let’s work to expand the horizons of national defense cooperation with the international community, in order to prepare against supranational threats and to contribute to world peace.

Third, the military will ‘build the defense capability needed to lead the future.’

We need to steadily push forward with the Defense Reform 2.0 initiative in order to prepare for the future battlefield environment and to achieve advanced national defense. We should consolidate the structure and foundation for the expansion of our capabilities to lead defense, and should make active use of scientific technologies in the era of the 4th industrial revolution. Specifically, we will clearly predict the future battlefield environment based on the development of technologies, including artificial intelligence, robot, bio and space area, and will actively respond to it.

Fourth, the military will ‘create a happy defense environment.’

We should share the original objectives and values of national defense, and create a culture where soldiers can feel pride as a community. I will continue to develop a military in which soldiers can feel pride by boosting morale, including transparent and efficient operation of national defense, the improvement of military officials’ lodging facilities, and the guarantee of the junior officials’ commanding right.

Lastly, the military should always be ‘trusted, supported by the people.’

We should ensure the human rights of soldiers at the people’s level, and should embody an advanced national defense through an ability-centered work culture. We also need to become the ROK armed forces that can accompany the people whenever they need us by having the ability to and being fully prepared to respond to non-military threats, such as COVID-19 prevention and typhoon damage restoration.

My fellow military personnel and families!

To do something great, all the people, internally and externally, should cooperate in harmony. I have no doubt that we can overcome difficulties and accomplish great things if we have a sense of willingness and cooperate each other.

I would like to wrap up my speech by wishing for a blessing for Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and his family, and appreciate all of you who came and participated in the event.

I wish all of you good health. Thank you.


  • (Presentation and Follow-on discussion)