1 of 6 | South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol waves as Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy and Vice President Kamala Harris look on before an address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington Thursday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
April 27 (UPI) -- South President Yoon Suk-yeol thanked a joint session of the U.S. Congress Thursday for defending South Korea and vowed that his nation will stand with the United States in the global defense of freedom and democracy.
"Our alliance is an alliance of universal values," Yoon said. "Freedom, human rights, and democracy are the very foundation of our bonds. Our alliance is for justice. Our alliance is for peace. Our alliance is for prosperity. Together our alliance will continue to move toward the future."
Yoon's remarks came after he and U.S. President Joe Biden announced nuclear-armed submarines will dock in South Korea for the first time in more than 40 years.
The two countries also will set up a nuclear consultative group that will share information on North Korean threats as White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Wednesday that Yoon's visit comes "at a critical moment as North Korea continues to develop its nuclear and missile capabilities."
Yoon on Thursday declared that the U.S.-South Korea alliance must stand united against North Korean threats to freedom and democracy, citing a South Korean report on human rights abuses within North Korea based on the accounts of 500 defectors.
He said the report detailed North Korean abuses including men and women shot and killed for violating anti-COVID-19 measures, people executed for watching South Korean TV shows, and being shot for possessing the Bible and professing the Christian faith.
"We must inform the world of the gravity of North Korea's human rights violations," he said.
Yoon said authoritarian regimes are threatening democracy while using misinformation and propaganda to undermine the peaceful rule of law.
He said the rule of law allows the freedom of all to exist while false propaganda and misinformation corrupt and threaten democracy and the rule of law.
"Such authoritarian sources may conceal and disguise themselves as defenders of democracy or human rights," Yoon said. "But in reality, they deny freedom and democracy. We must not be fooled by such deception and disguises."
Yoon said his nation will stand with world democracies against dictatorships who would destroy democracy and the rule of law, while also condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine as "a violation of international law." That comment drew a standing ovation.
"There is an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo with force. South Korea condemns the unprovoked attack against Ukraine. We will actively work to support the people of Ukraine and assist in the reconstruction," he said.
Yoon thanked the United States for defending South Korea in the 1950s and acknowledged Jane Weber, the granddaughter of American Korean War hero William Weber, who pushed for a Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C.
As he addressed both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, Yoon hailed Congress and the alliance with the United States.
"For 234 years Congress has been the symbol of freedom and democracy. This chamber embodies the spirit of the Constitution," Yoon said. "No matter where you sit, you stand with Korea, he told Congress."
Yoon also hailed economic ties between the two countries, noting that South Korean investment in the United States has tripled over the years.
"In Austin, Texas, the Samsung semiconductor plant has created nearly 20,000 jobs since 2020," he said.
In Georgia, he said, Hyundai's EV battery plant is expected to be operational by late 2024. It will employ thousands of Americans.