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KAFS marks anniversary, thanks U.S. service members

Korea America Friendship Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the Korea-U.S. relationship, held its annual dinner party in Seoul on Thursday to celebrate its 20th anniversary and appreciate the service of U.S. troops here.

The Korea America Friendship Night was attended by some 800 people including U.S. Ambassador Kathleen Stephens, 8th U.S. Army Commander Lieut. Gen. John D. Johnson and Vice Foreign Minister Min Dong-seok.

The KAFS presented its annual awards to five U.S. military personnel for their contributions to enhancing the six-decade-long alliance between the two countries. 
Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik (fifth from left), U.S. Ambassador Kathleen Stephens (second from right), 8th .S. Army Commander Lieut. Gen. John D. Johnson (fourth from right) and other participants pose before the Korea America Friendship Night party at a hotel in Seoul on Thursday. (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)
Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik (fifth from left), U.S. Ambassador Kathleen Stephens (second from right), 8th .S. Army Commander Lieut. Gen. John D. Johnson (fourth from right) and other participants pose before the Korea America Friendship Night party at a hotel in Seoul on Thursday. (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)

The award winners included Army First Sergeant Aaron V. Moore who participated in multiple orphanage events here and Air Force Captain David Schindler who also worked hard to strengthen the ties with local people by teaching them English.

In his opening remarks, KAFS President Han Chul-soo thanked the U.S. forces in Korea for their endeavors for security and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.

“Such a remarkable development can be attributed to 60 years of the strong Republic of Korea-U.S. alliance, which created an environment for free democracy and economic development,” he said.

In her congratulatory speech, the U.S. ambassador stressed that the two countries should continue to stand together to ensure security and deter North Korean provocations, and that the bilateral free trade agreement should be approved by both parliaments.

“This relationship we have built over the last 60 years springs from that fundamental bond when Koreans and Americans together fought side by side to ensure the survival of the Republic of Korea,” she said.

“I must say we must ratify the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement. This is clearly a win-win agreement that will take this great relationship to the next level.”

Calling the preservation of peace here a “solemn and heavy responsibility,” the EUSA commander reiterated the U.S. security commitment to its Asian ally.

“Our service members here today are the current custodians of this enduring alliance forged on the field of battle 60 years ago and maintained by generations of warriors since then,” he said.

“I promise you that we will stay ready to stand side by side and protect the peace. History has repeatedly proven that lasting peace only comes to those who are ready to defend it.”

The vice foreign minister attributed Korea’s economic achievement to the strong combined military preparedness.

“Thanks to the strong alliance and our robust combined defense posture, Korea has emerged from the ashes of the Korean War and developed into a full-fledged democracy and thriving economy,” he said.

KAFS, a nongovernmental organization, was established in June, 1991. It has since led a variety of studies on the bilateral relationship and activities aimed at enhancing cultural and social exchanges between the two countries.

The U.S. maintains some 28,500 troops here, mainly for war deterrent purposes against the North.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)
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