This is an unofficial translation of President Moon Jae-in’s memorial address delivered on Tuesday at the eighth anniversary of the late President Roh Moo-hyun's death. -- Ed.
President Moon Jae-in speaks at a memorial service for late former President Roh Moo-hyun in Bongha, Roh`s hometown, located 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul in South Gyeongsang Province, on May 23, 2017. (Yonhap)
Eight years have passed, yet all of you here have ever stayed by President Roh Moo-hyun's side, and for this I don’t quite know how to express my gratitude.
I am also deeply thankful that I was able to keep my promise I made during the election season that I shall attend today‘s memorial ceremony as president.
It seems to me that on this day, even President Roh may be standing somewhere among us in the crowd, thanking everybody and saying “Ah, it feels good!”
Years have passed, perhaps enough to fade the commemorative memory, yet still more people are calling out Roh Moo-hyun’s name.
The name Roh Moo-hyun has become a symbol of a world without foul play or privilege, a world where common sense and principles are valid.
Roh's death, over which we have all suffered so, led to the awakening of citizens and eventually became a power to change the world.
These days, I am receiving praise and love which I do not deserve.
It is not that I have done anything special, except making efforts to make a normal country and to become a normal president.
The fact that such normal efforts have come to be taken as something special indicates how our society has been seriously abnormal for a long time.
President Roh Moo-hyun’s dreams were not so different.
His dream was to build a country in which democracy, human rights and welfare function properly, a nation without regionalism, ideology conflicts and discrimination.
With such a goal, he struggled to renounce his presidential authority and to communicate with the people in their language.
His lofty ideals, however, lacked power.
He failed to overpass the wall of reality.
Since Roh's discouragement, our society and politics have retrogressed into the abnormal, growing further away from the people’s hope.
But that dream of his hereby takes another leap.
Roh Moo-hyun's dream has been revived by the power of the citizens.
The dream which we dreamt together led us here today.
From now on, we shall never fail again.
We will reflect on the past 20 years, not only on the Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye administrations, but also on the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun governments, to step ahead into the road of success.
We have to expand our dream beyond the Participatory Government to a whole new Republic of Korea, a decent country.
We have to put down the guilt of failing to protect President Roh and move on to building such a country together.
Let us show once again that we are much more competent in national security, economy, and in state affairs in general.
My dream is to build a government for all, to become a president for all.
The most important thing is to keep hold of the people’s hands and to walk with them all the way.
I shall walk ahead, keeping in mind that even the reason I carry out reform is to benefit the people and fulfill their wishes, not because it is my personal belief, not because it is the right thing to do.
Should the people pace ahead, I will speed up. If they slow down, I will communicate and persuade them.
I will achieve a tangible reform so that the next democratic government may carry on the task, if the Moon Jae-in government fails to carry through within its term.
President Roh Moo-hyun, I miss you, I miss you ever so dearly.
But during the rest of my term, I shall keep you in my heart only.
This is to be the last time that I attend this memorial ceremony as standing president.
I hereby return you to the people.
I promise you that I will come to see you, after completing my mission as a successful president.
I hope you will then greet me with a bright smile, saying “Ah, it feels good!” just the way you used to say it.
I once again thank all those who have attended the event, and offer my condolence to Lady Kwon Yang-sook and the bereaved family members who have endured with courage.
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