South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday said former US President George W. Bush’s attendance at a memorial service to commemorate the late South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun reflects strong alliance between the two countries.
“Thank you for attending the official ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of former President Roh. I believe (former) President Bush’s attendance to commemorate Roh, who was a partner in the Korea-US alliance, is symbolic of the strong alliance,” he said.
Moon’s remarks were made during a meeting at Cheong Wa Dae, before Bush headed to a ceremony in remembrance of late Roh.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (left) and former US President George W. Bush at Cheong Wa Dae on Thursday morning. (Yonhap)
Asking for Bush’s support for improved Korea-US relations, Moon noted the bilateral free trade agreement ratified under the Roh and Bush administrations along with six-party talks that contributed to strengthened ties.
Roh and Bush were counterparts from 2003-2008.
Bush, who has begun a new life as a painter after retirement, brought a portrait of late Roh as a gift for Roh’s family, saying he painted a man who sacrificed for human rights and was not afraid of voicing his opinions.
He added his father and late President George H. W. Bush “loved South Korea” as he does.
He attended a ceremony in Bongha Village, South Gyeongsang Province, with former first lady Kwon Yang-sook and current first lady Kim Jung-sook. Moon did not attend the event.
The service was also attended by top government officials including Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang and leaders of Korea’s four political parties -- ruling Democratic Party, minor opposition Bareunmirae Party, Party for Democracy and Peace and Liberal Justice Party -- among others.
Main opposition Liberty Korea Party Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn and floor leader Na Kyung-won were not present, but a delegation led by Rep. Cho Kyung-tae paid their respects.
The liberal ex-president -- 16th Korean president from 2003-2008 who remains a liberal icon -- took his life in 2009.
By Kim Bo-gyung (email@example.com