Biden Welcomes South Korean President Yoon to White House

April 26, 2023

On Wednesday, President Biden welcomed South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to the White House with a formal arrival ceremony on the South Lawn.

It was Yoon’s second state visit to the U.S.

“What a beautiful day to invite a great friend back to the White House,” Biden said. “Today we celebrate the ironclad alliance, the shared vision of our future, and the deep friendship that unites the Republic of Korea and the United States.” 

The focus of the two Presidents’ meeting is nuclear deterrence. Yoon is expected to reaffirm his country’s commitment to not develop nuclear weapons in exchange for expanding military collaboration with the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific, where both North Korea and China have been raising military tensions in recent months. 

Yoon’s visit also marks the 70th anniversary of the U.S.-South Korean alliance.

“Over the past seven decades our alliance has grown stronger and more capable,” said Biden. “The cooperation between our people, our commitment to one another has grown deeper across every aspect of our partnership.”

Yoon thanked Biden and First Lady Jill Biden for their hospitality toward him and South Korean First Lady Kim Keon Hee. Quoting the inscription on the Korean War memorial, he also thanked the U.S. military for “answering the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.”

Yoon said American service members had sacrificed their lives on the Korean peninsula “for one noble cause: to defend freedom.”

South Korea currently benefits from the protection of the U.S. “nuclear umbrella”—its main deterrent against attacks from North Korea, which has maintained aggressive missile testing while showing little interest in denuclearization talks. 

In December the Pentagon formally launched a space force unit at Osan Air Base near Seoul that’s expected to allow the U.S. military to better monitor rival North Korea and China as well as Russia.

“Our people, united still by our democratic values, are taking on the challenges of the world, and we’re taking them on together,” Biden said Wednesday on the South Lawn.

Biden further noted that Yoon had been “kind enough” to host Biden in his country just ten days after his inauguration last year.  Yoon took office after a closely contested election, during which he vowed to beef up South Korea’s defenses against North Korea.

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