Washington, D.C. – Tonight, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) will join His Excellency Ahn Ho-young, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the United States, at an event commemorating Korea National Foundation Day.

Below are Chairman Royce’s remarks (as prepared for delivery):

“Good evening, it is a true pleasure to join Ambassador Ahn and his wife tonight to celebrate National Foundation Day and Armed Forces Day. 

Ambassador Ahn, as you complete your tour in Washington, I would just like to say what a true honor and privilege it has been to work with you over these last few years.  No one has done more to strengthen our partnership, and it has thrived under your leadership.  I deeply appreciate the friendship you have offered, visiting my district and meeting many of my constituents.  You are a credit to the Korean-American alliance, one that knows no rival in Asia.

On occasions such as these, we naturally remember the events of the past.  This is a time to reflect on the bonds that forged our relationship 65 years ago.  The shared values that brought – and keep – us together. And in the face of the growing threat from North Korea, it has never been more important for the U.S. and South Korea to stand together.

Tonight we also remember the injustices of the past.  We hope that doing so will help prevent similar acts from happening in the future.  That is why I have long worked alongside many of you to right an egregious historic wrong made against women who are euphemistically called the ‘Comfort Women.’

I’ll never forget a very personal visit I made years ago to the Glendale Peace Memorial in order to say goodbye to a grandmother who passed away.  I made this visit on the same day that House Resolution 121 – which I am proud to have co-authored – was introduced in the House of Representatives.  After my visit to the Peace Memorial, I carried the unified message of all Korean Americans to Tokyo and demanded that the Government of Japan disavow the hurtful statements made about comfort women and World War II.

This important mission continues still today.  In August, as many of you know, I led a bipartisan delegation to Seoul.  One of our first stops was at a Comfort Women memorial where we laid a wreath.  And I will continue to speak out against these injustices to make sure the horror these women went through is never forgotten.

As we look to the future, I am very optimistic about the U.S.-South Korea relationship.  Today, the United States has no better partner and friend in the Asia Pacific than the Republic of Korea.  And during these difficult times, we have no choice but to further strengthen our relationship.

That’s why, during that same delegation I led to Seoul last month, I met with several government officials and business leaders to talk about growing our economic ties through the U.S. – Korea Free Trade Agreement.

KORUS has already proven a success, and the district I represent is directly benefiting from this agreement.  For example, CJ Foods, a subsidiary of Korea’s CJ Group, has created hundreds of American jobs since they began their operations after the implementation of KORUS.  And during my visit, they announced they will invest approximately $5 million next year – expanding their food manufacturing operations in Fullerton, California – leading to an estimated 30 new American jobs.  Within two years, their investment of approximately $90 million to construct a ready-meal manufacturing plant in Southern California will lead to an estimated 200 new jobs.

The success story of CJ Foods is the story of KORUS.  But there is more that can be done to reduce trade barriers, increase investment, and strengthen this agreement.  Working together, I know we can help create more jobs and opportunities for Americans and Koreans.

So let me just say thank you to Ambassador Ahn for inviting me here this evening.  And thank you, to each of you, for all that you’re doing to help strengthen the ties between our two great nations.

Being from Southern California, every day I see how Korean Americans serve as important pillars of strength that support the friendship between the U.S. and South Korea.  The love and respect that Korean Americans have for their heritage and for their adopted homeland, the United States, is incredible.

I’m proud to be playing a small part in bolstering this relationship – the most important in Asia.  Standing together, united, there’s nothing we can’t overcome.”