A picture of Representative Eni F. H. Faleomavaega
Eni F.
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    Congratulating President-Elect Park Geun-Hye on Her Inauguration as the First Woman President of the Republic of Korea

    by Former Representative Eni F. H. Faleomavaega

    Posted on 2013-02-14

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    FALEOMAVAEGA of american samoa in the house of representatives Thursday, February 14, 2013 Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Speaker, President-elect Park Geun-hye will be inaugurated as the eleventh President of the Republic of Korea on Monday, February 25, 2013. Madam Park will then become the first freely elected woman leader among the nations of Northeast Asia and the first woman President of the Republic of Korea Madam Park has shattered the glass ceiling for Korean women by attaining the highest elected office in the land, achieving this remarkable feat before the United States has elected a woman to lead our Nation.

    In the traditional Land of the Morning Calm where the slogan ``men first, women behind'' was the watchword only a generation ago, Park Geun-hye's election is historic. President-elect Park will serve as a role model for women--young and old--not only in Asia but around the world as they seek to achieve their full potential unfettered by the gender limitations of the past.

    Madam Park also raises the possibility of a new beginning in the complex and often hostile relationship that has evolved between the two Koreas since the tragic division of the Korean peninsula at the end of the Second World War. A daughter of a mother slain by a North Korean agent in 1974, Madam Park chose to put this painful family tragedy aside and travel to North Korea in 2002 and meet the very man, Kim Jong-il, who was likely responsible for the murder of her mother. She did this for the good of her country, for those numerous divided Korean families who have not seen nor heard from their loved ones in sixty years, and for a people with a common culture and heritage suddenly torn asunder by Cold War politics.

    The Korean people have an old saying that ``when whales fight, shrimp get broken'' recognizing the victimization of a small but proud nation surrounded by colossal and often hostile neighbors. The healing process after sixty years of this externally imposed division symbolized by the stark frontier of the DMZ will not be easy. But, as was once said in reference to the unfreezing of Sino-American relations, that ``only Nixon could go to China,'' so it may one day be said that ``only Park Geun-hye, the daughter of an anti-communist general and a martyred mother, could reconcile the two Koreas.'' This coming summer, on July 27th, we will commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the signing of an Armistice which silenced the guns but brought no permanent peace on the Korean peninsula. Our aging Korean War era veterans, who include four Members of the U.S. House of Representatives including the Honorable Charles Rangel, the Honorable John Conyers Jr., the Honorable Howard Coble, and the Honorable Sam Johnson, often speak of our steadfast friendship with the people of South Korea as being one which was forged in the crucible of war.

    The Korean War Memorial, located not far from this House, serves to remind us all of the brave men and women of our country ``who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.'' The election of Park Geun-hye symbolizes the achievement of those democratic values for which these veterans fought and died.

    I am also certain that America's almost two million strong Korean- American community who have contributed so much to their adopted country are justifiably proud of the democratic and economic miracle of their ancestral homeland. The alliance between their old and new countries, strengthened by the recent adoption of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, will only be further invigorated under Madam Park's presidency.

    For historical purposes, I submit this statement to be made part of the Congressional Record in tribute to the service, often at great personal sacrifice, that President-elect Park Geun-hye has rendered for and on behalf of the people of the Republic of Korea. I join my colleagues in looking forward to welcoming Madam Park when she makes her first official visit to Washington, DC later this year.


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