Speech by the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at a commemoration ceremony at the Dutch War Monument in Hoengsong
Your Excellency Pi Woo-jin,
Ladies and gentlemen,
And above all: veterans of the Korean War and the battle of Hoengsong,
They say the past is a foreign country.
But here, at this monument, it is close to home.
Here, history is very much alive.
Because here there is that tangible sense that freedom, democracy and the rule of law are hard-fought values.
Values that are in constant need of defending.
Minister Pi, we are truly grateful that the government and people of Korea honour and cherish the memory of Dutch Lieutenant-Colonel Marinus den Ouden, who led his men from the front in the battle of Hoengsong.
He was one of 123 Dutch soldiers who paid the highest price, fighting for freedom in Korea.
Today we pay our respects to those fallen Dutch soldiers and to their Korean comrades, with whom they fought shoulder to shoulder.
Their courage, their determination and their sacrifice must never be forgotten.
This monument, De Molen, is here to keep their memory alive.
And that is our duty, our obligation and our promise to all those who never made it home.
With that in mind, it is my pleasure today to present you with a book in the Korean language that describes the experience of the Dutch soldiers in Korea.
Now, for the first time, their stories of courage, fear and sacrifice can be read by all Koreans.
I hope this will help raise more awareness of the Netherlands' involvement in the Korean War.
And now, as a token of our gratitude for your continuous support for our veterans, and for providing us with this peaceful place to remember the Dutch soldiers, I would like to present this book to you, Minister Pi.
Thank you, Minister.
Thank you, people of Korea.
And thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for being here today.