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Obama to North Korea: We Will ‘Defend Our Way of Life and Our Allies’

The visit marks Obama’s fourth time in South Korea. The trip comes as North Korea is reportedly planning a nuclear weapons test.

by Leezel Tanglao
Apr 26 2014, 9:35pm

Photo via Getty

While visiting South Korea, Obama warned North Korea that America is not afraid to use its “military might” to defend its allies.

“Real strength is allowing free and open markets that have built growing, thriving middle classes and lifted millions of people out of poverty,” Obama said Saturday during a speech at Yongsan Garrison, the home of the US military in Seoul. “We don't use our military might to impose these things on others, but we will not hesitate to use our military might to defend our allies and our way of life."

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This is Obama’s fourth visit to South Korea. The trip comes as reports are emerging that North Korea is planning a nuclear weapons test.

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“North Korea’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons is a path that leads only to more isolation,” Obama said. “It’s not a sign of strength. Anybody can make threats. Anyone can move an army. Anyone can show off a missile. That doesn’t make you strong. It does not lead to security, or opportunity, or respect. Those things don't come through force. They have to be earned.”

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In the meantime, North Korean state media is reporting that officials have detained an American. On April 10, Miller Matthew Todd was taken into custody, according to KCNA, the country's official news agency said. Todd had reportedly torn up his visa when demanding asylum.

"A relevant organ of the DPRK put in custody American Miller Matthew Todd, 24, on April 10 for his rash behavior in the course of going through formalities for entry into the DPRK to tour it," KCNA said.

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State Department Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday that the US is aware of the report, and American officials are in touch with Swedish diplomats. Sweden represents US interests in North Korea, since the two countries have no direct diplomatic relations.