The Korea Society Annual Dinner

Remarks As Delivered by
Chairman, President and CEO
Marillyn A. Hewson

The Korea Society Annual Dinner
New York, NY
May 6, 2014

Ambassador Hubbard, Ambassador Minton, Ambassador Oh, Ambassador Son, Mr. Park, distinguished guests and friends – on behalf of the 113,000 men and women of Lockheed Martin, I am honored to join you here tonight for this important celebration.

For nearly sixty years, the Korea Society and its heritage organizations have served an important mission: To promote greater awareness, understanding and cooperation between the people of the United States and Korea. We are proud to be associated with the Korea Society, and we’re honored to be here tonight to receive the coveted Van Fleet award.

While this is an evening of celebration, it comes at a time when Koreans, Americans and members of the global community are in mourning. We are all deeply saddened by the tragic Sewol ferry accident off the coast of Korea. It is especially painful that so many of the lives lost were students who had a lifetime of potential that will never be realized. The loss of so many bright young kids is simply unimaginable and absolutely heartbreaking. I’m proud to wear my yellow ribbon along with my Lockheed Martin colleagues. Tonight, we stand solemnly with our friends and in deepest sympathy to the families of those who were lost.

Tragedies like this shine a light on friendships that endure through difficult times. The bond between the United States and Korea is stronger than ever, and that is what the Korea Society represents. Each year, this gathering celebrates the partnership between our countries – a partnership based on common interests, a common history and common values.

As all of you know, that partnership was born of necessity and forged through sacrifice. In the early 1950s, as the Cold War turned hot, the U.S. and the Republic of Korea joined together to keep liberty alive. General James Van Fleet was a key part of that effort, leading American soldiers who, and as is inscribed at the Korean War Memorial, fought for “a country they never knew and a people they never met.” And after the smoke had settled and the work of re-building a nation had begun, General Van Fleet founded this Society so that Americans could come to know Korea and its people. 

For Lockheed Martin, those memories are part of our history, too. In the first months of the war, air attacks by Lockheed F-80 Shooting Stars accounted for roughly 75 percent of enemy losses. In November 1950, Lt. Russell Brown of the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing was piloting a Shooting Star when he shot down a Chinese MiG-15 in the very first jet versus jet dogfight. Our nation was committed to Korea’s security then, and we remain firmly committed to it now, as new and complex threats challenge stability in the region and beyond. Just last month we held the largest-ever joint air drill to strengthen battle readiness on the peninsula.

We know from our shared experience that freedom is worth defending. Lockheed Martin is proud to be a long-time partner in supporting Korea’s defense with systems and programs from missile defense to fighter jets, and advanced radar to airlift capabilities. Last month, we were honored by Korea’s decision to move forward on the purchase of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. The F-35 is the most technologically sophisticated fighter in history, and we are proud to bring this capability to Korea and continue our partnership in its national defense.

Of course, the close relationship between our countries is much broader than national defense. We are partners in building prosperity, peace and progress around the world. Korea has earned global admiration for its economic and political transformation. Half a century ago, the Republic of Korea was a struggling economy. Today, it is among the wealthiest industrialized nations in the world, a major trading partner of the United States and a strong and vibrant democracy.

Yet, rather than rest on its laurels, Korea has committed to give back by playing a leading, responsible role in the community of nations. Korean troops have served in UN peacekeeping missions from East Timor to Lebanon to Haiti. They’ve been part of coalition forces in Iraq and re-construction teams in Afghanistan. Once a country that welcomed assistance from American Peace Corps volunteers, today Korea has its own global service corps and collaborates with the Peace Corps to fight poverty and build friendships around the world.

Americans are proud to call Korea our ally, partner and friend. As we look to the future, we know that we can go farther together than we ever could alone. Our countries see opportunities on the horizon as we strive to seize the benefits of this new age while preparing for its challenges.

We know that innovation is indispensable to growth and to driving the progress, discovery and achievement that lifts a society and improves people’s lives. President Park has championed what she calls a “creative economy” to drive Korea forward. She has said, and I quote, “Today, the brilliant idea, creative thought or new technology of a single individual can help move the world and get nations going.” Likewise, President Obama’s administration is working to unleash innovation as the engine of economic growth at home and competitiveness abroad.

Yet, sparking creativity and driving innovation is easier said than done. Success depends on vision, purpose and dedication, not only from our government leaders, but from business and civil society as well.

So tonight, I’d like to suggest three areas where we should all keep pushing the boundaries, setting bold goals and chasing the horizons of the next great breakthrough. Education, cooperation and investment: three ways that we can accelerate innovation and partner for mutual success.

Let’s start with education.

Education is where the seeds of innovation take root, and this is an area where the Republic of Korea has set an inspiring standard. Korean students are among the top performers in international rankings, supported by a culture that strongly values educational achievement. Both of our countries are focused on making our educational systems even better to help equip rising generations with the skills they need to succeed. The good news is that we have exciting new tools to make the most of global possibilities. 

For example, as global boundaries continue to fall, educational exchange is on the rise. Last year, more than 70,000 South Koreans were studying in the United States and the number of Americans studying in South Korea increased by more than 8 percent.

New technologies have dramatically improved access to education and diversity of perspectives in academia. I recently read about one enterprising young South Korean, Se-won Ahn, who had taken a business class from the University of Maryland, was studying history at a women’s university in Seoul, taking anthropology from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and starting a course in philosophy at MIT. Talk about global learning! That’s the kind of ambitious, creative approach to education we need for the 21st century.

The second way we can accelerate innovation is through international cooperation. 

Oliver Wendell Holmes said that, "Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up." I couldn’t agree more. When we break down barriers and share expertise, resources, technology and discoveries, that’s when innovation thrives. We’ve seen this first-hand. Our international partnerships bring tremendous value to our programs at Lockheed Martin.

In Korea, for example, we partnered with Korea Aerospace Industries to create the T-50 Golden Eagle – the world’s only supersonic trainer and light attack aircraft. The T-50 first took to the skies back in the summer of 2002. Today, Lockheed Martin and KAI are jointly marketing the aircraft to the United States Air Force as the next U.S. trainer, and we’ve successfully exported variants to Iraq, Indonesia and the Philippines.

We are committed to continue helping Korea develop its technological capabilities. For example, we recently reached agreement to upgrade Korea’s air traffic management system. As part of that process, we’ll establish a research and development center to enable technology transfer and in-country software customization.

And we’re especially excited about a new initiative we’ve established called RoKST&R. It isn’t K-Pop or Gangnam Style, but we hope it will go viral and launch its own Korean Wave. RoKST&R stands for the Republic of Korea Science, Technology and Research Program. It’s a fund to promote aerospace R&D in Korean universities, and to nurture the entrepreneurship that will fuel the creative economy. We’re really thrilled about working with Korea’s talented young men and women as they use advanced technology and engineering to tackle our most pressing challenges. 

Building off that example, the last way that I believe we can accelerate innovation is by making the right investments.

The great inventor, Thomas Edison, once said, “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” And we know from experience that innovation depends on a climate of encouragement and support. Smart investments can mean the difference between an idea that changes the world and one that simply withers on the vine.

Earlier this year, we saw an example of smart investment in action in this country as the White House announced the launch of two new Manufacturing Innovation Institutes. One, in Detroit, will focus on manufacturing light-weight and modern metals. The other is a Chicago-based consortium that will concentrate on digital manufacturing and design technologies. Lockheed Martin will be active in both, together, with other leading organizations.

I know that President Park is pursuing similar ideas. By 2015 she’s pledged to establish innovation centers in 17 cities across Korea, combining regional and national government support with private sector ingenuity and know-how. And in the critical area of research and development, where Korea is already a leader, the government has committed to raise R&D spending to 5 percent of GDP.

Korea understands that even in challenging economic times, devoting resources to innovation today can pay far greater dividends tomorrow, strengthening economies, opening up new possibilities and making our world a better place.

So, these are our accelerators: education, cooperation and investment. They drive innovation and will shape a future even prouder than our past. We have decades of partnership to build on and unlimited possibilities in front of us.

And in that spirit, let me end with a story, looking back and looking ahead. Some of you may know that 130 years ago this year, Thomas Edison was hired to bring the first electric lighting plant to Korea. The powerhouse was completed at the king’s palace in Seoul in 1887. At the time, it was the most advanced technology anyone could imagine. People thought of Thomas Edison as a visionary, the so-called “wizard of Menlo Park.” Yet even Edison would have marveled at what we are capable of today, and just as astonishing, at how Korea now stands as a vanguard of technological change.

More than a century ago, it was American innovation that helped illuminate Korea. Today, Korean innovation is helping enlighten the world. And I am convinced that, working together, we can accelerate more breakthrough innovations and make the 21st century a time of hope, progress and prosperity.

Thank you.



Chairman, President and CEO Marillyn Hewson accepts the Van Fleet Award from Ambassador Thomas C. Hubbard, Chairman, The Korea Society. 


Chairman, President and CEO Marillyn Hewson delivers the Keynote Address to guests at The Korea Society Annual Dinner.