President Joe Biden on Sunday touted Hyundai’s recently announced decision to build a $5.5 billion electric vehicle plant in Georgia, a move he said shows how the U.S. and South Korea together can shape the direction of the world for the better while also creating more than 8,000 American jobs.
“Electric vehicles are good for our climate goals,” Biden said at a public appearance in Seoul with the chairman of Hyundai Motor Group. “But they’re also good for jobs. And they’re good for business.”
Biden is ending the South Korean portion of his five-day Asia trip continuing to emphasize the joint themes of expanded economic and security cooperation that have predominated since he arrived Friday.
Biden told reporters he is not concerned about the U.S. intelligence assessment that North Korea could conduct a missile or nuclear test during his trip.
“We are prepared for anything North Korea does,” Biden said.
Asked if he has a message for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Biden responded, “Hello.” A few seconds later he added, “period.”
Before leaving for Japan, Biden went to the Combat Operations Floor of Osan Air Base where he addressed Korean and American troops.
“I won’t attempt Korean but…we go together and we go together well,” Biden said, giving the English version of the Korean phrase "katchi kapshida" used to describe the relationship between the two militaries.
“And by the way, we go together,” Biden said, offering his hand to South Korean President Yoon Syk Yeol.
Yoon, speaking through an interpreter, told Biden he really felt "assured, seeing you today, as the center of our defense.”
The previous day, the leaders announced they’re considering expanding military exercises in response to North Korea’s progressing missile and nuclear program.
Joint announcement: US, South Korea could expand military exercises as deterrence to North Korea
North Korea has test-launched multiple missiles in recent months, including nuclear-capable missiles potentially able to reach South Korea, Japan or the U.S.
Yoon took office less than two weeks ago after a closely contested March election in which he vowed to bolster South Korea's defenses against North Korea.
He also promised to deepen the alliance between the two countries and to play a greater role in the Indo-Pacific, a welcome development for Biden who is intent on building a coalition there to counter China's rising influence.
When Biden is in Tokyo Monday, he will launch an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework aimed at steering economic strategy in the region.
Yoon announced Saturday that South Korea will participate in the initiative.
“Our two nations will work in concert to build a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific,” Yoon, speaking through an interpreter, said at a joint news conference with Biden. “And taking that first step is to participate in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.”
In addition to the $5.5 billion electric vehicle plant, Hyundai is also spending another $5 billion on artificial intelligence for autonomous vehicles and other technologies.
The plant, scheduled to open in 2025 near Savannah, is the largest economic project in Georgia’s history, according to Gov. Brian Kemp.
It was formally announced in Georgia on Friday as Biden began his Asia trip touring a Samsung semiconductor plant in Pyeongtaek. The plant serves as a blueprint for a $17 billion facility the electronics company plans to open near Austin.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden focused on economic, security cooperation with South Korea