- In May 1961 when I took over power as the leader of the revolutionary group, I honestly felt as if I had been given a pilfered household or bankrupt firm to manage. Around me I could find little hope of encouragement. The outlook was bleak. But I had to rise above this pessimism to rehabilitate the household. I had to destroy, once and for all, the vicious circle of poverty and economic stagnation. Only by reforming the economic structure would we lay a foundation for decent living standards.
- As quoted in An economy in armor; in Korea's quiet revolution (1992), by Frank B. Gibney, New York: Walker and Company, p. 50.
- Already into the last week of October! The dying fall holds only loneliness. In the garden the chrysanthemums bloom, beautiful, peaceful, as they did a year ago, but the autumn leaves, falling one by one, only make me sad.
- Diary entry (October 1974), as quoted in The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History Revised and Updated (2001), by Don Oberdorfer, p. 55.
- A year ago on this day around 9:45 a.m. you came downstairs dressed in an orange Korean dress and we left together for the ceremonies. You were leaving the Blue House for the last time in your life. This day a year ago was the longest of my life, the most painful and sad. My mind went blank with grief and despair. I felt as though I had lost everything in the world. All things became a burden and I lost my courage and will. A year has passed since then. And during that year I have cried alone in secret too many times to count.
- Diary entry (15 August 1975), as quoted in The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History Revised and Updated (2001), by Don Oberdorfer, p. 56.
- If we are weak, our country will be in jeopardy. It is the living lesson of human history of the rise and fall of nations. In order for a country not to fall, it must cultivate its own strength.
- As quoted in Toward Peaceful Unification: Selected Speeches & Interviews (1978), Kwangmyong Publishing Company, p. 31.
- But the challenge must be faced squarely. I believe we can overcome it through our own efforts. We must do so. They key is our national power. Take courage from our national pride and traditions, no matter how thorny the road to independence may be.
- As quoted in Toward Peaceful Unification: Selected Speeches & Interviews (1978), Kwangmyong Publishing Company, pp. 47-48.