Go to contents

Castro’s Retirement Not to Affect Korea-Cuba Ties

Posted February. 21, 2008 03:02,   


Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s retirement will not significantly affect his country’s warming relations with South Korea. The two sides have grown closer over the past several years.

South Korea has diplomatic relations with all countries in the world except Cuba and two others. When Castro took power in 1959, his government severed relations with Seoul and formed ties with North Korea, including military exchanges.

With the opening of the new millennium, positive changes began between Seoul and Havana. The breakthrough came in April 2001, when South Korean parliamentary speaker Lee Man-sup visited Cuba for talks with Castro. Lee gave him as a token of friendship a Korean baseball glove and ball. They also agreed to open a Korean trade representative office in Havana.

The office opened in September 2005, and subsequently, South Korean exports to Cuba jumped from 40 million U.S. dollars in 2005 to 200 million dollars in 2006. Korean TVs, refrigerators and cars are now popular in Cuba.

In addition, the Cuban government in 2005 placed an order with Hyundai Heavy Machinery for a diesel generator worth 800 million dollars. The generator produces one third of the island country’s power. Last year, Havana honored the company by printing Hyundai on its ten-peso bill.

In July 2006, right before he suffered intestinal bleeding, Castro visited the Hyundai construction site and stressed Cuba’s need to learn from South Korea.