South Korea Prepares Major Blow To North Korea

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry announced on February 14 that it agreed to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba for the first time in 65 years, after a meeting with UN representatives of both countries in New York, the Associated Press reported.

The following day, a senior official from South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol suggested that establishing relations with Cuba would be a “political and psychological blow” to North Korea.

While South Korea severed diplomatic ties with Cuba following the Cuban Revolution in 1959, North Korea maintained close diplomatic relations with the communist island nation. Cuba is one of only ten countries to have an embassy in Pyongyang.

The official, who spoke anonymously to reporters in Seoul, said Pyongyang traditionally portrays its relationship with Cuba as “brotherly ties.” He said by opening ambassador-level relations with Havana, Seoul could “deal a significant political and psychological blow” to their adversary to the north.

According to the official, President Yoon had been actively wooing the Cubans but Havana was at first hesitant to re-establish ties due to its longstanding relations with Pyongyang.

The official said opening diplomatic relations with Cuba was a “culmination” of Seoul’s efforts to expand diplomacy to socialist bloc countries, including those that have diplomatic relations with the North.

According to the official, the United States was informed in advance about Seoul’s decision to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lim Soosuk said Cuba had been the only South American/Caribbean country that did not have diplomatic ties with South Korea. He said restoring official relations would open up new business opportunities for South Korean companies while making it easier for Seoul to provide consular assistance to South Korean nationals in Cuba.

Lim said Seoul would discuss with Havana ways in which the two countries could “promote friendship.”