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Cuba and South Korea finalize details for the resumption of diplomatic relations

Since the the start of the Castro regime, the communist island nation broke relations with Seoul to become an ally of the Soviet bloc and Pyongyang. Since 2005, the two countries have been working to reestablish ties.

An elderly man walks in front of a mural with the Cuban flag.(YAMIL LAGE / AFP)

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South Korean diplomatic sources have assured that they intend to open their embassy in Cuba "as soon as possible." Several members of the South Korean delegation have been on the Caribbean island since June 14 with the aim of restoring diplomatic relations with the communist government headed by Miguel Diaz-Canel.

South Korea and Cuba announced on Feb. 14 that they will cooperate to open a new chapter in their bilateral relations. Neither of the two countries has permanent diplomatic representation with the other as a result of their positions during the Cold War.

Although diplomatic relations existed between the two countries prior to Castro's victory, they were severed once the communist regime was installed. Since then, Cuba became one of North Korea's top allies, a position it still maintains today. Cuba is the only country from the communist bloc that South Korea does not yet have diplomatic relations with, with the exception of its northern neighbor.

As a South Korean diplomacy team is in Havana, one from the communist regime would also be stationed in Seoul. AFP sources assure that the opening of relations could take place very soon, though the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not made any statement on the matter. Until now, both governments maintain their official diplomatic relations and consular services through their delegations in Mexico City and Tokyo, respectively.

Trade mission

Although there is no South Korean embassy in Havana, there has been a trade mission representing Seoul's interests on the island since 2005, which has also worked to cooperate on the promotion of exchanges between the two countries.

According to data gathered by AFP, Korean exports to Cuba reached $35.67 million in 2023. They were mainly plated steel, manufactured products for the automotive industry, vehicles and generators. The total figure is not comparable with that of Seoul's other trading partners, but it does represent progress in building common interests to advance diplomatic relations.