(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Feb. 16)

South Korea and Cuba on Wednesday established their diplomatic relationship after exchanging diplomatic documents between their United Nations representatives in New York. Cuba endorsed its diplomatic relations with South Korea in 1949, one year after the founding of South Korea. But Cuba severed the relationship in 1960 after it established diplomatic relations with North Korea in 1960, a year after its Communist revolution. However, the Korean Wave's increasing popularity in the Caribbean country since the 2000s -- and the start of economic exchanges after the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency's establishment of its trade office in Havana in 2005 -- contributed to the diplomatic relationship. We welcome the surprising development achieved by our government's persistent effort to establish ties with the Communist country. The diplomatic relationship represents a milestone in the history of our diplomacy. Since the Roh Tae-woo administration aggressively pushed for diplomacy with the Eastern Bloc fro m 1989 starting with Hungary, South Korea has finished establishing diplomatic relationships with all Socialist states except North Korea. The South has diplomatic relations with 193 countries now, more than the North's 159. Cuba's addition in the list carries great significance in terms of international politics. Cuba was a close ally to North Korea during the Cold War to the extent that former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il called the Cuban leader a "comrade" when he visited Pyongyang in 2018. Cuba took an extremely careful approach to the diplomatic relationship in consideration of North Korea. As a result, President Yoon Suk Yeol approved it in a Cabinet meeting behind closed doors. Cuba's decision to establish the diplomatic relationship should be praised. Since taking power after the Castro brothers' long reign, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel launched practical reforms following the Constitutional amendment in 2019. In 2015, Cuba established diplomatic relations with the United States, too. We ar e curious about what reaction North Korea will show. The recalcitrant state recently defined inter-Korean relations as being "between two hostile states." But Cuba chose South Korea as a partner even though North Korea defined it as "an archenemy." Nuclear weapons and missiles cannot ensure the security of a dictatorship based on the hereditary power succession. Cuba showed that the best way to survive is to accept the changes of the times and take a revisionist path. It must not simply turn away from Cuba's courageous decision. Source: Yonhap News Agency

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