|The world has been showing great interest in the upcoming 2018 Inter-Korean Summit. Media outlets from around the globe are covering stories related to the Korean Peninsula, visiting the Peace House in Panmunjeom, the summit venue, and the Demilitarized Zone, and holding interviews with people who have left their homes in the North. In line with this, Korea.net is meeting with diplomatic envoys to Seoul to learn more about their perspectives on the upcoming Inter-Korean Summit.|
By Yoon Sojung and Kim Hyelin
Photos = Jeon Han
Video = Kim Sunjoo
Seoul | April 9, 2018
Ambassador Rodolfo Solano Quirós of Costa Rica has dubbed the upcoming Inter-Korean Summit as “the gate to peace on the Korean Peninsula, in Latin America and all around the world.”
“I would call this interesting correlation between Inter-Korean Summits and Latin America a very happy historical coincidence.”
“This is because there’s an interesting relationship between Inter-Korean Summits and Latin America,” he said, noting that the previous Inter-Korean Summits in 2000 and 2007 were followed by Seoul’s action to bolster ties with Latin American countries.
“Following the first Inter-Korean Summit between former President Kim Dae-jung and former North Koran leader Kim Jong Il in 2000, Korea began FTA talks with two Latin American economies, Chile and Costa Rica. After the 2007 Inter-Korean Summit between former President Roh Moo-hyun and North Koran leader Kim Jong Il, President Roh visited Costa Rica to meet with all Central American presidents,” said the ambassador.
“Earlier this year, Seoul signed an FTA with five Central American economies. And after the 2018 Inter-Korean Summit, starting over the next 14 months, Latin America will also be on the horizon for Seoul. President Moon Jae-in will attend the G20 in Argentina this July and next year we will host APEC in Chile where President Moon will have summits with eight Central American leaders,” he said.
Ambassador Quirós emphasized that both Costa Rica, which this year will celebrate the 70th anniversary of abolishing its army, and Korea have the common goal of peace. Korea.net sat down with him to learn more about Costa Rica’s view on the upcoming Inter-Korean Summit.
– The world has been paying attention to the 2018 Inter-Korean Summit. What was the reaction of the Costa Rican government and its people after hearing the news about the next Inter-Korean Summit?
Even if we are geographically far away from Korea, we are very happy to be witness to this important summit. Last year, President Moon Jae-in announced a new initiative and the Costa Rican government and the Costa Rican people follow and support these steps. We see this as momentum for the beginning of a new era and the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the Korean Peninsula.
– Costa Rica is a permanently neutral country with no military, and is considered to be a country of peace in Latin America. What do you think is the top priority for the establishment of peace and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula?
Peace is not only the absence of war. Peace is also opportunity, cooperation and education. We believe that in this new chapter that President Moon is leading, we can start new momentum to understand that peace represents also international cooperation, inter-Korean dialogue, humanitarian assistance, and — very important — family reunions. For Koreans and Costa Ricans, the essence of peace starts with the essence of family. If we can cooperate, we have a dream to see Korean families once again unite with their family members.
– What expectations and prospects do you have for the upcoming summit?
We look at this summit as the key to opening the door to the horizon of hope, and most importantly, as a first step and opportunity to understanding each other. The Costa Rican people are totally committed to supporting the Korean government and the people of Korea to achieve these goals on the peninsula: free from nuclear weapons, peace and stability, inter-Korean cooperation, humanitarian assistance, observation and the promotion of human rights.
– If you were to send a message of hope and success for the 2018 Inter-Korean Summit, what would it be?
President Moon is a well-known human rights leader. One week ago, we just elected our new president in Costa Rica. Through our election system, we reaffirm our support for human rights.
I can see opportunity and hope in President Moon. With his authentic smile, he can share with the North Korean leader and the North Korean people the honesty and sincerity of the Korean people, to work together. This is the issue. We need to start talking, but, most importantly, we need to move forward to work together. This is the only way to achieve these goals together.