Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Editors H.D. Kim, Joy Cho
Charge d’Affaires Johnny D. Reinoso-Vasquez of the Republic of Ecuador in Seoul said that Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon visited his country in May last year and greatly contributed to the enhancement of relations between the two countries in the various fields.
Currently, former Prime Minister Lee enjoys an extremely high measure of popularity among the Korean people and at present stands the best chance of winning the Presidential election in less two years later. Following his visit to Ecuador last May, former Premier Lee told the Korean press that there was great potential for increased cooperation between Korea and Ecuador.
Speaking at an exclusive interview with The Korea Post media on June 16 this year, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language media for the past 35 years, CDA Reinoso-Vasquez said, “Prime Minister Lee visited our country and, on that occasion, we made a lot of improvements in international programs between Ecuador and Korea.”
According to CDA Reinoso-Vasquez, Korea and Ecuador discussed ways to further improve and expand cooperation in the academic, economic, trade and various other fields.
Details of cooperation included the introduction to Korea the worlds of Oswaldo Guayasamín who is one of the most famous artists in the world.
He died many years ago, but he is one of the most well-known artists in Latin America. Former prime minister of Ecuador went to the chapel of Oswaldo Guayasamín and saw all the paintings and the artwork and he really loved.
Ecuador plans to bring his works to Korea for exhibition—sometime in December this year.
Former Prime Minister Lee, as was briefly mentioned afore, has a very high opinion of Ecuador and her people.
Lee, after his return to Seoul from Ecuador, told the Korean press that Ecuador and Korea had both great potential for increased cooperation with each other as they had very good prospects for mutual benefits.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Korea also had a very high opinion of Ecuador.
Ecuador has a land size equivalent to 1.3 times the entire Korean peninsula and has a very rich history and culture where the people are very kind-hearted and open-minded as well as a very kind people. Thus, Ecuador has the nickname of an ‘Undiscovered Gem of Latin America.’ Ecuador has brilliant culture of her own with a mixture of Inca Civilization which has been inherited from generation to generation for a long, long time.
Like Korea, Ecuador also has a history of external occupation that continued for 300 years, which, however, the Ecuadorean people used to incorporate into their own culture.
Ecuador won her independence in the early part of the 19th century and achieved modernization. Since then, Ecuador has been a very high annual economic growth and development—averaging 4% annually.
Ecuador has a population of 15 million people, and enjoys a diverse and unique natural environment. In Ecuador, which is situated on the equator, people can enjoy the features of the four seasons of the year all at the same time, including tropical weather of the Amazon Region, the semi-tropical features along the Pacific coast and the warm and cold features of the Andes Mountains.
Korea and Ecuador established diplomatic relations in 1962 and have since then continuously increased bilateral cooperation and friendship for the past 58 years, During the Korean War in 1950-3, Ecuador provided Korea with material assistance valued at US$100,000. Ecuador is also among the first countries actively promoting economic cooperation and is noted as the world’s first country to import the Pony cars of the Hyundai Motors.
At the interview with The Korea Post, CDA Reinoso-Vasquez discussed a wide range of topics interesting to further promotion of relations and cooperation between Ecuador and Korea. Excerpts from the interview follow:
Question: What are the important developments scheduled between Korea and your country in the next 12 months?
Answer: Ecuador and Korea have excellent relations between the two countries. We had very important visits in the past; one year ago, we had the official visit of the Prime Minister of Korea to Ecuador.
At that time, the two countries greatly improved international programs between Korea and Ecuador, especially international cooperation, academic cooperation, trade exchange and also donations from Korea to Ecuador.
We are also scheduled to bring the Exposition of Master Oswaldo Guayasamin, who is one of the most famous artists in the world. He is from Ecuador and is one of the most famous artists in the world. He died many years ago, but he is one of the best-known artists in Latin America.
It is also well known that Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon of Korea visited the Chapel of Oswaldo Guayasamin where he saw many of his paintings and artwork.
Prime Minister Lee very highly admired the artworks and expressed his decision to open an exhibition of his works in Seoul. I believe that we will see the works of Oswaldo Guayasamin at his exhibition I Seoul. This has been confirmed.
Oswaldo Guayasamin is one of the most famous artists of America, not only in Latin America but also in all parts of the American Continent and in many other parts of the world. He died many years ago, but he is very much alike in the hearts of many people.
He is part indigenous and part mixed race with the whiter race in Ecuador, but his work is focused on indigenous people and the feelings of the people, especially of the people who are suffering, notably of the people who are claiming to change things.
He became very famous because this art is very different, which is similar to Picasso in terms of the contrast and especially the non-realistic pictures that he describes which are very different, and for this reason, we want to bring him to Asia in order that Asian people will know more about Oswaldo.
This is also because nobody here knows the betterments of his art, so we hope that with this exposition, it will bring a very big change in the understanding of art of our region.
We hope that the Korean people, and the Asian people, will start appreciating the work of Latin American artists. This showing will be a part of a very big exposition from Latin America.
On his works, even the Minister of Foreign Affairs of states that the exposition will be a very good icon of Latin America itself, not just from Ecuador because Oswaldo Guayasamin represents a group of artists of Latin America.
Q: Is there any plan for the Head of Government of your country to visit Korea?
A: We had a plan for an official visit of our Vice President Lenin Moreno to Korea, but sadly due to the outbreak of COVID-19, we had to cancel the program this year. My country and Korea had important visit plans, also including the visit of our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jose Valencia Amores, to come to Korea for a very important climate change summit this month, and also at the end of this year, because we had a very important bilateral trade treaties. However, due to the situation, everything has changed. I would say that it is not only my country but many other countries who had to cancel such important visits.
However, I hope that we can materialize the visit plan next year for our Vice President and other important officials.
Q: Please introduce the Head of Government of Ecuador.
A: The Head of Government of my country is Mr. Lenin Moreno, who is the President of the Republic of Ecuador. The tenure of office of the President in our country is 4 years, and President Moreno is now in the third year in office.
Ecuador is scheduled to have her Presidential election in May next year.
We do not know who will win and take over the power of the country.
At this time, the second authority of Ecuador is the Vice President. We do not have a Prime Minister and therefore Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner is the highest official next to the President.
Vice President Sonnenholzner, he is a very young leader who has made remarkable achievements, especially in the promotion of trade with the U.S., Europe and, of course, Asia.
Q: Do you have any economic and/or other delegations coming to Korea or any economic meetings in Korea?
A: As you may be aware, Ecuador maintains very good relations in the political, economic and various other areas.
In particular, our relations stand out in the area of economic cooperation with Korea. Korea prefers high-quality products, the market of Korea prefers the good quality products, and in that respect, Ecuador is a good match.
Ecuador develops very good products and they include roses, cacao and a number of other products which enjoy the highest standard of quality and popularity.
The Korean market prefers the products of Ecuador and even if they’re very expensive, they still enjoy special popularity among the Korean consumers. For example, one rose of Ecuador in Korea is really expensive and it’s not easy to find. One Ecuadoran rose here in Korea can cost US$30-35, which is very expensive. However, this is due to the unmatched high quality.
In the case of the roses, we have the biggest and most beautiful products in the world because we are in the middle of the world, where they can grow very fast and big.
Q: Who are the Korean companies actively contributing to the promotion of economic cooperation with Ecuador?
A: Korean companies also have very good relations with Ecuador. Samsung, LG, and Hyundai are in Ecuador with their resident representative offices. They are exporting a lot of products to Ecuador. Ecuadoran people prefer Samsung’s technology and the company has a very good reputation in our country.
The people in Ecuador prefer the technology of Korean companies as well as Korean products.
The first export of cars from Korea was from Hyundai. It was Pony and I think it was around 1976. At that time, the Ponies were very well-liked by people in Ecuador and it was driven even by the grandmother of the Vice President of our country at that time.
Q: What are the areas where you want Korean companies to cooperate with your country?
A: I would say that it is green energy. The Galapagos Islands are among the most famous and beautiful places in the world.
We are now developing some projects, especially in energy sector in Ecuador in order to replace the old system of energy on the island. For example, gasoline-driven buses are being replaced with electrical busses. They have ambitious plans to replace the gasoline-driven buses with electric buses.
It will take time but they aim to realize the program.
Q: We trust that there are areas where Korean and Ecuador can cooperate with each other in a win-win fashion.
A: In Korea, you have a high standard of technology and in Ecuador, we have a lot of natural resources. My country is a very rich, super-rich country in the fact that Ecuador has a lot of natural resources.
We have plenty of petroleum, gold, diamonds, and we have everything on the earth.
We also have the jungles and abundant mineral resources that simply we are yet to explore. In this respect, I would say that Korea and Ecuador can make a perfect match.
In fact, this is our intention with the Korean government. We want to develop, explore the gold and petroleum and many other good resources we have in Ecuador.
Q: Please introduce the National Day of your country.
A: We have two important days in Ecuador. One of them is May 24 when the Independence Movement of Ecuador started—along with a number of other countries fighting for independence from Spain.
We also have the 10th of August when we formally won independence from Spain. These two days are really important days for Ecuador.
Q: What are the major tourist destinations in your country?
A: Ecuador is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It is not because it’s my country, but because it is true.
We have four worlds in one small country. First, we start with the islands. We have the Galapagos Islands. They are a natural treasure of humankind. Even Charles Darwin developed his theory in the Galapagos. It is really beautiful and it is one of the best destinations for tourists in the whole world.
Secondly, we have extremely beautiful beaches together with scenic coastal region. The water is very hot, but it’s really wonderful.
We have highlands, really big and high mountains. We also have really beautiful volcanos. Cotopaxi is one of the most beautiful volcanoes in the world and Chimborazo Mountain is the highest point on the earth. It towers into the sky, more than 6,000 meters from sea level.
Many people say that the Chimborazo Mountain is the closest to the sun. It’s really amazing because even the water there in the highlands, in Sierra, it’s an all-year spring. We don’t have four seasons. We have spring, always blue skies and its perfect. And then we have the Amazon Jungle. Ecuador is a small country but we have these Four Worlds. We can have breakfast in the beach, lunch in the highlands and dinner in the jungle, all in one day--just travelling by your car. You don’t need aircraft but just a car and it’s only four hours’ driving. Also, it is very easy to travel in Ecuador where you can enjoy different water, different people, and different food.
The food of the coastal region is really different from those of the highlands and so are the peoples. So, they say Ecuador has four worlds in one country!
Q: Do you have Korean honorary consuls for Ecuador?
A: Yes, we have two Honorary Consuls. One of them is Mr. Young Kang in Busan and the other is Ms. Eun-Sun Kim in Daejeon.
They are both very kind-hearted and offer a great measure cooperation with us. In fact, many Koreans make great contributions to the promotion and enhancement of cooperation and friendship between my country and Korea.
For instance, when we have our National Day celebration, we have offers from many Korean celebrities, not only our honorary consuls but also the big Korean companies and also start-up business companies.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my gratitude to the Korean people as well as the government.
Especially in these days of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have received amazing cooperation from the private and public sectors, enterprises of Korea, and the common people of Korea who have given us donations in a very generous way. Also, we have a great measure of appreciation to the Korean government for their support helping us deal with this pandemic which is a terrible situation for Ecuador.
Also, I’d like to say that we are now improving and things are getting better especially with the health system in Ecuador. In Ecuador we had a bad situation but now fortunately due to the international cooperation from countries like Korea, the situation is getting much better.
Korea and Ecuador are stepping up mutual cooperation in various areas, especially in the economic sector.
On Jan. 21 this year, the 7th Meeting of ROK-Ecuador Joint Committee took place.
Director-Geneal Jo Yung-joon of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Korea for Latin American and Caribbean Affairs hosted the 7th meeting of the Republic of Korea-Republic of Ecuador Joint Committee with Ms. Laura Donoso, Undersecretary for Africa, Asia and Oceania of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Quito, Ecuador, on January 20th this year.
The two sides assessed the ROK-Ecuador relations, and discussed economic and trade cooperation; infrastructure and investment; development cooperation; educational cooperation; cultural cooperation; and the current situations on the Korean Peninsula and in Latin America.
At the meeting, DG Jo took note that Ecuador, as the ROK’s traditional ally, has maintained close and cooperative relations, and stressed that former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon’s official visit to Ecuador in May last year provided a turning point in taking the bilateral relations to a higher level.
In particular, DG Jo hoped that substantive cooperation in the infrastructure sector will further increase, and asked for the Ecuadorian government’s cooperation in ensuring the smooth conclusion of the contract on the Manta Airport operation project, being pursued by the Korea Airports Corporation.
The Ecuadorian side introduced major government-led infrastructure projects in a range of areas, including solar power and railway projects, and asked for further participation of Korean companies.
The Ecuadorian side said that the ROK’s development cooperation is contributing significantly to the development of Ecuador, and the two sides agreed to further strengthen and diversify cooperation in renewable energy as well as sharing the ROK’s experience of economic development, and educational cooperation, including expanding training programs for foreign students.
In addition, the two sides discussed ways to step up consular cooperation, including the conclusion of the treaty on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, as well as maritime security cooperation. They also agreed to expand cooperation in responses to climate change, including the 2nd P4G Summit to be hosted by the ROK this year.
The two sides said that an art exhibition of Guayasamín to be held in Seoul in the second half of this year will serve as an opportunity to facilitate two-way cultural and artistic exchanges between the two countries.
At the luncheon hosted by Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Cristian Espinosa of Ecuador, after the Joint Committee meeting, the two sides exchanged views on the current situations on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, as well as those in Ecuador and Latin America, and agreed to continue to strengthen cooperation between the two countries on the global stage.
The 7th meeting of the Joint Committee, held two years after the 6th meeting (March 2018, Quito), is seen to have served as an opportunity to review the overall ROK-Ecuador relations, which have taken a leap forward following former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon’s official visit to Ecuador in May last year, and to explore ways to strengthen substantive cooperation between the two countries.