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Costa Rica taps Chairman Kwon as new honorary consulChairman of Soyee Inc., chairman of HUFS alumni assn, ex-chairman of KOIMA

By Lee Sam-sun, Feature editor of The Korea Post

On the occasion of announcement of the appointment of Honorary Consul Kwon Soon-hanof the Republic of Costa Rica in Seoul and the opening of the HonoraryConsulate, Ambassador and Mrs. Lopez Trigo of Costa Richa in Seoul hosted a dinner reception at the Lotte Hotel inSeoul on Dec. 17, 2014.

From left: Ambassador Manuel Lepez Trip of Costa Richa, Mrs. Kwon, Mrs. Lopez Trigo and newly accredited Honorary Consul Kwon of Costa Rica

There were many guests in attendance from Korean society as well as from the Diplomatic Corps. Among them were President Kim In-chul of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS), Chairman Choo Chin-woo of Sajo Group (dean of the Korean Honorary Consuls Corps and honorary consul general of Mauritius), Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post and former National Assemblyman Park Chin.
From the Diplomatic Corps came many mission chiefs accompanied by their spouses. They included Ambassadors Edmundo Sussumu Fujita of Brazil, Nikoloz Apkhazava of Georgia, Michel Idiaquez Baradat of Honduras, Jaime Antonio Pomareda of Peru, VasylMarmazov of Ukraine, Dr. Alba Florio Legnani of Uruguay.

From left, rear row, Honorary Consul Kwon, Mrs. Fujita, Ambassador Fujita, President Kim of HUFS, Honorary Consul Choo Chin-woo (dean of the Corps of Korean Honorary Consuls), Ambassador and Mrs. Lopez Trigo of Costa Rica.

Honorary Consul Kwon being a graduate of HUFS, there were many alumni of his of HUFS.
Kwon is concurrently chairman of the Soyee Product Inc. and former chairman of Korea Importers Association and vice chairman of the Korea International Trade Association.

Speaking to the guests and introducing Honorary Consul Kwon, Ambassador Trigo said: “First of all, he is a very decent, honest and respected person. In the company of his lovely wife, who graces this act with her presence, he raised an exemplary, well-educated family that upholds high moral values and works hard to build a bright future for their own and for their country. Besides, he is very active within the world of education, in his capacity as President, reelected, of the alumni of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, his alma mater to which he is so closely and permanently related. And, finally, he is an important member of the Korean business sector, where he has distinguished himself as an independent, successful entrepreneur that enjoys confidence and support from his peers, who have entrusted him with important leadership positions and responsibilities, one of them nothing less than the presidency of the Korean Importers Association.” See excerpts from his speech toward the end of this Article.

Ambassador Lepez Trigo’s speech was followed by one by Honorary Consul Kwon who said in part: “It is indeed my honor and pleasure to be here at this great and meaningful event and I’d like to thank every one of you for being here today.It’s a special night for me. Tonight, I feel grateful, responsible, and excited to serve as a new Honorary Consul of Costa Rica to Seoul, Korea.” (See excerpts from the speech at the end of this Article.)

Newly accreted Honorary Consul Kwon (center) flanked by Ambassador Lopez Trigo of Costa Riocha (left) and Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post.

There were congratulatory remarks by President Kim Chul of HUFS,presentation of music by his alumni and awarding of the certificate of accreditation of honorary counselshipof Costa Rica to Kwon signed by Minister Yun Byung-se of Foreign Affairs.

Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Lopez Trigo:

When I first arrived in Korea, a little more than three years ago, I learned that Costa Rica had an Honorary Consul to Seoul, Mr. Chong Keon KIM, a very well connected gentleman who simultaneously as the chairman of KOCEC (Korea ? Central America & Caribbean Economic Council), an organization supported by MOFA which from time to time organized some small activities with Central American countries.

Unfortunately, about two and a half years ago Mr. Kim passed away and KOCEC disappeared. Costa Rica then did not have an Honorary Consul here anymore. So, after a while, I thought it would be convenient ? for the good of Costa Rica and of our bilateral relations with this great country the Republic of Korea ? to start looking out for a distinguished Korean citizen who could serve such position with honor, effectiveness and efficiency.
To me, first of all, an Honorary Consul of my country has to be, to put it simply, a decent, honest and respected person. From there on, other requirements could be added to the profile, but I will only mention two:

Honorary Consul Kwon (left) shows a Certificate of Accreditation as Honorary Consul of Costa Rica signed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se presented by a MOFA official on behalf of the minister.

The first one, some kind of relation with the world of education, a matter to which Costa Rica concedes the highest importance since very early in the 19th century, almost since the beginning of our independent life in 1821.
And second, an outstanding trajectory in the world of business, so that his person would be able to help develop economic and trade relations between Costa Rica and Korea.
Then, I started looking for the right person, a process through which I met and paid attention to several potential candidates. That is how I finally arrived to the conclusion, which I do believe was and is absolutely correct, that Mr. Soon Han KWON completely fulfilled and satisfied all the aforementioned requirements.

First of all, he is a very decent, honest and respected person. In the company of his lovely wife, who graces this act with her presence, he raised an exemplary, well-educated family that upholds high moral values and works hard to build a bright future for their own and for their country. Besides, he is very active within the world of education, in his capacity as President, reelected, of the alumni of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, his alma mater to which he is so closely and permanently related. And, finally, he is an important member of the Korean business sector, where he has distinguished himself as an independent, successful entrepreneur that enjoys confidence and support from his peers, who have entrusted him with important leadership positions and responsibilities, one of them nothing less than the presidency of the Korean Importers Association (KOIMA).

This will be the last official act of my Embassy in which I will take part, because by the end of next month, when concluding my tenure as Ambassador of Costa Rica, we will be leaving this admired country and returning to our own. And I do believe that there was no better way to depart from Korea than by having the honor to present you all the new Costa Rican Honorary Consul to Korea, Mr. Soon Han KWON, a person of great value who will, I am sure, meaningfully contribute to enhance and further develop the bilateral relations between our two countries and in whom, I am also sure, Costa Ricans in Korea will find support and sympathy in case of need.

Honorable Mr. Kwon, distinguished Mrs. Kwon, Marta and I are honored to count you among our friends, and I know Costa Rica will be grateful for your outstanding services and your solid loyalty. I wish you every possible success and hope to see you soon in San Jos?, our capital city, where we have always been, and will be very happy to receive and celebrate our friends.

An ice work with the logo of the National Flags of Korea (right) and Costa Rica at the venue of the dinner reception.

Excerpts from the speech of Honorary Consul Kwon:

Buenas noches?
First of all, my sincere appreciation goes to His ExcellencyAmbassador Manuel Lopez Trigo of Costa Rica and S?ora Marta Nunez Madriz, Excellencies the ambassadors, Excellencies the ambassadors and spouses and all the members of the Diplomatic Corps in Korea, and all of distinguished guests.
It is indeed my honor and pleasure to be here at this great, meaningful event and I’d like to thank every one of you for being here today.

It’s a special night for me.
Tonight, I feel grateful, responsible, and excited to serve as a new Honorary Consul of Costa Rica to Seoul, Korea.
Since 1962 when Korea and Costa Rica established diplomatic ties, our friendly and cooperative relations have developed, and are now strong in many areas, including political, economic, social and cultural fields.
I strongly believe that the close relationship between Costa Rica and Korea will last forever.

And, I will do my best to help enhance ties between Korea and Costa Rica and to let people know so that they can better understand Costa Rica’s economy, society, and culture better in the future.
The Republic of Costa Rica is well known for its great coffee, and it is home to a rich variety of plants, animals, and great nature.
This natural paradise is internationally renowned among ecologists for its eco-tourism; the huge portion of the country’s land area is in protected national parks and tourists can thus expect to see an abundance of wildlife such as numerous kinds of birds, Costa Rican monkey species, green turtles, volcano, and Forest reserve.

In 1990’s, one of the world-renowned filmmakers, Steven Spielberg, shot most of the scenes in one of his numerous successful blockbuster movies, “Jurassic Park” in Costa Rica. Recently, a Korean popular TV show “the Rule of Jungle” was taken in Costa Rica.
Furthermore, Costa Rica has a great national football team. I'd like to congratulate the Costa Rican football team for their advancement to the quarter finals in the 2014 World Cup.

I vividly remember the whole Costa Rican people shouting the slogan "Si, se puede", "Si, se puede."
It means "Yes, we can." It's very similar to Korean slogan "Dae Han Min Guk!” (“The Great People’s Republic of Han”).
As an Honorary Consul of Costa Rica to Seoul, Korea, I solemnly and sincerely swear to make every effort to fulfill this great mission. Please join me in this great endeavor.
Once again thank you very much for spending your precious time with us.
I hope you have a pleasant and enjoyable dinner! Muchas Gracias Todos!

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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