The Korea Herald


Costa Rica honors ex-Korean envoy for superb diplomacy

By Joel Lee

Published : Nov. 27, 2017 - 17:34

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The Costa Rican government honored former Korean Ambassador Shin Soon-chull with the National Order “Juan Mora Fernandez,” which is endowed upon ambassadors and other high-level foreign individuals that have exceptionally served the Central American nation.

The award is named after Costa Rica’s first elected head of state Juan Mora Fernandez (1784-1854), who channeled his patriotism and modesty to look after his compatriots’ well-being, according to the Costa Rican Embassy in Seoul.

Shin served as Korea’s top envoy to Costa Rica from 2001-2003, his first ambassadorship and Korea’s eighth ambassador to the nation that established diplomatic relations with Seoul in 1962. Shin helped reopen the Costa Rican Embassy in Seoul in March 2002 after it closed in 1999. He also played an important role in helping organize the summit between former Presidents Miguel Angel Rodriguez (1998-2002) and the late Kim Dae-jung (1998-2003) in 2001 and 2002. 

The award ceremony for former Korean Ambassador Shin Soon-chull who received the National Order “Juan Mora Fernandez The award ceremony for former Korean Ambassador Shin Soon-chull who received the National Order “Juan Mora Fernandez" from the Costa Rican government at the embassy on Nov. 21 (Costa Rican Embassy)

Shin also established the Costa Rica-Korea Congressmen’s Friendship Association, actively promoted Korean investments in Costa Rica, and helped transfer medical equipment and computers to the country as part of Korea’s official development assistance program, the diplomatic mission said.

“Costa Rica is a country that taught me how to live a good life,” Shin said at the award ceremony at the embassy in Seoul on Nov. 21. “Costa Rica’s everyday expression for greeting is ‘pura vida,’ meaning ‘pure life.’ Likewise, Costa Ricans truly know how to lead clean lives and be happy in their untamed environment.”

Located between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica is among the world’s leading ecological destinations, with more than 25 percent of its territory devoted to national parks, covering rain forests, inactive and active volcanoes, hot springs, islands, beaches, caves, river canyons and waterfalls. Over 52 percent of its land is covered by forests home to rich wildlife and vegetation.

Costa Rica also taught Shin the values of democracy, peace, human rights and environment, he noted, pointing out that the country abolished its military and champions democracy and human rights.

Dubbed the “Switzerland of Central America,” Costa Rica frequently scores high on global happiness rankings, and last year topped the Happy Planet Index that measures welfare, life expectancy, social equality, ecological environment and other factors. Oscar Arias Sanchez, Costa Rican president from 1986 to 1990 and 2006 to 2010, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his efforts to end the Central American crisis.

By Joel Lee (