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Amb. Braastad Marks National Day of Norway
Reception at Hilton Drew Hundreds of Guests
Amb. Braastad and Mrs. Braastad in Constitution Day reception

Ambassador to Seoul Arild Braastad and his wife hosted a reception at the Millennium Seoul Hilton on the occasion of the National Day of Norway at 6 p.m. May 17, 2005.

The standing buffet style reception held at Hilton's Grand Ballroom attracted well over 200 high-profile guests. The parade of Norwegians donned in traditional Norwegian attire caught the attention of all the participants.

Members of of the diplomatic corps in Seoul also came to congraduate Amb. Braastad on Norway's Constitution Day. Among them were Amb. MK. Helmy of Egypt, Amb. Zaid Al-Sherida of Kuwait, Amb. Uzi Manor of Israel, Amb. Babiker Ali Khalifa of Sudan, Amb. Ahriz Abdelmoun'aam of Algeria, Amb. Carlos M.L. Frota of Portugal, Amb. Hussein Rammal of Lebanon, and Amb. Saleh M. Al-Rajhy of Saudi Arabia, Amb. Carlos M.L. Frota of Portugal, Amb. Selim Kuneralp of Turkey, Amb. Gunayavedalage. Wijayasiri of Sri Lanka, and Amb. Sydney Bafana Kubheka of South Africa, Amb. Tomas Smetanka of Czech Republic.

Foreign ambassadors in Norway's Constitution Day reception

Down below is the extensive country report on Norway and its relations with South Korea.

Report on Norway and Its Ties with Seoul

The Way to the North

Norway is situated far North on the world map, right on the top of Europe. The arctic circle goes through the country, and even Norway's name means "way to the North." People in Norway have strong bonds with the ocean, their traditions as seafarers and traders goes a long time back in history. In more modern times the abundant petroleum reserves in the North Sea has contributed greatly to the country's growth and prosperity. Today the standard of living for its 4.5 million population is among the highest in the world with a GDP per capita of USD 38,000. As a well developed democracy and a modern industrialized nation, Norway plays an active role in the world community.

Increasing Cooperation Between our two Nations
Since diplomatic relations were established between Norway and Korea in 1959, the two countries have expanded their relationship in many fields. On the political level there is a great deal of cooperation, and the two countries often share a common view on international affairs in a variety of political sectors. Korea and Norway have signed a number of economic agreements; areas include taxation, shipping, industry, research and banking. Furthermore, bilateral trade and investments shows a promising and steady growth.

In regard to cultural cooperation, the world famous piano player Leif Ove Andsnes together with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra had a concert at LG Arts Center in February 2005. Also, educational exchange have increased over the past few years. Several Norwegian students visit Korea for a semester and vice-versa through exchange agreements between educational institutions. Furthermore, at the University of Oslo there is a Korean Studies Department, further deepening the understanding of each other's cultures.

Given the increasing contact between individuals and organizations in Korea and Norway, there is every reason to believe that the traditional cooperation in business and politics will be strengthened and expanded into other areas in the future.

The Royal Family

The tradition of Norwegian kingship in various forms stretches back more than a thousand years. In more recent times the country was united with Demark from 1381 to 1814 and with Sweden from 1814 until 1905 when it once more became independent under Haakon VII of Norway.

King Harald V of Norway, addresses the Millennium Summit held at UN Headquarters in New York Sept. 6-8, 2000

Today the Royal Family consists of HM King Harald V, HM Queen Sonja, HRH Crown Prince Haakon, HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit, HRH Princess Ingrid Alexandra and Princess Märtha Louise. Princess Märtha Louise and her husband Ari Behn have two daughters, Maud Angelica Behn and Leah Isadora Behn.

Prime Minister Mr. Kjell Magne Bondevik
Mr. Bondevik was appointed Prime Minister in October 2001. He heads a minority centre-conservative government of three parties. This is the second time he is Prime Minister; his first time in office was from 1997 to 2000.

Royal family of Norway

The 57-year old Mr. Bondevik is a proud father of three children and is happily married with his wife Bjorg. The western Norwegian town of Molde, known for its jazz festival and football, is the Prime Minister's home town. He himself enjoys football very much; in fact he is an enthusiastic amatour player as well as an eager supporter of his hometown-team.

Mr. Bondevik is a theological candidate, and has a long career in politics. He holds several honorable doctorates, including one in politics from Wonkwang University and one in philosopy from Kyung Hee University.

In January 2002 Mr. Kjell Magne Bondevik was the first Norwegian Prime Minister to pay an official visit to Korea, and he is a personal friend with the former president Mr. Kim Dae-jung who received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in 2000.

Growing Bilateral Trade and Investments

Trade and investments between Norway and Korea has grown significantly over the past ten years and Korea is today one of Norway's major trade partners in Asia. A key sector in the relationship is the maritime industries where both countries have long traditions, but there is also increased cooperation in other areas. Korea is an important market for Norwegian seafood, and the automotive sector and the IT sector are experiencing more cooperation with Korea. Furthermore, the energy sector and the environmental field are interesting to Norwegian businesses.

Korean brands are experiencing rising popularity in Norway, and many homes are equipped with Samsung and LG TVs and DVD-players, young people want the latest models of Samsung phones, and Hyundai cars are sold to many people who appreciate the good Korean design and quality. The total import from Korea to Norway in 2004 was USD 322, 592, 000. worth of ships, cars, chemicals, telephone systems and textiles. When it comes to Norwegian export to Korea, major categories include ship equipment, machinery, petroleum, and seafood, and the total figure stood at USD 560, 310, 000 last year.

Norway has today one of the world's largest commercial shipping fleets, and is also a leading manufacturer of ship's gear and is innovative in R&D in this sector. Korea currently stands for over 40 percent of the world's shipbuilding and is therefore a major market for Norwegian suppliers of ship's gear and related services. Good prospects for Korean shipyards are good news for the Norwegian supply industry. Norwegian ship owners have also built many of their ships at Korean shipyards. These ships have been big oiltankers, bulk/ore carriers, container ships, combination carriers and ro-ro ships.

Having one of the highest annual seafood consumption in the world, Korea is considered a very promising market for Norwegian seafood. Since the liberalization of the Korean fish imports in 1992, Norwegian seafood export to Korea has developed positively. Norway is the largest fish-exporting nation in the world, and seafood is in fact the second largest export product after petroleum.

Norwegian companies have increased their presence and investments in Korea. Korea is viewed as a strategically important place to be, both in terms of the large domestic market and the proximity to other East-Asian markets, and because of Koreas industries' growth. For 2003 the total number for Norwegian FDI to Korea stood at about US$ 5,700,000 according to KOTRA.

About 50 Norwegian businesses are operating in Korea. Most companies are shipping and ship's gear and services companies, which have been operating in Korea for decades. Most of them are clustered in southern Korea, Busan and Koje. Other businesses with significant Norwegian investment includes the paper industry, and a few number of companies concerned with the IT- and automotive parts industry. In addition, many companies are represented by local agents in Korea.

There are many successful examples of Norwegian businesses in Korea. Among them are the classification and verification company DNV, which celebrated the completion of 1 million tonnage in Korea recently; Eukor Car Carriers, which ships all of Hyundai and Kia cars from Korea to the world; Kongsberg Maritime, which provides Korean shipyards with sophisticated navigation equipment; and Pan Asia Paper Korea, which makes sure that Korean newspaper readers get their publication printed on quality paper, Odfjell Tank Terminal in Ulsan for chemical storage and distribution, etc.

Korean Information Technology

Korea is well-known to Norwegians as a technologically sophisticated nation. Koreas advanced technology and production capacities combined with the consumers willingness to adapt new technology in their everyday life, makes the Korean market very attractive to Norwegian IT companies.

The potentials presented by the industry include areas such as e-commerce, telecom, high speed Internet and other e-based businesses. Chipcon, a producer of specialized chips, is an example of a Norwegian company newly established in Korea. At this time, the number of Norwegian IT companies active in the Korean market is limited. However, a delegation of Norwegian Internet-, mobile- and media related companies recently made a research trip to Korea to learn more about the Korean technology and market. The future will most likely bring about increased cooperation in this field.

The 17th of May Celebration and the Centennial Anniversary 1905 — 2005

The 17th of May, Norway's Constitution Day, is Norway's main day of national celebration commemorating the establishment of the country's constitution in 1814. That year the more than 400 year union with Denmark ended. Norway entered into a less comprehensive union with Sweden from 1814 until 1905, when it was dissolved by peaceful means. The centennial anniversary will be celebrated in Norway and abroad.

The 17th of May is marked by flags, music, national costumes, parades, and speeches. The royal family symbolizes the unity of the people, and every year they wave to parades of school children from the balcony of the royal palace in Oslo. The celebration is above all the children's day with games and fun parades for everyone. The 17th of May is claimed to be one of the best celebrated national days in the world, because most of the people participates all over the country.

Joyous celebrations and parades are also held in many foreign countries where Norwegians have settled, most notably in the neighboring countries and in the United States. In Korea the 17th of May this year will be celebrated in Busan on the 14th of May with all the ingredients, Norwegian costumes and flags, food, parades, and of course playful children. There will also be a reception in Seoul on the 17th of May.

A Visit to the Land of the Northern Light

Friendly, down-to-earth people, unique scenery, summer nights bright as day and delightful snowy winters make Norway a very special country. In the eyes of most travelers Norway is an exotic country because of its location in the far north, and more and more people choose Norway for their holiday destination. 15-20 000 Korean tourists go to Norway and the other Scandinavian countries every year.

King Harald (right) of of Norway is seen with the Princess Royal (center), and the Prince of Wales (left) in their formal robes walking to St George's Chapel, Windsor, to attend the Order of the Garter ceremony. King Harald V was installed as a Knight of the Garter during the service in the ceremony.

From the North Cape, Europe's most northerly viewpoint to the Lysefjord in the south, Norway shows extremes of nature with everything in between. Narrow fjords which reach up to 200 km inland break the coastline. The fjords and the surrounding mountains, which rise steeply from the water to a height of over 1000 m, are among Norway's most popular tourist attractions.

Norway gives you the opportunity to do everything you could desire, from sporty endavours like a sail on the fjord, hiking in the mountains, or snowboarding, to a hectic and exciting night in the city, or enjoying art like for example Edvard Munch´s famous paintings. You can see Viking ships, visit bustling music festivals, fish for salmon in the river, or just relax in the fresh air. You can visit one of the natural wonders the country can offer, such as the fjords and glaciers, steep waterfalls, the Northern Lights, and the Midnight Sun.

Ambassador to Seoul Arild Braastad

Amb. Braastad and Mr. ambassador greet a guest at reception.

The Norwegian Ambassador to Korea, Mr. Arild Braastad, came to Korea in the summer of 2001. The ambassador is married to Ms. Nina Braastad, and they have two daughters who live in Norway where they are pursuing their studies. In Mr. Braastad's opinion, Korea is truly an interesting country to be posted in, and he and his wife enjoys living here very much.

A graduate of Law in 1975, Mr. Braastad entered the Norwegian foreign service in 1977. Since then he has served in Lagos, Tokyo and Brussels, where he served as a member of the Norwegian delegation to the European Union.

Mr. Braastad says that a lot of changes have taken place in the country since he arrived here, in the areas of economy, culture, domestic politics and the inter-Korean dialog. For him, it is a true privilege and an interesting challenge to be an ambassador in Seoul. During his stay in office he would like to expand the cooperation between the two countries in both the political and economical field, as well as promoting cultural exchanges and tourism.

Photos of Norway's Constitution Day Reception

Miss Julia Timothy (right), communication official of ITEP (Korea Institute of Industrial Technology Evaluation & Planning), poses with Polish Amb. Tadeusz Chomicki at Norway's Constitution Day reception held at Hilton Hotel in Seoul May 17, 2005.

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