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Neutral Austria Marks Its National Day in Seoul
Amb. Michael Schwarzinger Hosts Reception at Marriot

Austrian Ambassador to South Korea Michael Schwarzinger and his spouse Madam Rosemaria Schwarzinger hosted a dinner reception at At JW Marriot Dongdaemun Hotel in downtown Seoul on Oct. 25 (Thursday), 2018 on the occasion of the Austrian National Day falling on October 26 every year since 1965.

After WWII Austria was occupied by four Allied powers
: Soviet Union, United States, Great Britain, and France. They divided Austria into four zones and its capital Vienna was also split into four. The whole Austria was controlled by the Allies.

But, the occupation ended by the Austrian State Treaty signed on May 15, 1955. On Oct. 26, 1955 the Austrian Parliament passed the constitutional law on permanent neutrality. And the day has been celebrated as the Austrian National Day since 1965.

By the treaty and its constitutional law on permanent neutrality, it cannot enter into any military alliances and any foreign military bases cannot be established on Austrian territory.

The other neutral European countries are Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, and Ireland.

The dinner reception attracted a number of both local Korean and international personalities including Austrian residents living in South Korea.

Among the high-profile guests were scores of top foreign envoys including Latvian Ambassador Peteris Vaivars and EU Ambassador Michael Reiterer.

Austria established its official diplomatic ties with South Korea on May 22, 1963. It also opened official ties with North Korea in the same year.

Austrian Ambassador to S. Korea Michael Schwarzinger (right) and his spouse Madam Rosemaria Schwarzinger (3rd from left) pose for the photo with their guests at the dinner reception held at JW Marriot Dongdaemun Hotel in downtown Seoul on Oct. 25 (Thursday), 2018 on the occasion of the Austrian National Day.

Since then, mutual relations between Vienna and Seoul have been on the steady rise. The two nations have formed various agreements on trade, visa, and investment.

The exchanges of high-level personnel between the land-locked Austria and South Korea have been active particularly in recent years.

In May this year (2018), South Korea's Prime Minister Lee Nak-Yeon visited Austria whereas Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache came to Seoul three months earlier.

The bilateral trade volume reached 2.570 billion US dollars in 2017. Major import-exports items include
semiconductors, automobiles, auto parts, TVs, and regenerated fibers.

Austria invested some 200 million US dollars into South Korea whereas South Korea's investment into the European country amounted 2.6 million US dollars.

As of 2017, a total of 2,553 South Koreans or people of its origin are living in Australia. Among them 440 people are holding Austrian citizenship.

However unofficial ties harks way back to early 1930s when Francesca Donner (Peurancheseuka Doneo: 1900-1992), a daughter of a wealthy Austrian businessman, met Korean politician Syngman Rhee in Vienna and married him soon.

It was in 1933 she met Dr. Rhee, who later became the first and founding president of the Republic of Korea. She became first lady.

But, back then Dr. Rhee, Korean independence fighter living in the US, was visiting Europe to attend a Viennese political gathering. They met in a restaurant. Soon Dr. Rhee, at age 59, proposed her at 34. She followed him to Washington DC and then New York where they married the following year.

She graduated with a Ph.D. in languages from the University of Vienna. She worked at the League of Nations in Geneva as an interpreter before he met Dr. Rhee.

For detials or inquiries contact the Austrian Embassy in Seoul at 02-721-1700.
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