Sunday, May 13, 2012

Korean Yeosu Expo are attracting Nordic Royals

Danish Crown Prince Frederik, center, and Crown Princess Mary burn incense during a wreath laying ceremony at the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul, Thursday. / AP-Yonhap

Three Nordic countries share a common foreign policy strategy for Yeosu Expo: Opening up a national pavilion and dispatching members of their royal family.

Denmark, Norway and Sweden have their national pavilions at the expo which celebrated a grand opening Friday. All three countries are expecting a visit by their royal couples — the crown prince alone for Norway — in May.

Danish Crown Prince Frederik and Princess Mary were the first to come, having arrived Thursday. The Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon is arriving today, followed by the King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, who will arrive on May 29.

There are no sensitive diplomatic issues between Korea and the three countries with the exception of Sweden, which maintains active engagement with North Korea.

Yet, the Swedish Ambassador to Seoul Lars Danielsson pointed out “North Korea won’t be the most important issue during this visit. A king doesn’t have a role in the foreign policy of a country.”

Sweden has an embassy in North Korea, representing the interest of Sweden and the United States. It also keeps five military officers as observers at Panmunjeom on the inter-Korean border under the United Nations command.

Among the delegation, the Sweden’s biggest ever to Korea, will be Maria Larsson, minister for health and social affairs, and Annie Loof, minister for enterprise, energy and communication. Both are female, and “that’s not a coincidence,” the ambassador said.

The health minister and Queen Silvia will attend a joint seminar on Dementia: Directions for prevention, management and policy at Bucheon Geriatric Medical Center.

The 29-year-old enterprise minister will accompany the queen to a talk on female leadership at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.
“We’re trying to enable the two developed countries to see what we can do together to develop our countries so that they will be a better place to live,” the ambassador said as to why the queen chose to touch upon gender and welfare issues.

The Swedish King will also lead the Sweden-Korea Innovation & Business Forum.

The Danish royal couple’s visit has a green focus.

Building onto the Korean-Danish Green Growth Alliance born last May, Prince Frederik will take part in the second meeting of the Korean-Danish Green Growth Alliance, and will meet the president of Green Technology Center.

Young, green cooperation between Korea and Denmark has made a remarkable expansion in a short period of time. In May 2011, President Lee Myung-bak flew to Copenhagen to sign the alliance. At the same visit, the Seoul-based Global Green Growth Institute, an international organization, opened up a branch office in Copenhagen.

Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon will keep his stay short, visiting the expo and holding a few closed-door meetings in one day.

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