[K-UNIV Report] Following Korean Trace in Sweden

Sweden has been in a long, deep relationship with South Korea ever since the Korean War. So the friendship between these two countries is very special and strong. This naturally leads to sharing the memories, history and cultures of each other’s countries up to this date.

Sweden is one of the few countries that has a Royal Family. There is a Stockholm Palace (Kungliga Slottet), the official residence of Swedish monarch (King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia), in the center of the city. The Northern row of the palace represents “Royal Power,” the Southern row represents “The Nation,” the Eastern row shows “The Female Qualities,” and the Queen. Lastly, the Western row represents “The Male Qualities” and the King. This palace has a lot of meaning to Sweden with its deep history and role. It actually has been in the exact same location since the 13th century and has been treated with great care since it is used for various official events with other countries. It can be said that the Royal Palace serves as not only a 3 residence but also as a center of the Swedish government.

In 2019, the president of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in and the first lady visited the Royal Palace. This event was to strengthen and celebrate the relations between Sweden and South Korea, which turned 60 years in 2019. The Royal Family and Korea president’s family had meetings and a dinner gala at the palace.

The history of Sweden and Korea goes way back to 1953. In 1953, the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) was established following the Armistice Agreement to monitor the relations between South and North Korea. The NNSC consisted of these four countries, Sweden and Switzerland, selected by South Korea and UNC (United Nations Command). The other two were Poland and Czechoslovakia designated by North Korea and China. These four countries had several tasks such as supervising the military personnel, military weapons and vehicles. They also took care of the issues that were related to violations of the Armistice Agreement. However, even after the war ended, they didn’t end their duty right away. They kept doing what they’ve been doing and even now, Sweden’s office still remains in South Korea. Five Swedish delegates are stationed at Panmunjom, near the DMZ line.

In 1958, the Korean government requested for medical personnel to Sweden due to the catastrophic outcome from the Korean War. So the governments of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the UN Korean Reconstruction Agency have decided to operate a National Medical Center for five years in South Korea. As a result, medical services and technology were very much taken into advance and a Nursing School was established in South Korea.

The relations between South Korea and Sweden just kept growing. It was not only limited to medical areas, but also influenced music, businesses, films and games. When President Moon visited Sweden in 2019, the King and President Moon went to talk about a partnership with Ericsson, which focuses on 5G technology. Then they went on to watch e-sports between Sweden and South Korea. E-sports is pretty famous in South Korea, since they are known to be one of the best in the world.

In regards to music, the Kpop wave also hit Sweden and the young generation became attracted. Ironically, a lot of famous Kpop music is actually composed by Swedish producers. For example, songs from Girl’s Generation and Boa are some of them. They’re one of the top singers who have opened the Kpop wave to the global society. Boa was the first generation, mostly in Asia like Japan and Girl’s Generation started to hit America and Europe before Psy threw a bomb globally. In the area of film, Sweden actually hosts an annual film festival in South Korea. This is in order to get to know each other’s culture better. In 2018, the festival commemorated the 100 years of the birth of a great film director, Ingmar Bergman and it was seen by 10,000 people in South Korea.

Korean traditional food has also become somewhat trendy among the young Swedes and now can find many Korean restaurants in Stockholm. According to the official Swedish ambassador to Korea, Jakob Hallgren, not only the restaurants, but also just by going to the nearest supermarkets nowadays, kimchi, a traditional Korean food, can be easily spotted and is enjoyed by the local people.

Due to the long history between the two countries, South Korea and Sweden, they have a lot of joint collateral areas ongoing even to this day. From a long history to the current trend and culture, the relationship between Sweden and Korea is strong and will remain firm.


K-UNIV Reporter

Yewon Shim