History of relations and trade between Finland and Republic of Korea
A guidebook for trade “Korea – Subcontinent of Opportunities”, published in1990 by University of Helsinki has numerous of articles by different persons, including Tero Kuulusa, product manager of company KWH-Pipe. Although targeted mainly for businessmen, the book also serves as an overlook of then-short history of relations between Finland and the R.O.K. The history between the two countries was quite new, as well as the democratization in the R.O.K, creating totally new kind of situation for Finnish
The book acknowledges the short history of relations; article, written by professor of the University of Helsinki Song Moo Kho, reminds that even though the R.O.K established its embassy in Helsinki in 1973, Finland established its own to Seoul thirteen years later whilst Finnish ambassador in Tokyo had only a secondary accreditation. Song also highlights the disinformation; Finnish media received majority of its information about the R.O.K from Lennart Utterström, Finnish correspondent situated in Tokyo whilst relations between Japan and both Koreas were significantly hostile. Song also notices the relevance of the diplomatic war between North and South to the Finnish context; both were enthusiastic about creating new friendly diplomatic as well as commercial relationships, leading to situation in which North e.g. ordered sophisticated paper manufacturing facilities, although Finnish partners were soon to realize the incompetence of North, making odds better for South. Commercial secretary of Tokyo embassy in Seoul, Heikki Latvanen was assigned in 1977 to improve the task, and by late 1970s several Finnish companies outsourced their subcontracting to companies in the R.O.K. Not only Song, but also other writers recognize the urge for vital contacts, both normal and business life, and Song highlights the importance advocate for Finnish companies if they are to success in the future in R.O.K as well as need for more unbiased information in Finnish media.
Kuulusa organized a symposium with Finnish Foreign Trade Union in Seoul in 1984 for marketing the district heating system for R.O.K, which was in urge of replacing its obsolete system. He noticed that Koreans had hospitality towards foreigners, but also mentions the significance of good relations and “cutting bureaucratic corners” would be necessary if administrational paperwork could delay progress. Seppo Kallio, CEO of Karhu Titan, mentions the basic nature of Koreans to be “inflexible”, indicating the culture of “losing one’s face” if admitting an error. Kallios knowledge about relatively short history of labor unions in the R.O.K indicates need to explain to the reader about system quite different compared to Finland, but also to remind the reader about different working conditions prone to strike to explain about conditions different than used to.
Even though book is quite dated by now (e.g. Soviet Union does no longer exist, the R.O.K is now a global player and relations between Finland and the R.O.K have gone forward), it is not only an evidence about relatively new field of cooperation between two nations, and some things prevail; inflexibility whilst negotiating as well as importance of good relations are well known fact.