Italy in briefMaria Giovanna Fadiga Mercuri
Born in Bologna, Maria Giovanna Fadiga Mercuri is an expert in humanistic philology from 1350 to 1500 and has been appointed as a national editor by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism. She is responsible for identifying and restoring nationally historic documents. She has taught at various universities promoting Italian culture in many ways, with the most recent case being at Sookmyung Women’s University in Yongsan District, central Seoul. Since 1987, she has accompanied her husband to many different countries, including Korea, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium and the United States.
Italian Ambassador to Korea
Born in Naples in 1959, Sergio Mercuri graduated from the University of Bologna, where he met his wife, and entered the diplomatic service in 1984. After his first assignment in Korea, he served as consul in the United Kingdom and then in Germany. He served as the permanent representation to the EU in Brussels, and went on to work at the Italian Embassy in Washington. After serving as the special envoy of the Italian minister of foreign affairs for Afghanistan, Mercuri has been the Italian ambassador to Korea since 2010.
Italy in brief
Major cities: Milan, Naples, Turin, Venice
Official language: Italian
Population: 61 million
Religion: Catholic (88 percent)
Area: 116,347 square miles
Number of Korean expats: 4,100 (2014)
130 years of friendship
Italy was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with Korea. Official relations go back more than a century, to 1884, when the two countries signed the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation. Last year, the Italian Embassy in Seoul celebrated the 130th anniversary of this treaty by organizing numerous events, such as an exhibition called “Machiavelli, Renaissance Man.”
The trade relationship between Italy and Korea encompasses fashion, food, cars and tourism. The trade turnover is growing steadily, and in 2014 it reached $9.6 billion, more than 14 percent higher year-on-year. Korea exported to Italy goods and services worth $3.4 billion, with the top product being vehicles. Korea imported from Italy $6.2 billion worth of goods, mainly machinery. The FTA between the EU and Korea, which entered into force in 2011, has proven very good for trade flows.
By comparison, there is still room for growth in mutual investment. However, in 2014 two important investment operations worth 150 million euros ($166 million) were realized by Korean groups in Italy.