Finland in briefHilkka Heimonen
Hilkka Heimonen was born in Oulu, in the northern part of Finland. Before accompanying her husband abroad, she was a preschool teacher. She continued her teaching career even overseas, in Finnish schools in Geneva and Berlin. She also was executive director of the Finnish Sauna Society and secretary general of the International Sauna Association. Currently in Seoul, she’s the president of the Nordic Club Seoul, an association for the Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Finnish expat communities. At the Finnish Embassy, she manages the ambassador’s residence.
Finnish ambassador to Korea
Born in Seinajoki in 1957, Matti Heimonen graduated with a Master’s degree in arts from Oulu University. Before his post as ambassador to Seoul, which began in 2012, he served as consul general in Shanghai (2008-2012), coordinator of export promotion and internationalization for the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2004-2008) and deputy head of mission at the Finnish Embassy in Tokyo (2001-2004). He was also posted in Berlin, Bonn in Germany, Geneva, and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. He has two daughters with his wife.
Finland in brief
Major cities: Espoo, Tampere, Vantaa, Oulu, Turku
Official language: Finnish, Swedish
Population: 5.5 million
Religion: Evangelical Lutheranism, Eastern Orthodoxy
Area: 130,596 square miles
Number of Korean expats: 347 (2012)
Finland recognized the Republic of Korea in April 1973 and diplomatic relations were established approximately four months later in August 1973 with an exchange of notes. At the time, Korea had already established a trade mission in Helsinki in April 1972 with the purpose of promoting trade between the two countries.
Last year, exports from Finland to Korea amounted to 859 million euros ($958 million). Imports from Korea to Finland were approximately 481 million euros. Finland is Korea’s 17th-largest trading partner in terms of exports, and 23rd in terms of imports. However, to Finland, Korea is the third most important trading partner in Asia. The main exports are machinery, metal and chemical industry products, as well as wood and paper products. Imports from Korea are mainly electronics, cars, machinery and plastic products.
Direct investments from Finland in Korea amounted to 121 million euros in 2013. Korean investments to Finland were rather low, but they are continuously increasing due to Finland’s good reputation in the telecommunications industry.