Norway in Brief
Major cities: Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger
Official language: Norwegian
Population: About 5.3 million
Religion: Mostly Evangelical Lutheran
Area: 125,020 square miles (323,802 square kilometers)
Number of Korean expats: About 1,120 (2015)
Friendship, starting with hospitals
Diplomatic relations between Norway and Korea were officially established in 1959. The friendship dates further back during the 1950-53 Korean War, when Norway built field hospitals to aid South Korean soldiers. Bilateral relations have continued to grow, especially within the economic sector. The two countries’ like-minded views on a number of important issues further strengthen that bond.
Two shipping powers
Total trade value between Norway and Korea was 41.8 billion Norwegian kroner ($5.03 billion) in 2015. The most important trading products between the two countries lie in the sectors of shipbuilding, offshore platform construction, seafood, electronic devices and equipment, as well as mechanical machinery. Korea is Norway’s second biggest trading partner in Asia.
Betting on Korean success
The Norwegian State Pension Fund had invested 72 billion Norwegian kroner in Korean entities in 2015. Afterwards, the Fund invested an additional 61 billion Norwegian kroner in Korean state bonds.
Lise Grevstad, 61, is a carrier diplomat with more than 25 years of experience in the foreign service. She has more than 15 years of experience from different leadership positions at home in Oslo and abroad. She was posted to Brussels, Belgium; Lisbon, Portugal; Helsinki, Finland; Copenhagen, Denmark; and most recently, served as the Norwegian ambassador to Estonia. In Oslo, she specialized in European affairs and served as director of the Central European Section, with responsibility for the EEA/Norway Grants (Norwegian contributions to social and economic cohesion in Europe). She also headed the European Policy Section, following closely the development of the European Union and the subsequent consequences for Norway. Before becoming a diplomat, she worked in a private company as a consultant. She earned a master’s degree in political science and international relations from the University of Oslo, and studied skiing and dancing at the Norwegian University of Sport Sciences. She is currently on leave from the ministry.
Jan Ole Grevstad
Jan Ole Grevstad, 64, has been serving as the Norwegian ambassador to South Korea since November 2015. This June, he was also accredited as ambassador to Pyongyang. He is a career diplomat with 35 years of experience, from leadership positions in Oslo to postings abroad in Bonn, Germany; Singapore and Brussels. Before arriving in Seoul, he served as the ambassador in Riga, Latvia, for five years, and headed the ministry’s press office while covering the Norwegian Nobel Institute and the Royal House of Norway.
During his career, the ambassador specialized in European affairs to a large extent, serving as director of two sections in the ministry’s European Department and as counselor at the Mission to the EU. He holds a master’s degree in business and marketing from Oslo Business School.