For Europe, Korea is a comparatively unknown and seemingly obscure part of Asia, especially when compared with the peninsula's powerful neighbors of China and Japan. Yet, South Korea has become a player of growing importance in the global economic system, while the awkward and complex relationship between South and North Korea ensures that the peninsula remains one of the world's "hot-spots" of geopolitical and strategic interest. Western Europe's relations with the peninsula, however, are asymmetrical in the sense that while South Korea has become one of the more important of its Asian partners, North Korea has remained little known and barely connected. For two decades after the end of the Korean War, contacts between Europe and North Korea were almost non-existent, although two West European states, Sweden and Switzerland, and two East European ones, Poland and Czechoslovakia, were appointed to the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, which monitored the Korean War armistice agreement. North Korea did succeed in establishing diplomatic relations with a few "neutral" West European states in the 1970s, as part of its limited opening in search of sources of foriegn machinery and technology, but links remained extremely low-key with most of Western Europe.