Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Korea and India's 40th year of diplomatic ties part 1.

This year both India and Korea marked as 40th anniversary in their relationship. India's cultural ties go back two millennia to the visit of Indian Princess Suriratna from Ayodhya who went to Korea in A.D. 48, married King Kim Suro and became Queen Heo Hwang-ok. Some 5 million Kims, including the wife of ex President Lee Myung-bak, in this country of 50 million, trace their ancestry to the royal couple.
There are striking cultural similarities between our countries and societies including filial piety, role and stature of the eldest male member of family, respect for age, and an emphasis on education. In the North East region of India is considered as the epicentre of Korean cultural wave called "Hallyu" in India.
India-South Korea relations date back many centuries to the time when the princess of Ayodhya married Kim Suro, the King of Gaya. Their descendants are still known to visit Ayodhya every year to pay homage to their ancestral maternal roots.
Buddhism, which originated in India, reached Korea through China and remains a dominant religion on the Peninsula. Currently, the most prominent links are going through numerous academic exchanges between India and South Korea as well as from bothe the government side also.
The Korean Foundation provides scholarships to Indian students who wish to study the sciences and humanities in South Korea. Also, Korean language courses are taught at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University and The English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), Hyderabad.
In addition to these cultural and social exchanges, strides have also been made in economic, trade and diplomatic ties. This article will look at the developments in Indo-South Korean linkages that have developed thus far, and their future potential.Pre Modern Relationship: South Korea and India, though geographically far apart, have shared close historic and emotional bonds. In a poem written when Korea was under Japanese colonial rule, Rabindranath Tagore referred to South Korea as the "lamp of the East."

Historian are viewed that this cordial relationship between the two countries extends back to 48AD, when Queen Suro, or Princess Heo Hwang-ok, traveled from the kingdom of Ayodhya in North India to Korea. According to the Samguk Yusa, the princess had a dream about a heavenly king who was awaiting heaven's anointed ride. After Princess Heo had the dream, she asked her parents, the king and queen, for permission to set out and seek the man, which the king and queen urged with the belief that god orchestrated the whole fate. Upon approval, she set out on a boat, carrying gold, silver, a tea plant, and a stone which calmed the waters.

Archeologists discovered a stone with two fish kissing each other, a symbol of the Gaya kingdom that is unique to the Mishra royal family in Ayodhya, India. This royal link provides further evidence that there was an active commercial engagement between India and Korea since the queen's arrival to Korea. The city of Gimhae, where the princess landed in South Korea, now has a pact with the Ayodhya administration in Uttar Pradesh, which even donated a site there for a monument of Queen Hur-Hwang-ok.

In the ancient time Buddhism was the bedrock of relationship between the Korea and India. Buddhism was introduced to Korea in the second half of fourth century and Koguryo was the first among the three kingdoms of Korea, which received Buddhism. During the reign of Kim Sosurim (371-384), Buddhism was officially recognized in Korea. Supposedly, Buddhism reached from India to Korea via China. However, there are some speculations which try to explore the possibility that Buddhism reached to Korea directly from India.

Even if Buddhism reached Korea directly from India before its official route via China, more or less it was in a dormant form and there is hardly any evidence that it got any reference in the Korean cultural and social life. Without going into the debate of source of Korean Buddhism, it is safe to say that spread of Buddhism in Korea during the era of three kingdoms led to increase in interactions of two countries afterwards.
Global interest  as well as in India also Korean culture is beginning to embrace more traditional aspects as we already experience the technological products of Korea. With the popularity of Korean Company like LG, Samsung , Hundai, Lotte and now the soft sleek Galaxy series reigning , there is a growing demand for Korean culture now in India .
More to come up in the next write up of this series as here in India the government is trying also trying to do something special in relation of the 40th anniversary of India Korea relation. And I am also making a small documentary on the North East region of India and the korean cultural impact.

1 comment:

Jagadish said...

Thank you .. good blog, Great to see that India and Korea are related from 48AD.

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