During the 1997 Asian financial crisis, Korean businesses sought to increase access to the global markets and started trade investments with India. There is a regular high-level visit from both countries. At present, there have been acknowledgments in the Korean public and political spheres that expanding relations with India should be a major political and economical priority for South Korea.
- South Korea is now the 5th source of investment in India.
- Korean companies like Samsung and LG have set-up manufacturing and service facilities in India.
- Establishment of free trade and Expansion of trade agreement to encourage further investment b/w India and South Korea.
- The two countries agreed to shift their focus to the review of the visa policies between the two countries and a pact on visa simplification was signed in 2012.
India-South Korea relation in the past
Ayodhya has a deep connection with South Korea and was discovered in 2000-01. A princess from Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Ram, had become a queen of South Korea and begun ruling a dynasty there some 2,000 years ago. The ancestry is known as the Karak dynasty in the history of South Korea. The name of the Ayodhya princess was Heo Hwang-ok and her real Indian name was supposed to have been Suriratna. Queen Huh Hwang-ok (also spelled as Heo Hwang-ok), married to the ruling ancestry founder Kim Suro, was born in Ayodhya. As per the Korean legends, Ayodhya princess Suriratna shifted to South Korea when she was 16. She was sent to Korea by her father who was the king of Ayodhya, received a divine command in his dream to do so. Suriratna undertook the voyage accompanied by her brother, a prince of Ayodhya. This incident, a Korean researcher claimed to have taken place in 48 AD.
RoK-India bonds after Independence
India played a vital role in Korean affairs after its independence in 1945. Mr. K P S Menon of India was the Chairman of the 9-member UN Commission, established in 1947 to hold elections in Korea. A Successful general election was conducted for the first time in the South in 1948, led to a set-up of the Republic of Korea on 15th August 1948. During the Korean War (1950-53), both the warring sides agreed to a resolution sponsored by India, and the ceasefire was declared on 27 July 1953. Lt. General K.S. Thimayya of India served as the chairman of the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission [NNRC], after the armistice and contributed to resolving the humanitarian matters arising out of the War, which won gratitude from all quarters.
India-RoK relation during Cold-war
India viewed the two power bloc emerge after world war-II. India was not in any bloc, but closer to the Soviet bloc while South Korea was under the influence of the western bloc led by the USA. So there was not a good relationship between the two countries. Though; dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the cold war led to a unipolar world. RoK & India focused on cultivating their relations, and since then both countries have been enjoying a good relationship. After the cold war, South Korean popular quest for democracy, which was introduced in 1987, made a natural affinity b/w the countries. Timely, RoK's open market policies found resonance with India's economic liberalization and 'Look East Policy'.
India-RoK Cultural relations
- A Festival of India in Korea was arranged from June 2011 to March 2012.
- ICC (Indian Cultural Centre) was set-up in RoK in April 2011.
- ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) has deputed Indian Yoga and Kathak instructors, who hold classes frequently.
- Performances and exhibitions are arranged occasionally by ICC, which are received very well across RoK.
- GoI offers fellowships and scholarships to meritorious Korean nationals every year to study in India in recognized Indian universities and educational institutions. These
scholarships are available for various disciplines and programmes covering research work and non-formal courses like Classical Music, Dance, Crafts, and Religion
Diaspora and people-to-people contacts
Indian Community in RoK is expected at 7500, which covers IT professionals, businessmen, scientists, students, research fellows, and workers. Around 150 businessmen are dealing
in textiles jewelry and gems. Under an MoU signed in July 2011, media representatives and journalists are undertaking reciprocal visits to each other country.
Korea and India attach great importance to Human Resource Development and Education. This sector is growing as one of the thrust regions of cooperation. About 2500 Koreans including 1500 school children are studying IT, Management, and English in India. About 900 Indian scholars are pursuing post-graduate and Ph. D programmes, generally in pure sciences in South Korea. Many Indian professors and teachers are now working in different Korean educational universities and institutions in RoK.
- Korean students are learning the Hindi language at the Kendriya Hindi Sansthan, Agra.
- RoK Govt offers scholarships to Indian nationals each year to study Korean Language and Literature at Ph.D. and Masters level at selected Korean Universities.
- Ayush Scholarship Scheme facilitates courses in Unani, Siddha, Ayurveda, Homeopathy, and Yoga
SFIA (Seoul Forum for International Affairs) and ICRIER (Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations) have been jointly organizing the India-Korea Dialogue that makes recommendations on policies and practical measures to strengthen the bilateral partnership b/w the two pacts. The 10th Dialogue was organized in Chennai in November 2011 and the 11th in Seoul in October 2012.
Nodal Ministries on the two sides
- The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, RoK
- Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, India