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 27 August, 2013 | 07:49 IST
 27 August, 2013 | 11:19 KST
India - RoK Bilateral

India - Republic of Korea (RoK) Bilateral Relations

India-RoK relations have made great strides in recent years and have become truly multidimensional, spurred by a significant convergence of interests, mutual goodwill and high level exchanges. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh paid an official visit to Seoul from 24-27 March 2012, both for bilateral and Nuclear Security Summits, which led to the deepening of bilateral strategic partnership that was forged during  President Lee Myung-bak’s State visit to India. An agreement on visa simplification was signed on 25 March 2012 in the presence of the two leaders at the Blue House. A Joint Statement was also issued during PM's visit. PM had last visited Seoul from November 10-12, 2010 for the G20 Summit.

2. Earlier President Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil came on a State Visit to RoK from 24-27 July 2011 during which the Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation Agreement was signed. President Lee paid a landmark visit to India, as Chief Guest at India's Republic Day celebrations on 26 January 2010, when bilateral ties were raised to the level of Strategic Partnership. His visit preceded an equally successful State Visit to RoK by President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, in February 2006 that heralded a new vibrant phase in India-RoK relations. It interalia led to the launch of a Joint Task Force to conclude a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which was signed by Minister for Commerce and Industry Shri Anand Sharma at Seoul on August 7, 2009. 

3. CEPA came into force on 1st January, 2010. Rapidly expanding trade and investment flows lie at the core of the bilateral cooperation. Bilateral trade in 2011 crossed $ 20.5 billion registering a 70% growth over a two year period. A revised trade target of $ 40 billion by 2015 was established by PM. Singh and President Lee on 25 March 2012. 

4. Historical and cultural contacts between the two peoples date back to ancient times. According to "SamgukYusa" or "The Heritage History of the Three Kingdoms" written in the 13th century, a Princess from Ayodhya (Suriratna) came to Korea, married King Kim-Suro, and became Queen Hur Hwang-ok in the year 48 AD [wife of former President Lee Myung-bak (Mrs. Kim Yoon-ok), former President Kim Dae-jung, former President Kim Young-sam and former PM Kim Jong-pil, inter alia, trace their ancestry to the royal couple].

5.       Korean Buddhist Monk Hyecho (혜초, 704–787 CE) or Hong Jiao visited India from 723 to 729 AD. His travelogue "Pilgrimage to the five kingdoms of India” gives a vivid account of Indian culture, politics & society, including food habits, languages & climate. The travelogue was lost for many years until a fragment of it was rediscovered by Paul Pelliot in China in 1908 and was subsequently translated into different languages, including Hindi, under the aegis of UNESCO. The original fragment is now owned by the National Library of France. The enduring philosophy of the Buddha, which has influenced the lives and thoughts of the people of the two countries, also provides a strong link. 

6. The rationale for a close relationship between India and RoK has been reinforced in modern times by political and economic imperatives. Experience of colonial rule and the anti-colonial movements in both countries, revived interest in each other. Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore composed a short but evocative poem – 'Lamp of the East' - in 1929 about Korea's glorious past and its promising bright future. He wrote: 

"In the golden age of Asia 

Korea was one of its lamp bearers, 

And that lamp is waiting to be lit once again 

For the illumination of the East." 

7. India played an important and positive role in Korean affairs after Korea's independence in 1945. Mr K P S Menon of India was the Chairman of the 9-member UN Commission set up in 1947 to hold elections in Korea. The successful general elections held for the first time in the South in 1948, led to the establishment of the Republic of Korea on 15th August 1948. During the Korean War (1950-53), both the warring sides accepted a resolution sponsored by India, and the ceasefire was declared on 27 July 1953. The 60th Indian Parachute Field Ambulance Unit (medical mission) led by Lt. Col. A G Rangaraj gave a good account of itself during the Korean conflict. 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 issues arising out of the War, which won appreciation from all quarters. A delegation of Indian Parliamentarians visited ROK on 26-27 July 2013 to participate in the events to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement.

8.       Marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations, the National Security Advisor (NSA) Shri. Shivshankar Menon visited Seoul from 30 June-2 July 2013 as the Prime Minister’s special envoy. He called on President Park Geun-hye and met with Defense Minister and the National Security Advisor. It was a first bilateral visit by an Indian NSA to RoK. A team of Korean Parliamentarians led by Mr Jeong Kab yoon, Chairman of India-Korea Parliamentary Friendship Association visited India in July 2013.

9. India and RoK established consular relations in 1962. In 1973, relations were upgraded to Ambassador-level (also with Pyongyang). In the post-cold war era, South Korean popular quest for democracy, which was introduced in 1987, created a natural affinity between the countries. In course of time, RoK's open market policies found resonance with India's economic liberalization and 'Look East Policy'. Consistent Indian support for peaceful reunification of the two Koreas has been well received in this country. 

10. Major Korean conglomerates (Chaebols) such as Samsung, Hyundai Motors and LG have made significant investments into India, estimated at $2.6 billion, till September 2012. Indian investments in ROK have already exceeded $ 1 billion. Novelis, a Hindalco subsidiary, acquired a Korean aluminum company by investing about $ 600 million. Mahindra & Mahindra acquired a majority stake in SsangYong Motors, the country's 4th largest auto manufacturer, in March 2011, with an investment of about $470 million. Tata Motors acquired Daewoo Commercial Vehicle Company for $ 102 million in March 2004. Other Indian companies present in India include IT majors, Indian Overseas Bank etc. 

11. India-RoK Joint Commission for bilateral cooperation was established in February 1996, which is chaired by the External Affairs Minister (EAM) and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade from the Korean side. So far, six meetings of the Joint Commission have been held, the last one in June 2010 in Seoul. The two countries have also established a Foreign Policy and Security Dialogue (FPSD) at Secretary (Vice-Ministerial) level, which last met at New Delhi on 28 June 2012. 

12. Defense Minister Shri A.K. Anthony visited RoK in September 2010. MoUs on Defense Cooperation, as well as, between Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) of India and Defense Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA) of RoK for cooperation in R&D were signed. A Defense Wing was established in the Embassy of India, in October 2012. Korean Minister of Defense Mr. Kim, Kwan-jin visited India from 28 Nov to 1 Dec 2012, following that of his predecessor Mr. Kim Jung-soo in May 2007. The Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC), Air Chief Marshall N.A.K Browne visited RoK with a Tri-Service delegation from 8 to11 July 2013. 

13. An Indian Cultural Centre (ICC) was established in RoK in April 2011. An inaugural Festival of India in Korea was held from June 2011 to March 2012. President of ICCR, Dr. Karan Singh visited Korea for the inauguration. A bust of Tagore was unveiled in Seoul in May 2011 by Speaker of the Lok Sabha Smt. Meira Kumar. Special Programmes have been arranged by ICC to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Korea. Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) has deputed Indian Yoga and Kathak-cum-Contemporary dance instructors, who hold classes regularly at ICC. Hindi, Odissi, Tabla and Bharathanatyam classes have also been added with local teachers given the ever increasing interest in Indian culture. Catering to popular demand ICC also organizes monthly movie shows and cooking classes. Lectures, Exhibitions and performances are arranged periodically by ICC, which have been evoking excellent response, across RoK.

14. Good air connectivity between the two countries has been established with Air India, Asiana Airlines and Korean Air operating flights. Close to 100,000 Korean nationals visited India in 2010. Over 81,000 and 79,000 visas were issued in 2011and 2012 respectively by the Mission. 

15. Indian Community in RoK is estimated at 7500, which includes businessmen, IT professionals, scientists, research fellows, students and workers. There are about 150 businessmen dealing mainly in textiles and gems and jewellery. 

16. Educational, Media and People to people ties: India and Korea attach great importance to education and Human Resource Development. This sector is emerging as one of the thrust areas of cooperation. Presently, around 2500 Koreans including 1500 school children are studying English, IT and Management in India. Around 1200 Indian scholars are pursuing post-graduate and Ph. D programmes, mostly in pure sciences in Korea. A number of Indian teachers / professors are now working in different Korean educational institutions and universities in ROK. Many of our educational institutions and think tanks have established institutional cooperation agreements which include: 

• FSI and Korea National Diplomatic Academy (KNDA) signed a MoU of Cooperation in March 2012 during the visit of Prime Minister of India to Seoul. For the first time ever, ten IFS probationers from the 2011 batch visited RoK in July 2012 and had an interaction with KNDA, as well as, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade during their familiarization tour. 

• Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Delhi University (DU) offer programmes in Korea Studies and Korean Language Courses respectively. Madras University has also opened a Department of Korean Studies encouraged by the sizeable presence of Koreans including Hyundai Motors in Tamil Nadu. Recently Central University of Jharkhand (CUJ) started offering five-year integrated postgraduate degrees in Korean language. Manipur University and Madras Christian College are offering Diploma courses in Korean Language.

• JNU has signed MoUs of cooperation with several universities in Korea including Yonsei University, Korea University, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and Pusan University of Foreign Studies. Delhi University also has an understanding with Korea University.

• Two South Korean Universities viz. Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, and Pusan University of Foreign Studies in Busan have Indian Studies Departments. In 2012 South Korea’s Premier Seoul National University established a New Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations wherein they are offering a major on Indian Studies. Various other Universities in Korea offer degree courses in Indian Philosophy, Yoga and Ayurveda.

 • Seoul Forum for International Affairs (SFIA) and Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) have been jointly organizing the India-Korea Dialogue that makes recommendations on policies and practical measures to strengthen the bilateral partnership to the two governments. The 10th Dialogue was held in Chennai in November 2011 and 11th in Seoul in October 2012. 

• Korean Advanced Institute for Science and Technology (KAIST) signed MoUs with IIM, ISB and IIT. IIM, Bangalore has been sending its students to KAIST on study tour since 2010, including for Executive Development Programmes. A large group of MBA students from IIM (B) came to KAIST for a 2 week orientation in August 2012, and were also addressed by Ambassador.

• 'India Fortune' has been organizing 'India Advanced Management Programme' for MPs, senior Korean officials, and CEOs covering Indian economy, corporate environment and Indian culture. The participants are always taken to India on a familiarization tour. This is a private business promotion initiative by a Korean scholar Dr. Oh Hwaseok. The 2011 edition of the Programme had 40 participants. The 2012 edition beginning on 23rd August also had a similar number of Korean officials, CEOs and executives, and the programme concluded in December 2012. 

• Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussorie has established an institutional partnership with Korea Development Institute (KDI) School of Public Policy & Management. Since 2010, eight batches of IAS officers have come to Korea for a two week study tour as part of their mid-career or advanced training. The last group of IAS officers visited RoK in May 2013.

• Exchange of youth delegations between India and RoK has been taking place on an annual basis for several years now. The nodal Ministries on the two sides are: Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, India and the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, RoK. 

• A MoU between ICCR and Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS) was signed in August 2009 to establish an Indian Chair on Indian Economics in HUFS. ICCR has since then been deputing a visiting Indian professor as the Chair in Contemporary Indian Studies. 

• Government of India offers scholarships and fellowships to meritorious Korean nationals every year to study in India in recognized Indian universities/educational institutions. These ICCR scholarships are available for various programmes and disciplines covering research work and non-formal courses (Religion, Classical Music, Dance and Crafts).http://www.iccrindia.org/scholarships/terms.htm 

• Ayush Scholarship Scheme facilitates courses in Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Yoga and Homeopathy, while many Korean students are also learning Hindi language at the Kendriya Hindi Sansthan, Agra. (www.hindisansthan.org &http://www.indianmedicine.nic.in/index2.asp?slid=622&sublinkid=220&lang=1

• ROK Government Scholarship: RoK Government also offers scholarships to Indian nationals each year to study Korean Language and Literature at Masters and PhD level at select Korean Universities. Notification is normally issued on the website of the Ministry of HRD around the month of February. http://proposal.sakshat.ac.in/scholarship/ 

• Under a MoU signed in July 2011, journalists and media representatives have been undertaking reciprocal visits to each other’s country.  A batch of Indian journalists came to RoK in November 2012, following the visit to India by a group of Korean journalists earlier in September

·                    A tourism ‘ROAD SHOW’ was held in Seoul in February 2013 during the visit of a Ministry of Tourism delegation led by Secretary Mr. Parvez Dewan. Close to 90 travel agents and media representatives participated in the event. Over 110,000 Korean tourists traveled to India in 2012 making them one of the top 15 nationalities visiting India.

·                    India was ‘guest of honour’ country for the first time at the Seoul International Book Fair (SIBF) from 19-23 June 2013, which facilitated tie-ups between the Indian and Korean publishers. Led by the National Book Trust, 26 Indian publishers displayed a wide range of books. 10 books for children were specially translated into Korean.

17.     Currently both countries are celebrating the 40th anniversary of establishment of Diplomatic Relations, with a series of commemorative events. The Embassy and ICC have already held Film Festivals in Busan and Seoul in April and May 2013 respectively, a Food Festival in Seoul in May & a number of other events. For the first time ever India Day was held at the Seoul National University on 7 June 2013.

August 2013