Embassy of India
Brief on India - ROK Bilateral Relations
1. India Republic of Korea (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. Bilateral consular relations were established 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.
2. 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].
3. 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.
4. The rationale for a close relationship between India and RoK has been reinforced in modern times by political and economic imperatives. The 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
5. 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.
6. The State Visit to RoK by President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, in February 2006 heralded a new vibrant phase in India-RoK relations. It inter alia 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.
7. 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. India ROK CEPA was operationalized on 1st January 2010. A slew of important agreements were concluded during the visit. It was followed by President Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil's State Visit to RoK from 24-27 July 2011 when the Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation Agreement was signed.Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh paid an official visit to Seoul from 24-27 March 2012 for both bilateral and Nuclear Security Summits, which led to the deepening of the bilateral Strategic Partnership. 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 Singh's visit.
8. Traditionally close bilateral relations were elevated to a qualitative higher level, with the state visit to India of President Park Geun-hye from 15-18 January 2014. In the ‘Joint Statement for Expansion of Strategic Partnership’ she and the Prime Minister of India, unveiled a blue print for further expanding the political, security, defence, economic, scientific & technological, IT, cultural and people-to-people relations. Outcomes included establishing regular dialogue between the national security structures of both countries, agreement to exchange classified military information (a Military Wing was established at the Embassy in Oct 2012), establish a CEO’s Forum and upgrade the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). A total of nine Memorandum of Understating (MoU), including Cooperation in Science & Technology, Outer Space and IT, were concludedduring the visit.
9. In order to boost people-to-people relations and travel between the two countries, India extended visa-on-arrival(VoA) facility for Korean tourists from April 15, 2014.As a gesture of friendship and goodwill to the Korean people, Prime Minister of India gifted a sapling of the sacred Bodhi Tree under which Lord Buddha had attained enlightenment. The sapling was handed over by the Ambassador to ROK Forest Minister Shin Won-sop, at a formal ceremony at Korea’s National Arboretum on 19 March 2014, in the presence of a number of dignitaries, including Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Secretary East Anil Wadhwa.
10. EAM paid an official visit to South Korea from 28 to 30 December 2014, and co-chaired the 8th session of India-ROK Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) with her counterpart Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se. During the visit, EAM called on President Park Geun-hye and held meetings with the Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy, the National Security Advisor and the Minister of National Defence. EAM and Korean FM comprehensively reviewed the developments in bilateral relations, with EAM inviting Korea to become an important partner in the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
11. Prime Minister NarendraModi paid a state visit to Korea during 18-19 May 2015, taking place within the first year of his government. He last visited Korea in May 2007 as Chief Minister of Gujarat. During the visit the bilateral relationship was upgraded to ‘special strategic partnership’. In the ‘Joint Statement For Special Strategic Partnership’ PM and President Park Geun-hye agreed to establish a 2+2 consultation mechanism at Secretary/Vice Minister of Foreign Office and Defence Ministry. (https://indembassy.or.kr/press_detail.php?nid=377)
12. The two sides also agreed to commence negotiations to amend CEPA by June 2016, strengthen cooperation on energy, electronics and shipbuilding industries, including setting up of a Joint Working Group for Cooperation on the Shipbuilding sector and another in the field of Electronics Hardware manufacturing.ROK offered to provide US$10 billionfinancing to India for priority projects. Recognising the importance of shipping industry in the bilateral relationship, PM also visited Shipyard of Hyundai Heavy Industries in Ulsan. PM & President Park addressed the inaugural session of India-Korea CEOs Forum to promote the bilateral economic cooperation, while PM also met the leadership of the top Korean conglomerates. Prime Minister offered to create a “Korea Plus” group to address all the issues raised by Korean companies in India. During the visit PM addressed the 6thAsian Leadership Conference, and a large gathering of local Indian community at Kyung Hee University whilealso visitingCheonggyecheon Stream, a symbol of clean Korea and urban rejuvenation. Seven agreements/MOUs were signed during the visit.
13. Bilateral relations are anchored on a strong economic foundation. CEPA in particular facilitated rapid expansion of trade volume. 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.The trade has since declined a bit to $18.06 billion(in 2014) and $17.57 billion (in 2013). Major Korean conglomerates such as Samsung, Hyundai Motors and LG have made significant investments into India, estimated at over $3 billion. Indian investments in ROK have already exceeded $2 billion. There are officially 603 large and small Korean firms, which have offices in India. Novelis, a Hindalco subsidiary, acquired a Korean aluminium company by investing about $600 million (Their total investment in ROK is nearing the $2 billion now). Mahindra & Mahindra acquired a majority stake in SsangYong Motors, the country's 4thlargest auto manufacturer, in March 2011, with an investment of about $360 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, State Bank of India etc.
14. 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 from the Korean side. So far, eight meetings of the Joint Commission have been held, the last being on 29 December 2014 in Seoul. The fourth India-ROK Foreign Policy and Security Dialogue (FPSD) at Secretary (Vice-Ministerial) level was held in Seoul on 29th August2014.This was followed up by FOC between JS (EA) and his Korean counterpart on 24 October in Seoul, preparatory to JCM.
15. In recent years pointed efforts are being made to scale up bilateral security and Defence ties. National Security Advisor (NSA) Mr. Shivshankar Menon paid a visit to Seoul from 30 June-2 July 2013 as Prime Minister’s special envoy. He called on President Park Geun-hye and met with Defence Minister and the National Security Advisor. It was a first bilateral visit by an Indian NSA to RoK. Korean Deputy NSA Kim Kyou-hyun visited India in March 2015and held discussion with our Deputy NSA.
16. Earlier Defence Minister Shri A.K. Anthony visited RoK in September 2010. MoUs on Defence Cooperation, as well as, between Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) of India and Defence Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA) of RoK for cooperation in R&D were signed. A Defence 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. An 18-member team led by the Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister & Chief of DRDO participated in the Seoul International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition from 29 October to 3 November 2013, which was DRDO’s biggest ever overseas outreach initiative. A five member delegation led by Secretary (Defence Production) from the Ministry of Defence visited RoK for the 5th JCM with DAPA from 17-18 November 2014.
17. Defence Minister (RM) Mr. ManoharParrikar,accompanied by Defence Secretary, senior Indian military and civilian officials and an Indian Defence industry delegation,paid a 3-day visit to ROK from 16 April 2015and co-chaired the India-Republic of Korea Defence Ministerial meeting with his Korean counterpart Gen Han Min-Koo. They held extensive discussions on the entire gamut of bilateral defence relationship, regional and global issues of mutual interest and identified ways to upgrade the defence relationship. RM also met with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Choi Yun-hee, Minister Chang Myoung-Jin of the Korean Defence Acquisition Program Administration and National Security Advisor Kim Kwan-Jin.
18. To further enhance cultural exchanges between Indian and Korea, an Indian Cultural Centre (ICC) was established in RoK in April 2011(http://indoculture.org/). An inaugural Festival of India in Korea was held from June 2011 to March 2012 with a visit by Dr. Karan Singh, President of ICCR, for the inauguration. A bust of Rabindranath Tagore was unveiled in Seoul by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha Smt. Meira Kumar in May 2011. 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. A new Indian Cultural Centre was opened in Busan in December 2013(http://www.iccbs.or.kr/intro.php). A bust of Mahatma Gandhi, presented by ICCR, was unveiled at the picturesque Hongbeop-sa temple in Busan on 21 July 2014 by the Mayor of Busan Metropolitan government along with Chairman of Hannarae Foundation of Culture Ven Shim San, Ambassador of India Vishnu Prakash and Director General, ICCR Satish C. Mehta.
19. Good air connectivity between the two countries has been established with Air India, Asiana Airlines and Korean Air operating flights. In 2014, total 52,052 visas were issued by the Mission as compared to 70,713 visas in 2013 and 79,028 in 2012. This is mostly attributable to the issuance of large number of long-term multiple entry visas. The actual number of travellers between the two countries appears to have gone up as a result.
20. Indian Community in RoK is estimated at 10,500, which includes businessmen, IT professionals, scientists, research fellows, students and workers. There are about 150 businessmen dealing mainly in textiles and gems and jewellery.Prominent associations of expatriate Indians in ROK include the Annapurna Indian Women's Association (AIWA), Indians in Korea (IIK) - comprising mostly of professionals, Indian Student Association in Korea and Indian Merchants' Association (IMA). The Associations function under the aegis of the Mission and undertake various cultural as well as social activities every year including organizing Holi and Diwali functions which provide the community an opportunity to socialize with other members and stay in touch with Indian culture. They also play an important role in promoting India-Korea relations.
21. 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 2,500 Koreans including 1,500 school children are studying English, IT and Management in India. Around 1,000 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: