( 915 words)
In the fight against COVID-19, India has always come to the aid of many nations across the world. It has supplied COVID-19 vaccines to more than 90 countries. India’s friends and strategic global partners are also reaching out to strengthen and unite in the nation’s fight against COVID-19.
India has received a consignment of medical equipment carrying 200 oxygen concentrators from South Korea. Official Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, Arindam Bagchi has stated in a tweet, “Cooperation with the Republic of Korea continues. Consignment of medical equipment including 200 oxygen concentrators arrives. Appreciate this support from our partner.”
On 9 May 2021, the first consignment from South Korea including 30 oxygen concentrators and 200 oxygen cylinders with regulators arrived in India. India has appreciated the support from its special strategic partner, the Republic of Korea.
Strengthening Bilateral Defence Partnership
The defence and security engagements between India and the Republic of Korea have grown tremendously over the last few years. New domains of bilateral defence cooperation and avenues to strengthen the long-standing bilateral defence partnership have been explored through the latest talks.
Recently, Minister of National Defence of the Republic of Korea, Suh Wook arrived in India on a 3-day visit from March 25-27, 2021. During the visit, he held a bilateral meeting with Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh in New Delhi. The Ministers conversed about India–Republic of Korea defence cooperation along with other regional and international issues of mutual interest.
The Ministers also discussed about the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on defence and security engagements. During the ongoing pandemic, when travel and physical engagements became increasingly challenging, the momentum of bilateral defence engagements was kept up through commitment exhibited by diverse agencies of both countries to sustain structured annual dialogues at various levels of leadership in a virtual format.
India-Korea Friendship Park
In March 2021, Rajnath Singh and Suh Wook jointly inaugurated the India-Korea Friendship Park in a ceremony held at Delhi Cantonment. The park signifies close relations between both countries and acknowledges the contribution of the Indian Army’s Medical Mission during the Korean War. The distinguished guests from the Korean War Veterans Association also attended the inauguration ceremony.
India-Korea’s shared History – Princess from Ayodhya married Korean King
According to “The Heritage History of the Three Kingdoms” written in the 13th century, a Princess from Ayodhya named Suriratna came to Korea, married Korean King Kim-Suro and became Queen Hur Hwang-ok in the year 48 AD. Korean Buddhist Monk Hyecho visited India from 723 to 729 AD and wrote a travelogue named “Pilgrimage to the five kingdoms of India”. The travelogue gives a vivid account of Indian culture, politics & society and was also rediscovered in China in 1908. In 1929, Rabindranath Tagore composed an evocative poem – ‘Lamp of the East’ about Korea’s glorious past and its promising bright future.
India’s significant role in Korean Affairs
After Korea’s independence in 1945, K P S Menon of India was the Chairman of the 9-member UN Commission set up in 1947 to hold elections in Korea. During the Korean War (1950- 53), both the warring sides accepted a resolution sponsored by India. Lt. General K.S. Thimayya of India helped in resolving the humanitarian issues arising out of the Korean War.
On 26 January 2010, Korea’s President Lee paid a visit to India as Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations. In the year 2016, PM Modi and President Park had bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit and discussed the progress made in the bilateral relations. Besides, the Republic of Korea was the sole country to participate in the Maritime India Summit 2016 held in Mumbai.
The relationship between the countries grew exponentially following the inauguration of President Moon Jae-in’s administration. PM Modi was the 4th international leader to congratulate President Moon on his election victory. Moreover, PM Modi’s congratulatory tweet in the Korean language was also appreciated by President Moon, the Korean media and the common people.
South Korea, a natural partner in India’s growth journey
In the year 2019, PM Modi launched the India-Korea Startup Hub and introduced the flagship program Start-up India with a 1.4 billion Dollars fund for four years. PM also mentioned that India is among the top 10 trade partners of Korea and is the 6th largest export destination for Korean goods. Korea’s main export items are automobile parts, telecommunication equipment, hot rolled iron products, petroleum refined products, base lubricating oils, nuclear reactors, mechanical appliances, electrical machinery & parts and iron and steel products.
In 2016, India and South Korea also launched an initiative ‘Korea Plus’, to promote and facilitate Korean Investments in India. At present, over 600 Korean companies have invested in India.
Scholarships to Korean nationals
The Indian government offers scholarships and fellowships to Korean nationals for various programmes and disciplines covering research work and non-formal courses. The Republic of Korea’s government also offers scholarships to Indian nationals for studying Korean Language, Literature at Masters and PhD level.
12,000 Indians reside in the Republic of Korea
The total number of Indian nationals living in the Republic of Korea is estimated to be around 12,000. A large number of Indian scholars pursue post-graduate and PhD programmes in the Republic of Korea. A significant number of students and academicians are studying in Korean universities and many professionals mainly in the areas of IT, shipping and automobile have immigrated to the Republic of Korea.