South Korean First Lady visits ancient city Ayodhya for revival of traditional links with India

South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s wife current trip to India is to revive an ancient link between the two countries. The link connects holy city of Ayodhya, birthplace of Lord Ram, with South Korea. The First Lady Kim Jung-sook will be the chief guest of the Uttar Pradesh government during Deepotsva (lighting of lamps) celebrations in the religious city of Ayodhya.

First Lady of South Korea Kim Jung-sook along with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during her visit to India. Photo courtesy: Twitter@MEAIndia
First Lady of South Korea Kim Jung-sook along with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during her visit to India. Photo courtesy: Twitter@MEAIndia

According to legend, a young Indian princess Suriratna from Ayodhya, later to be known as Heo Hwang-ok,went to Korea in 48 AD, some 2,000 years ago, and married the king to become the first queen of the Karak dynasty.

Some Chinese-language texts claim that the then King of Ayodhya had a dream where God ordered him to send his 16-year-old daughter to South Korea to marry King Kim Suro.

The young Indian princess Suriratna from Ayodhya, later to be known as Heo Hwang-ok, went to Korea in 48 AD, some 2,000 years ago, and married the king to become  the first queen of the Karak dynasty. Photo courtesy: Twitter
The young Indian princess Suriratna from Ayodhya, later to be known as Heo Hwang-ok, went to Korea in 48 AD, some 2,000 years ago, and married the king to become the first queen of the Karak dynasty. Photo courtesy: Twitter

The royal couple prospered. They had 10 sons and both were fabled to have lived to be over 150 years old. Many South Koreans believe they can trace their ancestry to Ayodhya owing to his connection.  

In 2001, Ayodhya and Gimhae, in South Gyeongsang province of South Korea, became sister cities.

Meanwhile, the current visit of First Lady Kim Jung-sook is creating ripples in India and there has been a new bonhomie between the relations of both the countries.

She met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi yesterday. During the meeting, the two discussed the deep “civilisational and spiritual” links between the two nations.

First Lady of South Korea Kim Jung-sook meeting Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Photo courtesy: Twitter@MEAIndia
First Lady of South Korea Kim Jung-sook meeting Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Photo courtesy: Twitter@MEAIndia

She also shared an “affectionate bonding” with India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj yesterday.

“India and ROK share a special strategic partnership since 2015 and our relations have deepened and diversified in recent years,” said Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar in a statement on Twitter.

It will be the first time when a foreign dignitary will be attending the Diwali celebrations organised by the Uttar Pradesh government to showcase Ayodhya's heritage. Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath will also grace the event.

Chief Minister of Indian State of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath presenting angvastaram to First Lady of South Korea Kim Jung-sook while Governor Ram Naik (extreme right) looks on. Photo courtesy: Twitter@CMOfficeGoUP
Chief Minister of Indian State of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath presenting angvastaram to First Lady of South Korea Kim Jung-sook while Governor Ram Naik (extreme right) looks on. Photo courtesy: Twitter@CMOfficeGoUP

The foundation laying ceremony for the INR500 million memorial of Queen Heo Hwang-ok would also be held during the celebrations.

The Ministry of External Affairs said last week that Mrs Moon's visit to Ayodhya "will showcase our close civilisational links as well as the ongoing deepening engagement between our two countries".

Author
Ashraf Jamal
Ashraf Jamal – Senior Writer

Ashraf Jamal brings a rare depth to writing equipped with a degree in journalism, a postgraduate degree in political science, and a degree in law from the Allahabad University. His experience includes editing and publishing the Northern India Patrika and writing for Times of India for almost a decade covering just about any topic under the sun including NRIs and Indian diaspora.

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