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Relations between India and ROK have become more intense and broad based in the recent past and are devoid of any irritants. Rapidly expanding trade and investment flows lie at the core of the bilateral cooperation. The visit of President of ROK Mr. Roh Moo-hyun in October 2004 is an important milestone in expanding our bilateral relations. It elevated relations to "Long-term Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity." The State visit to ROK by Rashtrapatiji in February, 2006 has helped India-ROK relations to enter a new vibrant phase. The visit, inter alia, resulted in the launch of a Joint Task Force to conclude a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which was signed during the visit of Minister for Commerce and Industry to ROK in August 7, 2009.
1. Background
Historical and cultural contacts between the two peoples date back to ancient times. According to “Samguk- Yusa" or "The Heritage History of the Three Kingdoms" written in the 13th century, a Princess from Ayodhya came to Korea and married King Kim-Suro and became Queen Hur Hwang-ok in the year 48 AD [former President Kim Dae-jung, former President Kim Young-sam and former Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil trace this ancestry]. The enduring philosophy of the Buddha, which has influenced the lives and thoughts of the people of the two countries, has also provided a strong link. The rationale for a close relationship between India and ROK has been reinforced in modern times by political and economic imperatives.

Colonial rule in India and Korea, and the anti-colonial movements in both countries, revived interest in each other. Noble Laureate Rabindranath Tagore composed a short but evocative poem in 1929 about Korea's glorious past and bright future. He wrote:
    "In the golden age of Asia Korea was one of its lamp bearers, And that lamp is waiting To be lighted once again For the illumination of the East."
India played an important role in Korea after the end of Japanese colonial rule in 1945. India was the Chairman of the nine-member UN Commission set up to hold elections in Korea in 1947. 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 cease-fire was declared on 27 July 1953. India contributed a medical unit, 60 Para Field Ambulances, to the UN multinational force during the war. Also, India, in its capacity as the Chairman of the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission [NNRC] contributed significantly to resolving the humanitarian issues arising out of the War, which received all round appreciation.

India and ROK established consular relations in 1962. In 1973, relations were upgraded to Ambassador-level. [At the same time, India established diplomatic relations with Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)].

In the post-cold war era, ROK's move to broad-base its political and economic relations, as well as political liberalization and democratization of its society have boosted India-ROK relations by creating a common ground with India's economic liberalization and 'Look East Policy'. Exchange of high-Ievel visits and consistent Indian support for peaceful reunification of the two Koreas has strengthened bilateral relations.

2. Bilateral visits of HOS/ HOG
From India, President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam paid a State Visit to the Republic of Korea from 06-09 February, 2006 at the invitation of the President of the Republic of Korea. This was the first ever visit by the President of India to the Republic of Korea. One of the major outcomes of the visit was the signing of a Joint Ministerial Statement on the Launching of a Joint Task Force to develop a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two countries. Two other Agreements viz. Agreement on Cooperation in the fields of Science and Technology and Agreement on Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters were also signed during the visit. An MOU on Scientific and Technological Cooperation between Department of Science and Technology, India and Korea Industrial Technology Foundation (KOTEF) was also signed separately.

Earlier Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao visited ROK in September 1993 - the first-ever visit by an Indian Prime Minister. During the visit, three agreements were signed viz., (i) Tourism Cooperation Agreement; (ii) MOU on Science and Technology; and (iii) Cultural Exchange Programme.

From the ROK, President Mr. Roh Moo-hyun paid a State Visit to India from 04-06 October 2004 at the invitation of President of India. He was accompanied by a high Ievel official delegation, apart from leading representatives of Korean business and industry. During this visit, the two countries resolved to take India-ROK relationship to a much higher level in the 21st century and decided to establish a "Long-term Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity." Regular ministerial-Ievel exchanges, including between Trade and Finance Ministers were agreed. India-ROK Foreign Policy and Security Dialogue was established to promote exchanges and interactions in the defense field including safety and security of international maritime traffic, cooperation between their navies, coast guard and related agencies. The two countries agreed to broaden and deepen economic and trade cooperation and set a target of US$ 10 billion for bilateral trade by 2008. This milestone has since been reached in November 2007. The Treaty on Extradition and the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters were signed which have since become operational.

President Kim Young-sam visited India on 24-27 February, 1996. During his visit, three documents viz., (i) Bilateral Investment Promotion/Protection Agreement [BIPA] - The agreement came into effect on 7 May, 1996, (ii) Agreement to set up Joint Commission at Foreign Ministers' level; and (iii) Cultural Exchange Programme for 1996-98 were signed.

ROK Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil visited India on 10-11 February, 1999. He inaugurated the India Engineering Trade Fair [IETF'99] in which ROK participated as a Partner Country.
3. Parliamentary Contacts
The Speaker of the Lok Sabha Shri P .A. Sangma visited Seoul in August 1997 at the invitation of the Speaker of the Korean National Assembly. A Parliamentary delegation from ROK led by Mr. Park Hee-tae, Vice Speaker of the ROK National Assembly visited India from Jan. 30- Feb. 2, 2005.
4. India-ROK Joint Commission
India-ROK Joint Commission for bilateral cooperation was established in February 1996, which is chaired by the External Affairs Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade from the Korean side. The first meeting of the Joint Commission was held in Seoul on April 3, 2002. So far, five meetings of the Joint Commission have been held, the last one held in Seoul in September 2007.
5. Tourism, Culture & Education
A Tourism Agreement was signed between India and ROK in 1993. During 2008, the Mission has issued over 62,000 visas to Korean nationals. Visa work is outsourced since August ’07 and has proved to be convenient and popular with the Korean visa seekers. We have agreed to facilitate the opening up of India Tourism Office in RoK and Korean Tourism Office in India.
(i).Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP)
The Cultural Exchange Programme forms the basis of cultural cooperation between India and Korea at the Government level. The latest CEP covering the years 2009-12 was signed in September 2009.

(ii) Cultural Festivals/Performances/Exhibitions in 2009
(a) ‘Amrita Revisited’ a painting exhibition sponsored by ICCR which is a tribute by 50 contemporary women artists to Amrita Shergill was hosted in RoK from April-June 2009. It was exhibited in Korea Foundation’s Areum Gallery and in Nami Island.

(b) National Museum of Contemporary Art in RoK hosted a two month long Contemporary Art exhibition –‘Open Your Third Eye’ from April to May 2009.

(c) Ministry of Culture, GoI organized a Festival of India in Sept. 2009 in RoK. Under this initiative, a 55 strong Indian contingent of performing arts participated in the 3rd Delphic Games from Sept 9-15 in Jeju Island and won bronze prize. Around 35 artists from this group presented an ensemble of folk instruments/folk dances and a few classical dances at Busan, Seoul and Nami Island. This was the first major Indian festival in RoK since many years.

(d) India Special Exhibition showcasing Indian contemporary art curated by internationally renowned curator and art critic, Ms. Gayatri Sinha took part in the annual Korea International Art Festival in Sept. 2009 held in Seoul.

(e) Kuchipudi Dance Group
An ICCR sponsored five member Kuchipudi Dance group led by Ms. Manju Hemamalini gave performances in Seoul, Nami Island and at the Gala Diwali function organized by Annapurna Women’s Club in Oct. 2009.

(ii). Non-Governmental Cultural Exchanges
The mission facilitates and supports Indian participation in film festivals, food festivals and community festivals. There are two major universities in ROK which have courses for study in Hindi. The ICCR has in the past, sent one Hindi Professor on deputation to the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

(iii). Sister-city Relationship
Gimhae, the city where an Indian princess from Ayodhya landed and married Prince Kim Suro, signed an MOU establishing a sister-city relationship with Faizabad- Ayodhya. A monument in memory of the Princess was erected in March 2001 at a site donated by the Ayodhya administration. Busan and Mumbai have signed an MOU on mutual cooperation in 1977. The Gyeonggi Province signed an MOU for Mutual Benefit with the State Government of Maharashtra in March 2007. “Twin City” relationship between Incheon & Kolkata cities was also signed in October, 2007. Seoul City has a sister city relationship with Mumbai and has expressed interest in establishing a sister-city relationship with Delhi. Twinning between Pocheon & Jaipur and Gwangju & Bengaluru cities is at an advanced stage. However, there is not active programme of interaction between these sister cities.

(iv). Non-Governmental Friendship Organizations
The Korea- India Society, Tagore Society of Korea and Indo-Korean Foundation are prominent. These institutions have made valuable contributions towards promoting India-Korea cultural exchanges, including translation of works by Rabindranath Tagore and other famous Indian writers.

(v). Education
The number of Indian students enrolled in ROK universities, mostly in scientific fields, is steadily increasing. There is also growing interest for education in India amongst the ROK students, including in English/Hindi language education, school and higher education at boarding schools and technical institutions like IITs. Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University have opened Korea Studies and Korean Language Courses respectively. Similarly, two South Korean Universities have also been maintaining Indian Studies Departments. A Professor from ROK is stationed in New Delhi to teach Korean Language at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. Madras University has also opened a Department of Korean Studies.

(vi). Scholarships
ICCR offers two scholarships to South Korean students every year to study in various disciplines in Indian Universities, which are being fully utilized. ROK side had offered two scholarships from 1996 to 2001. The Kendriya Hindi Sansthan, Agra, regularly provides scholarships to Korean students for studying Hindi at the Sansthan. Seven slots are available under TCS of Colombo Plan for short term courses which are availed by officials of the ROK Government. Courses for Diplomats run by Foreign Service Institute are being availed by MOFAT officials. In addition, prominent Institutes in Science and Technology field and others have been inviting Indian students and researchers for studies under KOSEF's Brain Pool Programme. ROK students have also been offered admission in Universities like Pune on self- financing basis. The Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) has been promoting Joint Research Exchange of Human Resources and Information.
6. Consular matters and Indian Community in ROK
(i). Treaties on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition
was signed in Oct ‘04 and is in force since June 2005.

(ii). Visa Exemption Agreement.
India and the Republic of Korea have, from October 03, 2005, been granting visa exemption to official and diplomatic passport holders for a period not exceeding ninety days.

(iii) Visa Simplification Talks.
The Second round of discussions on the text of the Draft MoU for the simplification of Visa Procedures between India and ROK were held at Seoul on 05 and 06 Oct 2009. It was agreed to expedite the finalization of the text in view of the recent signing of India – ROK Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement in August 2009. ROK has more stringent Visa Issuance Procedures than India and steps are being taken to sensitize the Korean Government of the same.

(iv). Indian Community in ROK is estimated to be about 6000.
The composition of the Indian community in Korea includes businessmen, IT professionals, scientists, research fellows, students and workers (legal and illegal). Out of the total number of Indians, there are about 150 businessmen dealing mainly in textiles. Over 1000 IT professionals/engineers have recently come to ROK and are working in various companies including large conglomerates. There are about six hundred scientists/post-doctoral research scholars in ROK working in prestigious institutions.

(v) Indian Community Associations.
The Indian Merchants Association (IMA), Shri Satya Sai Organization, Indian Association of Korea comprising mostly IT professionals , Indians in Korea ( IIK ), an organization comprising a mix of students and professionals and Annapurna Indian Women's Association (AIWA) are prominent. The AIWA, under the aegis of the Embassy, provides a forum for the Indian community to interact on a regular basis and holds gala events on occasions like Holi and Diwali. It also participates in various international cultural festivals, to promote Indian culture and art. The Sikh community in ROK is active and runs two Gurudwaras. Shri Satya Sai Organization is undertaking activities such as running an elementary school and helping to raise awareness about Indian values.
19 November 2009

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