When asked about South Korea, people in India tend to mention things mostly related to K-Pop, K-food, K-Cosmetics, K-Dramas, K-Movies, etc. There is no doubt that the magic of the South Korean Wave or Hallyu (한류) has won millions of Indian hearts. A few years ago, one could never find Khimchi in Delhi. But now, there are chains of Korean cafes and restaurants in India. Korean pop, or K-pop, has gathered armies of Indian fans, who cheer for their favourite idols even from miles apart and come together at times of need. Recently, K-pop group TRI.BE has collaborated with Indian actor Allu Arjun and singer Armaan Malik for a Coke Studio performance. Thus, it can be said that the soft power of South Korea has brought the two countries closer in an effective manner.
However, India-South Korea ties are not limited to soft power exchanges. In this regard, the second issue of our magazine aims to present the readers with a multifaceted perspective of India-South Korea relations. India and South Korea will be celebrating 50 years of the establishment of formal relations next year.
Recently, India-South Korea relations have become multidimensional as the two countries have engaged in trade agreements, cultural interactions, educational exchanges, medical cooperation, technology ties, defence pacts, etc. Even historically, South Korea and India have shown pieces of evidence of cultural relations. For instance, according to Samguk Yusa (삼국유사) or The Heritage History of the Three Kingdoms, Princess Suriratna from Ayodhya came to Korea and married King Kim Suro and later became Queen Heo Hwang-Ok. Apart from this anecdote, Korea experienced Buddhism, which originated in India and reached Korea through China. Fast forwarding to 1950-53, India deployed an army medical unit to provide crucial medical support to the injured during the Korean War. To commemorate India's contribution during the Korean War, the Korean Cultural Centre India (KCCI) in New Delhi hosted an exhibition, portraying the joint efforts of Indian and Korean troops through 32 archived photographs.
In recent years, the personal bonding of former South Korean President Moon Jae-In and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also brought the two countries closer. In 2021, India and South Korea agreed on the joint production and export of military hardware. The two countries also decided to enhance intelligence sharing and boost cooperation in cyber and space domains under the umbrella of defence and security ties. The new administration in Korea under President Yoon Suk-Yeol, as per many experts, is assumed to carry forward the warmth and enthusiasm that the two countries have managed to achieve in the last few years. Although it is too soon to say, President Yoon is expected to take a harder line toward China than his predecessor, which may increase South Korea's engagement with the Indo-Pacific construct.
The India-South Korea relationship has now entered a defining moment where the two countries clearly recognise and appreciate the potential and opportunities, they both offer to each other. The present issue deals with this multifaceted relationship and we feel honoured to be joined by policymakers, professors, and young scholars for enhancing our knowledge of the diplomatic, historical, strategic, cultural, defence, and economic dimensions of the relationship.
I am hopeful that the magazine will serve its purpose and will eventually become an important reading on India-South Korea ties.
Torunika Roy Co-Editor