INTERNATIONAL / SECURITY
Topic: General Studies 2 and 3
- India and its neighborhood- relations.
- Security challenges and their management in border areas
India-South Korea Relations
Context: Despite numerous bilateral agreements between India and South Korea the relationship has not been able to move to next level.
Did You Know?
- Korean Buddhist Monk Hyecho (704–787 CE) or Hong Jiao visited India from 723 to 729 AD and wrote travelogue ”Pilgrimage to the five kingdoms of India” which gives a vivid account of Indian culture, politics & society.
- Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore has composed a short but evocative poem – ’Lamp of the East’ - in 1929 about Korea’s glorious past and its promising bright future.
A brief history of India-South Korea Relation
- During the Korean War (1950- 53), India has played a major role in cease-fire agreement signed between both the warring sides and the ceasefire was declared on 27 July 1953.
- The relationship did not move much till 1990s due to South Korea’s closeness to US and India either following non-aligned or under Russian influence
- The economic relation between India and South Korea grew after economic reforms in India which led to signing of Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in 2010
- Relations between India and South Korea was raised to the level of Strategic Partnership in January 2010 and upgraded to Special strategic partnership in 2015
- India has a major role to play in South Korea’s Southern Policy under which Korea is looking at expanding relations beyond its immediate region.
- Similarly, South Korea is a major player in India’s Act East Policy under which aims to promote economic cooperation, cultural ties and develop strategic relationships with countries in the Asia-Pacific.
Challenges with Bilateral Relationship
1. Stagnation in Economic relationship
- The economic partnership is struck at $22 billion annually.
- Also, the defence partnership appears to have receded from great all-round promise to the mere sale and purchase of weapon systems.
2. Cultural Prejudices on both sides preventing people-to-people ties
- Cold War Era perception: There may be a widespread perception among South Koreans of India as a third world country, rife with poverty and hunger.
- Indian Diaspora: Within South Korea, the integration of Indians in the local population is far from complete, with some instances of racial prejudice or discrimination toward Indians
- Inadequate acknowledgment of Korean Culture: To a certain extent Indians are unable to distinguish between the cultural and social characteristics of South Koreans from that of Japanese/Chinese.
- All these stands in the way of a relationship based on openness, curiosity and warmth.
3. Unfulfilled potential of Cultural Centres
- Indian Culture Centre (ICC) was established in Seoul 10 years ago to promote people-to-people contacts.
- However, ICC has to reach an exponentially wider audience and its focus has to expand beyond the urban, English-speaking elite of Seoul.
- The same may be applicable to South Korean culture centres in India.
- As the balance of power in the region continues to shift fast, India and South Korea may need each like never before, to protect their ways of life.
- However, both countries will be able to help each other only if they can fill the cultural gaps.
Connecting the dots
- Challenges w.r.t. North Korea
- Kim Jong-un and Trump’s historic meeting in Singapore in 2018