India-Korea Ties Kept Intact since Ancient Times
Since times past when Koreans referred to India as Cheonchukguk, the South Asian country has influenced Korea in numerous ways. Among other things, India introduced Buddhism to Korea via China. Hyecho, a Buddhist monk of the Unified Silla Kingdom, authored Wang o cheonchukguk jeon (Record of a Journey to the Five Indian Kingdoms), a travelogue describing his visits to the then five kingdoms in India, making it the world’s only book depicting eighth-century India and Central Asia.
Interestingly, India and Korea both celebrate their national independence on August 15 every year, although they have given different names to the days—Independence Day in India and Gwangbokjeol or “Light Retrieving Day” in Korea. Korea gained independence on August 15, 1945, and India two years later.
During the Korean War, India dispatched medical troops to Korea, including the 60th Parachute Field Ambulance (60th PFA) Platoon comprised of two surgery teams and one dental team which included surgeons, anesthesiologists, physicians, and dentists. After arriving in Korea in November 1950 with medical supplies and medicines, the troops treated countless soldiers and civilians until they left in February 1954, exemplifying both high-quality medical expertise and philanthropy.
From June to July last year, the Korean Cultural Centre India paid tribute to the Indian troops’ dedication and sacrifice by holding a special exhibition on the Korean War. This year, the two countries commemorated the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic relationship, and they continue to maintain steady, amicable ties and exchanges in the field of Buddhism and other sectors.
Poster for special exhibition 60 Para Field Ambulance.
Courtesy of the Korean Cultural Centre India