By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Editor Kim Hyung-dae
The Gimhae City of the Gyeongsangnam-do Province in Korea on the southeastern tip of the Korean peninsula, near Busan (Korea’s second-largest city), is one of the bourgeoning provincial cities in Korea.
Gimhae also has a rich history as the capital city of the ancient Kingdom of Gaya ruled by King Gim (Kim) Suro (AD 42-199) who married a princess from India, Princess Heo Hwang-ok (Suriratna of Ayuta in Indian name).
Incidentally, Mayor Huh (Heo) Sung-gon of the Gimhae City today is viewed to be one of the descendants of King Gim Suro of the Gaya Kingdom as the King married Princess Heo Hwang-ok from India.
Live History India of India has published an interesting story concerning the Royal Family of the Gaya Kingdom. Excerpts follow:
According to a Korean legend, six eggs descended from the Heaven, wrapped in a red cloth. From these eggs emerged six kings, who founded the six early kingdoms of Korea.
One of the kings was King Suro of Geumgwan Gaya at the southeastern tip of the Korean peninsula, one of the early tribal city-states that emerged in ancient Korea.
The wise and powerful ruler, King Suro, is said to have transformed Gaya into a powerful state. But the councilors advised the King to get married, he is supposed to have said “I was sent down from Heaven to rule this land, and so my spouse will descend from Heaven at a divine command.”
One day, according to the legend, a ship arrived carrying the beautiful Princess Suriratna of ‘Ayuta’. The Heavenly Lord had come in her parents’ dreams and she asked them to send the princess to Korea to find her husband.
King Suro married her in the year 48 CE, giving her the name Queen Heo. They had 10 children, the ancestors of the millions of their present-day descendants, the Gimhae Kims in Korea, who account a little less than a quarter of the total population of Korea
The tombs of King Suro and Queen Heo are located in the city of Gimhae in Gyeongsangnamd-do Province near Busan.
However, historically it is very difficult to verify where history ends and legend begins. The earliest reference to this legend is in ‘Samguk Yusa’ (Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms), a collection of legends, folktales, and historical accounts related to the early kingdoms of Korea, compiled around 1280.
Gimhae City has been working on restoring and relighting Gayasa (History of Gaya), but it has suffered from a huge burden of project costs. However, with the 6th civil elections, the restoration of the Kayasa was selected as one of the top 100 government tasks, and the government, Gyeongnam-do, and Gimhae City's research and restoration roadmap and rehabilitation plan were established in the recent year.
The second phase of the Gayasa project, which has been delayed for more than 10 years, will be negotiated for the relocation of educational institutions, and the restoration of the Gaya Royal Palace and the reconstruction of the Bongwang-dong ruins will also be carried out in earnest due to the selection of the government's national agenda.
In addition, efforts are being made to speed up the registration of UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Gaya Tombs, including Daeseong-dong Tombs, and exploring the Gayage Sites for 22 cases including Wonjiri Tombs, systematically promoting the restoration and maintenance of Gayasa.
In particular, the National Gaya History and Culture Center was attracted to the Gayasa Phase II site to establish a comprehensive support hub for exploring and collecting and managing Gayasa.
It was only after India’s independence in 1947, thanks to the efforts of then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru that Indo-Korean ties were revived. In 2001, a memorial to Queen Heo was inaugurated in Ayodhya.
Today, it is the technology professionals rather than monks and missionaries, who are taking the Indo-Korean relations forward.
Gimhae is located at the downstream of Nakdong-gang River, which rises from Taebaek-si, Gangwondo, winds the inland of Yeongnam, and flows to the south sea. Busan is on the east of Gimhae across the Nakdong-gang River and Changwon is on the west with Mt. Bulmosan on the border. Gimhae was the foundation site of the old Garakguk in 42 A.D. The founder, King Gimsuro married a princess of Ayuta in India and gave two of her sons the family name 'Heo‘.
The city name 'Gimhae' means 'The Gold Sea' as the family name 'Gim (the gold)' and 'Heo‘ originated here.
However, Gimhae-si and Gimhae-gun merged in 1995 and now became a rural and urban compound city with 1 Eup, 7 Myeon, and 9 Dong as its administrative districts. As the city developed, the population grew, numbering 200,000 in 1991, and over 300,000 in July 1997, and 542,655 this year (2020).