By Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik with VC Choe Nam-suk, Editor Kevin Lee
Ambassador Amit Kumar of the Republic of India in Seoul said, “India and the Republic of Korea are friendly countries connected by ancient bonds of kinship and shared heritage of Buddhism.”
Speaking at a reception he hosted at the Dungdung-seom Floating Islet south of the Banpo Bridge in Seoul on Feb. 1, 2023 in celebration of the 74th anniversary of the Republic Day of India, Ambassador Kumar said, “In the contemporary era, India’s contribution through its 627 strong medical contingent and the 5500 strong Custodian Forces during the Korean War were significant moments in our relations.”
Then he said, “India and Korea pursue a Special Strategic Partnership underpinned by a vision of peace, prosperity and people’s connectivity and our economic and commercial ties are deepening with two-way investments reaching over US$12 billion with Korean investments in India at US$7 billion.” He said: “Our bilateral trade was US$28 billion in 2022. We are working to realize the trade target of US$50 billion well before 2030.” (See further details of his speech toward the end of this report.)
The party was one of the best-attended diplomatic functions in recent years with many VIPs attending from within the Korean society as well as the international community, members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps in particular. Among the VIP guests in attendance were Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs Kang Jae-kwon of the Minstry of Foreign Affairs, National Assemblyman Kim Ju-young, Vice Chairman Lim Jong-seong of Korea-India Parliamentary Friendship Group.
From the mass communications media came many publishers and editors who included Senior Vice Chairman Choi Nam-suk of The Korea Post media with Managing Editor Kevin Lee and Business Editor Sung Jung-wook.
Ambassador Kumar’s speech was followed by a congratulatory speech by the Korean government representative, Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs Kang Jae-kwon from the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Kang said, “India and Korea are very friendly countries connected by ancient bonds of kinship and shared heritage of Buddhism.”
Then he said, “In the contemporary era, India’s contribution through its 627 strong medical contingent and the 5500 strong Custodian Forces during the Korean War were significant moments in our relations. India and Korea pursue a Special Strategic Partnership underpinned by a vision of peace, prosperity and people’s connectivity.” (See further details of his speech toward the end of this article.)
Details of the speech of Ambassador Kumar of India:
Honorable Members of National Assembly, Representatives Mr. Kim Ju-young, Mr. Choi-Seung-jae and Ms. Shin Hyun-young,
Mayor of Seodaemun-gu Lee Sung-Hun,
Fellow Ambassadors, and members of the diplomatic Corps,
Representatives from RoK Government,
Friends from the business community, media fraternity, universities, and cultural spheres,
Members of the Indian community in Korea.
I am Amit Kumar, Indian Ambassador to the Republic of Korea.
I am delighted to welcome you all to this reception to celebrate the 74th Republic Day of India.
The weather is a little cold outside but we offer you a warm Indian evening today.
Let me begin by wishing everyone a joyous, healthy and fulfilling year ahead. Kyemyo-nyeon Saehwe Bok Mani Badeuseyo (Happy new year of black rabbit)
We also have amongst us many long-standing advocates of a stronger India-ROK partnership. I wish to acknowledge their contributions and in particular mention former Prime Minister Dr. Lee Hong-koo and former Foreign Minister Dr. Yoon Young-kwan.
India is an ancient civilization but a young Republic. On 26 January 1950, the Constitution of India came into force and we became a Sovereign Republic. When we embarked on our journey as a Parliamentary democracy with universal suffrage, it was met with much skepticism due to our size and incredible diversity. It is a tribute to the wisdom and foresight of our founding fathers that democracy not only took firm root but also flourished in India.
Over the past seven decades, India has achieved several impressive milestones. India today is the world’s fifth largest economy, with growth of 7% in 2022. It is estimated to grow at over 6% in the next two years. Over the next decade, India is projected to become a USD 8.5 trillion economy from the current USD 3.4 trillion.
India today is changing at an unprecedented rate. I would encourage you to visit India to get a feel of its energy and dynamism. I would like, in particular, to share one metric, which exemplifies this ongoing transformation. In the year 2016, we barely had a few hundred registered start-ups. Today, we have 70,000 start-ups, with over a hundred unicorns emerging in the past three years.
India and Republic of Korea are friendly countries connected by ancient bonds of Kinship and shared heritage of Buddhism.
In the contemporary era, India’s contribution through its 627 strong medical contingent and the 5500 strong Custodian Forces during the Korean War were significant moments in our relations.
India and Republic of Korea pursue a Special Strategic Partnership underpinned by a vision of peace, prosperity and people’s connectivity.
Our economic and commercial ties are deepening. Two-way investments are over USD 12 billion with Korean investments in India at USD 7 billion. Our bilateral trade was US$28 billion in 2022. We are working to realize the trade target of US$50 billion well before 2030.
Several other important aspects such as supply chain resilience, security and defense, energy, sustainable development, and climate change, start-ups and innovation, new & emerging technologies, all bring us together.
Promoting greater mutual understanding and friendship among our peoples through enhanced cultural and people-to-people exchanges is another key priority. The announcement of the RoK Indo-Pacific Strategy and its vision to be a Global Pivotal State also offers new opportunities for two countries to collaborate on regional and global issues.
Our G-20 Presidency, with the theme – “One Earth, One Family, One Future,” as my Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has emphasized, will be ambitious, and action oriented. Inclusive growth, including for the global south, SDGs, food and energy security, energy transition, climate finance, and digital transformation will be high on the agenda. We look forward to working with the Republic of Korea and other partners for a successful G20 Summit.
The year 2023 is a milestone year as we celebrate 50 years of our diplomatic relations. The two Vice Foreign Ministers recently met for comprehensive discussions. The two Foreign Ministers also held a telephonic conversation earlier this week. We expect an intense calendar of visits and engagements this year.
A few words about the Indian diaspora - they represent the best of Indian talent and creativity in foreign countries. As in other countries, the Indian community is also doing well here. It is around 12,000 strong, having doubled over the past 5 years.
There are a growing number of professionals, scientists, researchers and students amongst them. You are an important bridge between India and South Korea.
On a personal note, my family and I have now been in Seoul for over four months. We have enjoyed every moment of our time here. There is great admiration in India about the ‘miracle on the Han River’. There is much to experience and absorb as well from Korean cuisine, traditional and contemporary culture as well.
I look forward to working with the Korean Government and friends to widen and deepen our Special Strategic Partnership.
To conclude, I again welcome you all to this Indian evening. I hope you will enjoy the short Indian cultural program and sampling of Indian cuisine.
Speech of Deputy Foreign Minister Kang Jae-kwon of Korea:
Your Excellency Amit Kumar, Ambassador of the Republic of India,
The Honorable Im Jong-wung, Vice President of Korea-India Parliamentary Friendship Group,
Ambassadors, Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening. Namaste.
I’m delighted to be here with you tonight on the occasion of the 74th anniversary of the Republic Day of India.
First of all, let me extend heart-felt congratulations to the people and the government of India.
I am very honored to be part of in this meaningful event that celebrates the day, when the Constitution of the Republic of India, the very foundation of the modern democratic republic took effect, thanks to the hard work of India’s founding fathers including Dr. Ambedkar.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Long before our diplomatic ties were forged half a century ago, our two peoples already had a trade and cultural relationship for thousands of years.
Our common cultural and historical heritage as well as India’s contribution during the Korean War are shining examples of our deep-rooted friendship.
Based upon this long friendship and shared values of freedom and democracy, and thanks to our joint efforts since the establishment of diplomatic ties, our bilateral relations have made an impressive progress in almost all areas of mutual interest.
And I am happy to tell you that this year we have an important milestone for both of our countries, the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic ties.
This presents us with an excellent opportunity to strengthen our Special Strategic Partnership to chart a new course for the next 50 years of shared prosperity.
Although we are just a few weeks into this year, there have been active high-level exchanges between our two nations.
We already held the 5th vice-ministerial level Foreign Policy and Security Dialogue in Seoul on January 16th to take stock of various bilateral and regional issues, and discuss ways to develop our multi-faceted partnership.
This Monday our foreign ministers had a tele-conference to discuss high-level meetings and people-to-people and cultural exchanges.
Bilateral trade continued to grow reaching an all-time high last year. Many Korean companies are actively investing in India, contributing to the success of the “Make in India” programs.
We are also working together to successfully update the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) this year to bolster the framework for economic cooperation between our two countries.
In addition, we are developing future-oriented cooperation in the defense industry, science and technology including digital transformation, space, and infrastructure.
Mutual fascination for each other’s culture based on the deep historical bond draws the people of our nations closer today.
Popularity of K-pop, K-movies, and K-food is increasing in India. Meanwhile, a growing number of Koreans enjoy Bollywood movies and Indian foods such as Nan and Dal.
And from next week, the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism will make the biggest-ever pilgrimage in India. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for India’s generous support and meticulous care for this event.
Moreover, with the recent release of Korea’s own Indo-Pacific Strategy and India’s G20 presidency, there are huge opportunities for us to work together for the region and beyond.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A great opportunity to open a new era for the Korea and India relations truly awaits us.
And as Prime Minister Modi said “Once we decide we have to do something, we can go miles ahead,” we are determined to do our best to make big progress this year.
Thank you for having me today to convey a message of friendship from the Korean Government.
Let me once again congratulate your Republic Day.
I look forward to working together with you in making our Special Strategic Partnership even more special to prepare for another 50 years of mutual prosperity.
The Korean people have a very special regard for India. This is very well exemplified in the view of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Korea on India and bilateral relations, friendship and cooperation. Exports:
Korea-India bilateral relationship boasts of longstanding historical and cultural ties, spanning over two millennia. The two countries forged diplomatic relations in 1973, paving the way for a sound and steady development in bilateral relations across a wide range of areas, including politics, economy and culture. The signing of the Korea-India Special Strategic Partnership in 2015 and the launch of New Southern Policy by the President Moon Jae-in Administration in 2017, a policy that is in sync with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s Act East Policy, have led to a turnaround in our bilateral ties. The State Visits of President Moon Jae-in to India in July 2018 and of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Korea in February 2019 have further taken the bilateral ties and friendship between the two countries to a new high.
As a newly emerging power, India holds vast potential and opportunities for bilateral cooperation. Nearly 700 Korean companies, both big and small, have entered the Indian market and increased their investment. With K-Pop and other Korean Wave contents gaining popularity among the Indian youth, interest of Indian people in Korean culture and language is steadily growing. In milestone developments, Korean history was included in the Indian school text-books in 2018 and Korean language was offered as a foreign language in Indian secondary schools in 2020.
Around 10,000 Korean nationals reside in India and they serve as the backbone of strong bilateral relationship. In this challenging time of the Covid-19 pandemic, the health and safety of Korean residents in India remains the highest priority of the Embassy. The Embassy pledges to do its best in providing necessary assistance to the Korean citizens and residents, as well as the Korean corporations doing business in India.