NEW DELHI: A 2000-year-old princess of Ayodhya may become the symbol for a modern bilateral relationship between India and South Korea. That is, if the Indian government has its way.
As one of its new initiatives, the Indian Council for Cultural relations (ICCR), the cultural diplomacy wing of the Ministry of External Affairs, is organising an International Conference about Princess Suriratna of Ayodhya, who is believed to have married a Korean King. The title of the two-day conference to be held on July 14-15 clearly gives out the intent of the exercise –’Shared Heritage as New Variable in the Indo-Korean Relations: Historicising the Legend of Princess from Ayodhya and its Legacy’. The tale of the Indian princess is seen as a legend, with the no explicit historical evidence yet. It first found mention in a 13th century Korean document, which stated that a princess from Ayodhya, Suriratna came to Korea after a divine vision and married King Kim-Suro in 48 AD. While the Korean text mentioned the city as “Ayuda”, it is generally identified with the ancient Indian kingdom.
Their descendants are said to be Kim clan – who make up 12 per cent of South Korea’s population. In modern times, their members include the East Asian nation’s former President and Nobel Laureate Kim Dae-jung, former Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil and former President Kim Young-sam. “The legend of Ayodhya Queen, though, has a deep-rooted impact on Korean society and politics, but has attracted little attention among the academics and policy makers in both India and Korea,” said the concept note of the Conference.
The Conference has identified six sub-topics for research papers to be presented, which include themes like ‘legend of Ayodhya princess and its role in the shaping of Korean political history’ and ‘prospects of the legend of Ayodhya Princess in promoting Indo-Korean relations’.