Indo-Korean Emotional Connect

Gimhae is an eco friendly happy city where nature and human being live in harmony

By Markandey Rai

I was reading and listening to story of Kim Suro, King of Gaya in the first century AD in the Southern state of South Korea before the Shilla dynasty. The famous King Suro united and expanded to make a very strong kingdom and lived for more than 158 years. Most important thing, which I am telling now, is that he married with queen Heo who went from Bharat (India) by boat. Now the historians and scientist believe that she went from Ayodhya in UP from Rama family. Both had 12 children together. Two sons agreed to keep the sir name Heo and theybelieve that they are brother and sisters so they do not marry among themselves. Even the Kim also do not marry with Heos with the same belief. More than six million Koreans trace their lineage to Queen Heo. Queen Heo died at the age of 157.

Koreans have now erected a monument in the memory of Queen Heo Hwang –ok at the other side of Sarayu River and both Koreas believe that their great grandmother came from this place. This was inaugurated in the presence of over hundred of historians and government representatives including both the ambassadors from North and South Korea. In 2016 a Korean delegation proposed to develop the memorial.  That was the reason that when President Roh Moo-Hyun visited to Delhi, he said “we are cousins.”

When both Koreas are on loggerhead, and having very bitter relation, India can play a crucial role as the mediator. Keeping this in my mind, this time when I happened togo to Incheon and Seoul to address several meetings and International IT exhibitions, I decided to sneak out to go to Gimhae, which is a town close to the second largest city in South Korea, called Bussan.

It was indeed a very nice experience; I took a bullet train and reached from Seoul to Gimhae. I had booked my hotel on the Internet, and I reached there by car. It was evening by that time so I went around having my dinner and slept comfortably with planning to go to the tomb of Kim Suro, King of Gayaand Queen Heo in the morning. Initially I wished to take a taxi to save time but on enquiry I was told that it is not very far and can go by bus or on foot. On further enquiry I decided to walk on foot. I reached after walking for 20 minutes. First was the King’s tomb. I was given support by the tourist office of Gimhae and explained about the surroundings. The office was very friendly and they assured to inform the tour guide at the Queen’s tomb to take me around. It was lunchtime so I went to a nearby restaurant and ordered pizza for my lunch. The lady was very friendly and served me nice pizza of sweet potato and assigned a table near window, which can oversee the tomb of King. She explained the route to go to Queen’s tomb as well. The tour office had reopened by that time after lunch break, so I walked to that place where they guided me and informed the tour guide there as promised.

I reached to Queen tomb in less than 10 minutes walking by lanes. A lady received me and took me around. She explained me about the pagoda which queen had carried with her to protect her from any bad weather and sea storm on her sea route from India to Gimhae. The stone of pagoda has worn out due to belief among the sailors that if you keep apiece of stone with you on your voyage, it will protect you from any calamity.

The stone is a peculiar sand stone with some reddish line here and there but unique fact is that such stone are not available in Korea anywhere. It is available in India only. This confirms that this relic was from India.

Queen Heo carried with her a herb which is very popular still, and their believe is that the leafs and flower can be used as tea for curing any sickness. This is called Tangun Tea. Both the king and queen lived more than a century.

Gimhae is a happy city with beautiful nature. This is an eco friendly city where nature and human being live in harmony.  It has a great history and a very cultured city with nice and helpful people.  Gaya, the forth empire, despite its unknown history, was a tremendous empire and was famous for ironware and earthenware, difficult to find in the world. The Gaya Dynasty Period usually refers to the history of more than 600 years from the 1st century BC to the 532 or 562 AD.

Royal Tomb of King Suro is the symbolic cultural relic. King Suro of Gimhae is the progenitor of Garakguk (42 to 532 AD). Royal tomb of King Suro, founder of Garak and founder of the Gimhae Kim clan, the Gimhae Heo Clan and Incheon Yi clan.  As King Suro first came from eggs, they say that he was called “Suro”. He died in 199 at the age of 158.

Queen Heo, the wife of King Suro was the Princess of the Indian Ayuta Kingdom and her full name was Heo Hwang –OK. In 48 AD when the Princess Suriratna of Ayodhyawas 16 years old, she sailed to Garak Kingdom and married King Suro, the founder of the Garak Kingdom. In 189 AD she passed away. Queen Heo made her two sons of her 10 sons follow her last name just before she died, the Heos of Gimhae was created and they say that the marriage of the Kim’s of Gimhae with the Heos of Gimhae has been prohibited.At the tomb of Queen Heo there is an emblem with a pair of fish called Ssangeomun. It was the national emblem of Garakguk and a symbol of religious belief as an auspicious and fish is considered as the intelligent existence that protects men.Ssangeomun are still found in Buddhist shrinesof Gyeongnam, which was an old land of Gaya. Both the Tomb of King Suro and Queen Heo are of the same round shape coved with soil and height is about five meters. They are the largest tomb in Gimhae region. It is well maintained, and rituals are performed on the specific dates by the caretaker.

When both the Koreans have agreed to go for talk next week in January 2018, India can use its position of trust by both countries to bring them closure. Both were same country and families have suffered a lot by this division after Korean war in 1950. It was not their choice to divide; rather it was imposed on them by two super powers. Today geopolitics has changed and Koreans should decide their fate. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of India should work closely with the Ministry of Unification of South Korea and also KOIKA as well as with the Korean Foundation and other partners from NGO’s to pave the way for the Unification of the Korean Peninsula. We should support Korea Unification. There are several initiatives and action groups, which are active. However, there is no leader like Gandhi, Mandela or Martin Luther King who can lead this civil right movement. It is a Korean dream so the leader should come from among them. The person should be acceptable by majority in both North and South Korea to lead this movement. The Family Peace Association of Dr. Hyun Jin Moon can play a very strategic role in uniting families both side of the boarder. This is a unique opportunity and India can assist in that process through empowering Korean people to bring change from inside.

(Author is a Member, Management Committee at ARSP. Views expressed above are completely personal)