India and South Korea both envisage shared vision of deeper cultural links, open trade and economic environment and moreover stronger high level political cooperation. President Park was chief guest of Indian Republic day in January 2014. Though diplomatic ties between both countries started in 1973 only economic relationship has been strengthened, leaving wide gap in other potential sectors.
India and South Korea celebrated the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties in 2013. Ideological differences during cold war was hindrance in relationship between both sides ,but economic reforms of 1991 opened areas of cooperation between both countries. Recently Modi government, has expressed outstanding devotion for stronger links between the two countries to reap maximum mutual benefit.
India’s ‘Act East Policy’ and ROK’S Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI) has endorsed to uplift the relationship to ‘strategic partnership. Both sides agreed to take their bilateral relationship to qualitatively higher level. Both sides recalled their solidarity towards their common interest in values of democracy, liberal international economic order, open society and further to strengthen their shared interest, both countries facilitate annual summit meetings, joint commission, parliamentary exchanges to strengthen democratic institutions.
Both countries recognised need for comprehensive reforms in UNSC so as to include significant developing economies as its member. South Korea manifested its reinforcement for India’s membership in Wassenaar Arrangement, Missile Technology Control Regime, the Nuclear Suppliers Group and Australia Group which are multilateral export control regimes. India supported ROK effort in securing peace and stability in Korean peninsula and both countries urged North Korea(DPRK) to completely yield to international obligations along with UNSC resolutions and 2005 six party talks joint statement. India and ROK joined hands against all forms of terrorism and urged for early adoption of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in 2010 has boosted trade relations and It is expected to achieve $40 billion by 2015. During Park’s visit in 2014, the two countries agreed to establish a Joint Trade and Investment Promotion Committee at the cabinet level and CEOs Forum constituting heads of the industry and commerce from both sides to suggest new ideas for strengthening bilateral economic ties. ROK is one of the largest source of FDI to India. In 2014 both the sides signed nine pacts, including the cooperation on revision of the existing Double Taxation Avoidance Convention.
Korean industrial park was sought to be set up in Rajasthan, Which was expected by India to boost its industrial sector and get linked to the global supply chain. Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises has joined hands with Samsung to set up technical schools in India so as to support in technical and vocational training. South Korea expressed concern over delay in clearance of Port project in Odisa and POSCO steel plant, which was assured by India to be granted clearence at the earliest.
• Report published by Goldman Sachs deduced that Korean model should be adapted by India to strengthen its manufacturing sector. For example Korean car manufacturer Hyundai supported to Indian exports and manufacturing sector
• ROK’s proficiency in skill development and export oriented manufacturing industries can adapted by India, in this way it can aid India in building a world class manufacturing sector
• Both sides can widen their area of cooperation intelligence sharing, infrastructure development projects
• ROK can contribute significantly in 100 smart city development programme of India
Outcome of recent visit
• India and south Korea acknowledged to elevate their bilateral relationship to ‘Special Strategic Partnership’,”
• After Japan, ROK would be second country with which India will have 2+2 format diplomatic and security dialogue.
• South Korea expressed interest in collaborating in defence technology and manufacture of defence equipment in India.
List of agreements signed during PM Modi visit in May 2015
1. Agreement for the Avoiding Double Taxation on the taxpayers of the two countries
2. Agreement to facilitate cooperation between film industries of both countries.
3. MOU for Cooperation between the National Security organisations
4. MOU for Cooperating in the field of Renewable Energy Industries and Electric Power
5. MOU for Cooperation in Youth Matters.
6. Framework on Cooperation in Road Transport infrastructure
7. MOU on cooperation in maritime transport and logistics.
• joint naval exercise is conducted by both countries
• In Gulf of Aden both sides conduct defence and anti piracy operations
• In 2014 both countries signed agreement on protection of Classified Military Information
• In addition to annual meeting between national security organisations both countries decided to launch dialogue in cyber affairs.
• Purchase of South Korean mine sweepers is actively considered by India
Cooperation in Technological Areas
• ROK is keen in Collaboration in civilian use of space specially after recent success in Chandrayaan , Mars orbiter mission and GSLV launches
• Both sides created and enhanced Science and Technology Cooperation Fund to endorse joint mega projects and joint applied research and development
• ROK expressed keen interest in augmenting India’s software expertise and ROK’s hardware expertise. In this regard both sides agreed to institute India-ROK ICT Policy Forum to deliberate cooperation on information security and software.
• South Korea also expressed interest in setting up Nuclear power plants in India which was acknowledged by India
• People to people ties between both countries extend way back to 48AD. Buddhism is the common link between both countries. PM Modi gifted Bodhi tree sapling to Korea to mark and appreciate the Buddhism link with India.
• To enhance tourism e-visas for South Korean tourists was announced similarly South Korea is proposing visa on arrival for Indian tourists.
• Bollywood movies have huge market in Korea, similarly South Korean movies and music is much popular in India.
• South Korea supported International yoga day by voting in its favour in UNGA.
• Cuisines is also common factor which unites both countries.
• Both sides manifested importance of cooperation amidst technical institutes and institutes teaching
• Both leaders recognized to encourage setting up of twin city and twin province/state links to intensify and widen people-to-people ties
India ,South Korea along with Japan can leverage cooperation in multilateral talks like climate change, maritime security, drug trafficking, counter terrorism, disaster relief activities, UNPKOs, humanitarian assistance. Strategic partnership with South Korea is crucial for India for economic development and respond to Rising China in Asia-Pacific region.