Celebrating 50 Years of Diplomatic Relations: Strengthening Bonds through Korean Language and Culture Education

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Written by: Dr. Hema, Korean Language Educator, University of Delhi

Over the past five decades, India and Korea have deepened their ties, evolving beyond political and economic relations to encompass cultural and educational collaboration. December 10, 1973, marked a historic milestone when both nations formally established diplomatic relations. As we approach the 50th anniversary of this significant event in 2023, we are celebrating 50 Years of Diplomatic Relations between India and the Republic of Korea.

The educational sector has played a pivotal role in fortifying the bond between India and Korea. Notably, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed on June 15, 2017, fostering academic and research collaboration between the South Korean Government (Academy of Korean Studies) and the Indian Government (NCERT, Delhi). High-level visits, including then Korean President Moon Jae-in’s visit to India in June 2018 and Prime Minister Modi’s visit to South Korea in February 2019, have developed further collaboration. During these visits, various Memoranda of Understanding were signed, intensifying the economic and cultural partnership. This led to manifold increase in investments by many Korean companies in India, creating a demand for Korean proficiency and as well as better understanding of Korean culture.

The recent meeting between Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and H.E. Mr. Yoon Suk Yeol, President of the Republic of Korea, during the G20 Summit in New Delhi on September 10, 2023 was an opportunity for both the leaders to discuss about the enhancing bilateral cooperation and strengthening the ties between the two countries. Every year several academic exchanges have taken place between the professors of the two countries and research scholars. The visit of Mr. Lee Cheol-woo, the Honourable Governor of Gyeongsangbuk-do province of South Korea to Delhi University in May 23, 2023, and Honourable Vice chancellor of Delhi University Prof Yogesh Singh visit to Gyeongsangbuk-do province of South Korea on October 4, 2023 emphasized the cultural and academic exchange between Delhi University and Gyeongsangbuk-do province.

Though both are Asian countries but there are lots of cultural differences, because of these differences, sometime it is difficult to make a successful conversation and establish good interpersonal relations with Korean people without knowing their culture and language. Since language plays a key role in inter-cultural communication, the promotion of Korean language education and culture in India is essential for building long-term ties between the people of India and Korea. Many Universities, schools and Korean Culture Centres are offering Korean language courses in India. Delhi University has been at the forefront of promoting Korean language education. Initiating a part-time Korean language course in 2003, the University expanded its offerings in succeeding years to include full-time postgraduate courses and M.A. (Korean), M.Phil, and Ph.D. Due to increasing popularity of Korean culture and economic growth (including Korean Drama, Korean Music, Korean goods/products) in India and seeing many carrier opportunities, the numbers of Indian learners studying Korean language at various colleges of Delhi University (Department of East Asian Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Daulat Ram College, SGTB Khalsa College, Hans Raj College, St. Stephen College, Miranda House College, Deen Dayal College) and other Indian University and Korean culture centres have also been steadily increasing. Many colleges in Delhi University (Miranda House, IP Women’s College, Lakshmibai College, Department of East Asian Studies) have organised various cultural events and academic activities on Korea and some colleges have signed MoUs with various Korean universities in recent years (Miranda House on February 24th, 2023 with National Sports University of South Korea and Zakir Husain College on August 24th, 2023 with Busan University of South Korea). Such activities will further help in developing mutual understanding and strengthening the India Korean relationship

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The impact of Korean language education extends beyond academics like providing job opportunities to Indians in Korean companies such as LG, Samsung, Hyundai, Google etc. In addition scholarships from Korean companies, Korean Government and Korean Universities to the Indian students are helping in developing academic and international exchange between the two nations. To commemorate 50 years of India- South Korea relations, Korean Cultural Centre India is organizing a Korean cultural event on December 10, 2023. This event aims to further strengthen the ties between the two nations, emphasizing the mutual understanding and cooperation between the two countries. This event would be an excellent opportunity to learn about Korean culture and to further develop the mutual understanding between India and South Korea.

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