Indians in Korea
|Regions with significant populations|
|North Korea||20 (2001)|
|Korean · Various Indian languages · English|
|Hinduism · Sikhism · Islam
Christianity · Jainism
|Related ethnic groups|
|Indians in Japan · Indians in Russia|
According to a few short passages in the Samguk Yusa, an 11th-century Korean chronicle, Heo Hwang-ok, consort of Suro of Geumgwan Gaya was originally a princess born in the ancient kingdom of Ayodhya (in modern day India). She was the first queen of Geumgwan Gaya, and is considered an ancestor by several Korean lineages. Archeologists discovered a stone with two fish kissing each other, a symbol of the Gaya kingdom that is unique to the Mishra royal family in Ayodhya, India. This royal link provides further evidence that there was an active commercial engagements between India and Korea since the queen's arrival to Korea in the year 48 AD.
Members of both the Heo lineages (including the clans of Gimhae, Gongam, Yangcheon, Taein, and Hayang) and the Gimhae Kim lineage consider themselves descendants of Heo Hwang-ok and King Suro. Two of the couple's ten sons chose the mother's name. The Heo clans trace their origins to them, and regard Heo as the founder of their lines. The Gimhae Kims trace their origin to the other eight sons.
The Indian army provided a medical unit to tend toand the sick and wounded in the Korean War. With the communist invasion of South Korea in 1950, the UN sent out a call to the free world for assistance. India decided not to get involved militarily but contributed a medical unit, the 60 Parachute Field Ambulance which served in Korea for a total of three and a half years (Nov 1950- May 1954), the longest single tenure by any military unit under the UN flag.
They were involved in providing medical cover alternately to the US Army/ROK forces and the Commonwealth Division under the UN Command as well as the local civilians, and earned a very well-deserved title, "The Maroon Angels". The unit also looked after the North Korean POWs. The highlight of the tenure undoubtedly was when the unit provided an ADS and a surgical team (7 officers and 5 Other ranks) during Operation Tomahawk, an airborne operation launched on 21 March 1951 by the US Army’s 187 Airborne Regimental Combat Team.
Towards the end of the Korean War in 1953, a reinforced brigade known as the Custodian Force of India was deployed for the repatriation of the prisoners of war and was deployed for almost two years (1953–54).
After the Division of Korea
South Korea has been gaining popularity among Indian expatriates. Since the 1970s, many Indians have been coming to the South Korea and now there are about 7,000 Indians living and working in the country.
According to officials of the Indian mission in South Korea, over 1,000 engineers and software professionals have recently come to South Korea, working for large conglomerates such as LG and Samsung, which have today become household names back in India. There are also around 125 Indian scientists and post-doctoral research scholars working or conducting research at various institutions in the country. Indian companies are also making inroads in South Korea. The agreement between Indian and South Korea on IT will leverage the IT software capabilities of India and IT hardware capabilities of South Korea, resulting in an increased flow of IT professionals between the two countries.
According to statistics of the South Korean immigration department, there are 1,547 Indians staying illegally in the country (24.3%).
Many Indian IT professionals and engineers who came to South Korea in search of better career prospects are finding it tough surviving on their salaries. Most engineers, in fact, are not willing to extend their stay in the country beyond one year, the minimum contract period as their salaries are not sufficient to sustain a decent lifestyle in Seoul. This is so despite the fact that South Korean companies are keen to employ Indian engineers and are willing to pay them salaries that are impressive by Indian standards.
According to Indian engineers, they are paid far less than their foreign and Korean counterparts and they are expected to work long hours. Besides the discrimination in salary, the high cost of living in South Korea is the other reason why many Indians wouldn't want to settle here.
Organisations and associations
Some of Indian associations in South Korea include "Indians In Korea" (also known as IIK) with more than 3000 members, the "Indian Association of Korea" with mainly professionals as members, and the "Annapurna Indian Women's Association".