India is becoming a crucial economic partner for South Korea, it would be a good time to examine how the equation between the two countries has shaped up so far
South Korean President Moon Jae-in is in the country to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and enhance bilateral economic cooperation between Seoul and New Delhi.
During his visit, the South Korean President is also scheduled to hold talks with President Ram Nath Kovind.
Considering that India is becoming a crucial economic partner for South Korea, it would be a good time to examine how the equation between the two countries has shaped up so far. Here's a quick recap.
> Bilateral relations
Bilateral relations between India and South Korea, officially known as the Republic of Korea, were established in 1962 and upgraded to Ambassador-level in 1973.
South Korea's open market policies found resonance with India's economic liberalization, and its 'look east policy' and 'act east policy', leading to the establishment of strong bilateral relations.
"India-Republic of Korea (RoK) relations has made great strides in recent years and has become truly multidimensional, spurred by a significant convergence of interests, mutual goodwill and high level exchanges," the Ministry of External Affairs had said in a statement.
> Political relations
India played an important and positive role in Korean affairs after the latter's independence in 1945. During the Korean War (1950- 53), both warring sides accepted a resolution sponsored by India. A ceasefire was declared on July 27, 1953.
In February 2006, former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam visited RoK and his visit led to the launch of a Joint Task Force to conclude a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which was operationalized on January 1, 2010.
Following this, Korean President Lee paid a visit to India as Chief Guest at India's Republic Day celebrations on January 26, 2010. That is when bilateral ties between the two countries were raised to the level of strategic partnership.
Both the countries signed the Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation Agreement in 2011 during the then President Pratibha Patil's state visit to RoK.
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to South Korea in 2015, the bilateral relationship was upgraded to 'special strategic partnership'.
In a joint statement, PM Modi and President Park Geun-hye agreed to establish a '2+2' consultation mechanism at Secretary/Vice Minister of Foreign Office and Defence Ministry.
> Commercial relations
Trade and economic relations between India and South Korea gathered momentum after the implementation of CEPA in 2010. Bilateral trade between the two countries in 2011 crossed $20.5 billion, registering a 70 percent growth over a two-year period.
Indian exports to South Korea stood at $2.91 billion and imports from there stood at $8.71 billion, as at the end of July 2017. This was 26 percent and 30.1 percent higher year on year, respectively.
Some of the major items that India exports to South Korea are mineral fuels, oil distillates (mainly naphtha), cereals, iron and steel.
Seoul's main export items are automobile parts, telecommunication equipment, hot rolled iron products, petroleum refined products, base lubricating oils, nuclear reactors, mechanical appliances, electrical machinery and parts, and iron and steel products.
> Cultural relations
India and South Korea established a Indian Cultural Centre (ICC) in Seoul in April 2011. Another Culture Centre was established in Busan in December 2013.
In order to boost people-to-people relations and travel between the two countries, India extended the visa-on-arrival (VoA) facility for South Korean tourists in April 2014.
Exchange of youth delegations between India and RoK has been taking place on an annual basis for several years now.
Good air connectivity between the two countries has been established with Air India, Asiana Airlines and Korean Air operating flights.In November 2015, the bilateral civil aviation agreement of 1994 was revised to increase weekly flights between the two countries to 19. This resulted in new operations by Korean Airlines, which then started direct flights to Delhi.