Ayodhya, considered to be the birthplace for Lord Rama, had a special visitor this week. On Tuesday, the First Lady of South Korea, Kim Jung-sook, came to this town in Uttar Pradesh to take part in Diwali celebrations, as well as to witness the memorial ceremony of a Korean queen. Kim Jung-sook was accompanied by her husband, President Moon Jae-in, who were on a four-day visit to India.
Many South Koreans believe that they can trace their ancestry to this city because of an Indian princess who married a Korean king and started a dynasty.
What is the story?
Folklore has it that the then king of Ayodhya had dream in which God ordered him to marry off his daughter to a South Korean king, named Kim Suro. And so the legend follows that Princess Suriratna, known as Heo Hwang-ok in Korean history, moved to the country some 2000 years ago. She started the Karak dynasty by marrying a local king.
Does it have any historical significance?
The story cannot be completely substantiated and as per this report, the story of Suriratna is described in the ancient Korean text, Samgyuk Yusa – also known as Samgyuk Saki – meaning the memoirs of three kingdoms. According to the text, the princess is said to have lived 189 years. After her death, a tomb with a stone pagoda was built in Kimhae (also known as Gimhae), in her memory. It is believed that the princess brought that stone from Ayodhya.
However, there is no clear evidence to justify these claims.
“Her origin story is considered to be mythical and is not considered to be history by academics. There have been several fictional renditions of the story as there is plenty of room for imagination,” David Cann of the BBC’s Korean Service said.
FL Kim Jung-sook will visit #India from Nov. 4-7. The FL and her delegation will attend the ground-breaking ceremony of the Queen Suriratna(Heo Hwang-ok) Memorial in #Ayodhya,#UttarPradesh and join #Diwali celebrations. @MEAIndia @narendramodi @IndiainROK @ambsripriya https://t.co/nu8PxOVwnO
— The Office of President Moon Jae-in (@TheBlueHouseENG) October 31, 2018
How is it relevant today?
More than 60 lakh people in South Korea claim their ancestry to Princess Suriratna. This includes Kim Yoon-ok, President Lee Myung-bak, and former President Kim Young-sam. In 2001, historians and government representatives unveiled the Queen Hwang-ok’s memorial on the west bank of the River Saryu in Ayodhya. Since then, every year, South Koreans have been visiting Ayodhya to pay tribute to their princess at her motherland.