According to Korean legend, around 2,000 years ago, a teenage princess named Suriratna from Ayodhya sailed across the ocean, covering a distance of 4,500 kilometers to Korea. She is believed to have married King Kim Suro, the founder of the Gaya Kingdom in Korea, and became Queen Heo Hwang-ok. Despite being relatively unknown in India, approximately 6 million people in South Korea consider themselves descendants of Queen Heo Hwang-ok and view Ayodhya as their maternal home.
These descendants eagerly watched the online consecration of the Ram Temple on January 22 and are now excited about visiting Ayodhya to witness the grand new Ram temple complex. Members of the Karak clan, who believe they are descendants of Queen Heo Hwang-ok, often visit Ayodhya to pay tributes at the Queen Heo Memorial Park, established in 2001 on the banks of the Sarayu River in Ayodhya through collaboration between the Uttar Pradesh government and Gimhae city in South Korea.
"Ayodhya is very special to us as we see it as our grandmother's home," said Kim Chil-su, the secretary-general of the Central Karak Clan Society. The Queen Heo Memorial Park, spanning 2,000 square meters, includes a meditation hall, pavilions dedicated to the queen and king, pathways, a fountain, murals, and audio-video facilities, all built in a typical Korean style.
Many members of the Karak clan plan to visit Ayodhya to pay respects at the Queen Heo Memorial Park and the new Ram temple. Yu-Jin Lee, who plans to travel with 22 others to the city in February, expressed the emotional impact of witnessing the online ceremony. Queen Heo Hwang-ok is revered as the progenitor mother of the Gimhae Heo families of the Karak clan, according to an ancient Korean history text, "Samguk Yusa."
The South Korean embassy congratulated India on the consecration ceremony, highlighting the symbolic importance of the matrimonial link between Queen Sriratna (Heo Hwang-ok) from Ayodhya and King Kim Suro from Gaya (Korea) in 48 AD. In 2015, an MoU for the expansion of the memorial was signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former South Korean President Moon Jae-in. South Korean First Lady Kim Jung-sook attended the inauguration of the beautification work in 2018, and commemorative postage stamps were issued by India in 2019. Indian diplomat N Parthasarathi wrote a novel based on Suriratna's life, titled "The Legend of Ayodhya Princess in Korea," which was translated into Korean and published in Seoul. Later, the National Book Trust of India published a children's book based on the novel.
(With Agency Inputs)