Korea-India ties celebrated on Republic Day

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Korea-India ties celebrated on Republic Day

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Indian Ambassador Vishnu Prakash, center; Jeong Kab-yoon, right, the National Assembly vice speaker; and Kim Ki-jai, the former minister of government administration and home affairs, light a traditional Indian lamp on Jan. 26 at the 66th Republic Day of India celebration held at the Millennium Seoul Hilton in Jung District, central Seoul. By Park Sang-moon

The Embassy of India last week commemorated the country’s 66th Republic Day with an event at the Millennium Seoul Hilton in Jung District, central Seoul, which was attended by approximately 400 people.

Republic Day commemorates the adoption of India’s constitution and is one of the three national holidays celebrated in the South Asian country, along with the Independence Day on Aug. 15, and Gandhi Jayanti on Oct. 2.

In a welcoming address on Jan. 26, Indian Ambassador Vishnu Prakash underscored Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s victory last May in a landslide election.

He also highlighted key diplomatic steps during the past year to strengthen ties between India and Korea, such as President Park Geun-hye’s state visit in January.

Prakash also noted the plan by the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra) to establish Korea’s first industrial park in India, in the state of Rajasthan, adding that he was pushing ahead with organizing Modi’s state visit to Korea later this year.

“The past three years working in Korea were three great years - and the best three years of my life,” he said. “I feel like [it has only been] three months” since landing here.

Jeong Kab-yoon, the National Assembly vice speaker who participated as an honorary guest, said India is Korea’s “friend and strategic partner,” and the brotherhood “was strengthened while Ambassador Prakash was stationed here.”

Jeong leads a friendship association formed with Korean and Indian lawmakers.

Hanging on the wall behind the podium was a photograph of President Park shaking hands with Modi during their trip to Myanmar last November for the 25th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit.

At the front of the banquet hall flanking the podium were several acrylic and oil paintings depicting Indian culture and society, all of which were provided by the Indian Art Museum in Seocho District, southern Seoul.

A buffet of Indian dishes was arranged along the far left and right sides of the room, including chickpea salad, chicken curry, palak paneer (spinach and cheese curry), steamed basmati rice, dal makhani (lentil curry) and Cape Brandy bread pudding.

Artists at the Indian Cultural Center, all dressed in traditional attire, provided entertainment for the international crowd with music and dance performances.

Koreans wearing hanbok, or traditional Korean clothing, took to the stage later to dance and sing with their Indian counterparts.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [selee@joongang.co.kr]
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