AYODHYA – South Korea’s First Lady Kim Jung-sook was set to visit the famous Taj Mahal mausoleum in Agra in the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India on Wednesday, the day India celebrates its largest Hindu festival Diwali.
Kim Jung-sook is on a four-day visit to India at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to commemorate 2,000 years of ties between Indian and Korean royalty and inaugurate Diwali festivities in Ayodhya.
“Ayodhya and Korea have a deep historical connection through the legendary Princess Suriratna of Ayodhya, who traveled to Korea in 48 CE and married Korean King Suro,” a foreign ministry statement said on Oct. 31.
“The First Lady’s participation in the festivities in Ayodhya will showcase our close civilisational links as well as the ongoing deepening engagement between our two countries,” it added.
On Tuesday, Kim began her Ayodhya visit by paying tribute to the Queen Suriratna (Heo Hwang-ok) Memorial in Ayodhya.
Accompanied by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, she also presided over the unveiling of a plaque at the memorial.
Kim, who arrived in the country on Nov. 4, wore a pale-green sari with a golden border as she opened the Diwali celebrations, photos shared by the Indian prime minister on Twitter showed.
The South Korean first lady also showed off a henna tattoo – considered auspicious in India – on the palms of her hand, according to efe-epa photos.
“It is a matter of immense joy and pride that Mrs. Kim Jung-sook, First Lady of the Republic of Korea visited Ayodhya and also wore traditional Indian clothing. The people of India deeply appreciate this gesture,” Modi, who had met the first lady on Monday, said in a tweet on Tuesday.
South Korea and India signed an agreement in July when President Moon Jae-in visited the country, for the upgrade and beautification of the memorial dedicated to the legendary princess of Ayodhya.
Many Koreans trace their ancestry back to the princess, who was also known as Queen Heo Hwang-ok.
During her Ayodhya visit, the first lady recalled historic ties between India and Korea and prayed for a peaceful and prosperous future for both countries, local media reported.
“Ayodhya and South Korea have an ancient link. This link forms the cornerstone of historical and civilisational bonds between India and the Republic of Korea,” PM Modi tweeted earlier.