Seoul, July 23 :
In yet another sign of the growing people-to-people ties between India and South Korea, a bronze bust of Mahatma Gandhi was unveiled in the South Korean city of Busan to mark the inauguration of an Indian Cultural Centre.
Suh Hyeong-soo, the newly elected mayor of Busan metropolitan government, unveiled the bust Monday at the picturesque Hongbeop-sa temple.
Also present at the ceremony were Ven Shim San, chairman of the Hannarae Foundation of Culture, Vishnu Prakash, the ambassador of India to South Korea, and Satish C. Mehta, director general of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), according to an Indian embassy statement.
Among those who attended the inauguration ceremony were Hae-dong Lee, chairman of the Busan City Council, Kim Young-shik, director of the Indian Arts Museum, presidents of Korean universities, political and business leaders, defence personnel, and scholars.
The Mahatma’s bust was crafted by renowned Indian sculptor Gautam Pal. A Manipuri dance recital that followed marked the formal inauguration of the Indian Cultural Centre, Busan, adjoining the Hongbeopsa Temple.
In his address, Mayor Suh noted the long and steadily deepening relationship between India and Korea and hoped that Mahatma Gandhi’s message of peace and brotherhood would inspire every Korean.
ICCR director general Mehta said the people of Busan and Korea were paying a great tribute to India and humanity by installing the bust of Mahatma Gandhi.
Ambassador Prakash expressed happiness at the briskly expanding people-to-people ties between India and Busan, which is regarded as Korea’s cultural capital.
The ambassador and the ICCR director general also visited Gimhae to pay respects at the memorials of King Kim Suro and Queen Heo Hwang-ok, a princess from Ayodhya in India who had traveled to Korea in 48 A.D. and married King Heo. Five million Koreans trace their ancestry to the royal couple.
In March this year, India had gifted a sapling of the sacred Bodhi Tree from India’s Bodh Gaya town to South Korea, almost a quarter of whose population of 50 million are Buddhists. It was a fulfilment of an offer then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh had made to South Korean President Park Geun-hye, as a special gesture of India’s friendship and goodwill, when she visited India in January.