Seoul was the host city to 1998 Olympics and 2002 FIFA world cup soccer. It was for the first time that Seoul organized G-20 summit, the first mega political event that was held in the Republic of Korea's capital city. It was the city where the leading and emerging economies controlling about 85% of the world's wealth converged to discuss ways and means of coping with the world-spread economic downturn, to facilitate trade and to discuss sustainable and balanced growth. AIR correspondent Salman Haider, who had been to Seoul to cover G-20 summit, has written a report on the miracle city of Hangang river.
Modern day Seoul is one of the most modern capital cities of the world which was first to introduce Mobile TV Technology, first to introduce ultra high speed broadband service, has subway trains and magnetic bullet trains.
Seoul has a beautiful landscape. More than 20 rivers and streams, including Hangang flow across the downtown areas, while the city is surrounded by small and big mountains such as Namsan. The Hangang, commonly known as Han River, is well known to the world as a symbol of Korea's fast economic growth in the 1970's. Korea achieved dramatic development from the 1960s onwards when the nation's first five-year economic development plan was implemented. The growth transformed Korea from a country languishing in the ashes of the Korean War (1950-53) to the world's 13th largest economy.
It is a city where modernism and tradition can be seen side-by-side. It has Indian connection too! Indian ambassador to the Republic of Korea, Skand Ranjan Tayal says, " There is a legend here, that around 2000 years ago, a princess of from Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh came to Korea and married a prince here. The Kim clan in Korea claims to be of the same lineage." The Buddhist monk started coming to Seoul from India as early as 400 AD and Korean monks also visited India.
In this backdrop, it becomes more important that India should have a closer cultural tie along with economic relations with Korea. Mr. Tayal said that the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, ICCR will open a cultural centre in Korea next year while the Korea is also planning to open a cultural centre in New Delhi. The ambassador said, the Indian Embassy in Seoul issued visa to around 70 thousand Koreans last year of which about 50% were Buddhist pilgrims.
The art and tradition of India also inspires Korean citizens. A Seoul girl, Beena Keum has spent 6 years in India to learn Oddisy Dance from her guru late Padmashri Gangadhar Pradhan. She amazingly learned Oriya in initial 6-7 months of her stay in Orrissa and is very fluent in language. She was recently in India for her "Mancho Pravesh" or debut performance.
There are several folk dances still popular in Seoul. Regular performances are held in theatres and even restaurants.
Seoul is fast developing. The COEX (acronym for Convention and Exhibition) building where the G-20 Summit was held has world's largest television screen. The 3,000 strong army of media people from all around the globe was in the media hall to see the world leaders conferencing and outlining the strategy of economic growth. The building is four floor 106,621 square metre meetings venue with over 450,000 Sq. M total floor space. It was built in 1988, the year of Seoul Olympics. Now, it has become international business destination.
Let us hope that the India-Korea cultural relations, apart from economic ties flourish in the years to come.