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India–North Korea relations


India–North Korea relations

India–North Korea relations
Map indicating locations of India and North Korea


North Korea

India and North Korea have growing trade and diplomatic relations. India maintains an embassy in Pyongyang, and North Korea has an embassy in New Delhi.

India is one of North Korea's biggest trade partners and a major food aid provider.[1] According to CII, India's exports to North Korea in 2009 totaled more than US$1 billion.[2]

However, India is a vocal critic of North Korea's nuclear proliferation record and has also voiced concerns over its military relationship with arch-rival Pakistan.[3] India has repeatedly condemned North Korean nuclear tests and views its nuclear program as a threat to regional security.[4][5]

India strongly supported UN resolutions and military operations against North Korea during the Korean War. However, India has said that it wants the "reunification" of Korea.[6] According to 2014 BBC World Service Poll,23% of Indians view North Korea's influence positively, with 27% expressing a negative view.[7]


  • History 1
    • Pre-modern relations 1.1
    • Korean War 1.2
  • Economic relations 2
    • Trade 2.1
    • Food aid 2.2
  • References 3


Pre-modern relations

Relations between the two countries extends back to 48 CE, when Queen Suro, or Princess Heo Hwang-ok, travelled from the kingdom of Ayodhya in North India to Korea.[8] According to the Samguk Yusa, the princess had dreamt about a heavenly king who was awaiting heaven's anointed ride. After Princess Heo had the dream, she asked her parents, the king and queen, for permission to set out and seek the man, which the king and queen urged with the belief that god orchestrated the whole fate.[9] Upon approval, she set out on a boat, carrying gold, silver, a tea plant, and a stone which calmed the waters.[8] Archeologists discovered a stone with two fish kissing each other, a symbol of the Gaya kingdom that is unique to the Mishra royal family in Ayodhya, India. This royal link provides further evidence that there was an active commercial engagements between India and Korea since the queen's arrival to Korea.[8]

A famous Korean visitor to India was Hyecho, a Korean Buddhist monk from Silla, one of the three Korean kingdoms of the period. On the advice of his Indian teachers in China, he set out for India in 723 CE to acquaint himself with the language and culture of the land of the Buddha. He wrote a travelogue of his journey in Chinese, Wang ocheonchukguk jeon or "An account of travel to the five Indian kingdoms". The work was long thought to be lost. However, a manuscript turned up among the Dunhuang manuscripts during the early 20th century.

Korean War

India condemned North Korea as an aggressor when the Korean War started, supporting Security Council resolutions 82 and 83 on the crisis. However, India did not support resolution 84 for military assistance to South Korea. As a nonaligned country, India hesitated to involve itself in a military commitment against North Korea. Instead, India gave its moral support for the U.N action and decided to send a medical unit to Korea as a humanitarian gesture. The 60th Indian Field Ambulance Unit, a unit of the Indian Airborne Division, was selected to be dispatched to Korea. The unit consisted of 346 men including 14 doctors.[10]

India was chair of the 9-member UN Commission that monitored elections in undivided Korea in 1947. After the Korean War, India again played an important role as the chair of the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission in the Korean peninsula. India established consular relations with North Korea in 1962 and in 1973, established full diplomatic relations with it.[11] India's relationship with North Korea has however been affected by North Korean relations with Pakistan especially due to its help for Pakistan's nuclear missile programme. In 1999, India impounded a North Korean ship off the Kandla coast that was found to be carrying missile components and blueprints. India's relations with South Korea have far greater economic and technological depth and India's keenness for South Korean investments and technology have in turn affected Its relations with the North adversely. India has consistently voiced its opposition to North Korean nuclear and missile tests.[12][13]

Economic relations


Trade between India and North Korea has seen a large increase in recent years. From an average total trade of barely $100 million in the middle of the 2000s, it shot up to over $1 billion in 2009. The trade is overwhelmingly in India's favour, with its exports accounting for roughly $1 billion while North Korean exports to India were worth $57 million. India's primary export to North Korea is refined petroleum products while silver and auto parts are the main components of its imports from North Korea.[14] India participated in the sixth Pyongyang Autumn International Trade Fair in October 2010 and there have been efforts to bring about greater economic cooperation and trade between the two countries since then.[11][13] In 2010–11, Indo-North Korean trade stood at $572 million with India's exports accounting for $329 million. India has been providing training to North Koreans in areas like science and technology and IT through agreements for such cooperation between Indian and North Korean agencies and through India's International Technological and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme.[15][16]

Food aid

In 2002 and 2004, India contributed 2000 tonnes of food grains to help North Korea tide over severe famine like conditions. In 2010, India responded to North Korea's request for food aid and made available to it 1300 tonnes of pulses and wheat worth $1 million through the UN World Food Programme.[17][18]


  1. ^ Why Does India Have Relations With North Korea?, IBTimes, December 30 2011
  2. ^ Look Who's Helping North Korea, Forbes, Nov 2010
  3. ^ India raises nuclear proliferation issue with North Korea, livemint, Jul 01 2013
  4. ^ India says North Korea nuclear test "of deep concern", Reuters, Feb 12, 2013
  5. ^ Kim's death: Will India-North Korea ties improve?, NDTV, December 20, 2011
  6. ^
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ a b c NDTV article
  9. ^ Iryeon, pp. 161−164. (tr. by Ha Tae-Hung & Grafton K. Mintz) (1972). Samguk Yusa. Seoul: Yonsei University Press. ISBN 89-7141-017-5.
  10. ^ Kim Chan Wahn. "The Role of India in the Korean War", International Area Studies Review, June 2010; vol. 13(2), pp. 21–37.
  11. ^ a b "The food bridge India built with Kim's Korea". The Telegraph. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  12. ^ "Kim's death: Will India-North Korea ties improve?". NDTV. 19 December 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  13. ^ a b "North Korea's rocket launch unwarranted: India". The Hindu. 13 December 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  14. ^ "Look Who's Helping North Korea". Forbes Magazine. 9 August 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  15. ^ "How much it will affect India-North Korea ties". Nav Hind Times. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  16. ^ "India – DPR Korea Relations". Ministry of External Affairs. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  17. ^ "India Gives Food Aid as U.S.-SK Think". Daily NK. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  18. ^ "India's secret-ish romance with North Korea". Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
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