Ayodhya, which is best known as the birthplace of the Hindu god Ram. Also, however, holds special significance for some South Koreans – many believe they can trace their ancestry to the city. This belief comes from several historical Korean stories, which tell the story of an Indian princess – Suriratna – who married a South Korean king and started a dynasty.
Legends say, Princess Suriratna, also known as Heo Hwang-ok, went to Korea in 48 AD, some 2000 years ago, and started the Karak dynasty by marrying a local king. Some Chinese-language texts claim that the then King of Ayodhya had a dream where God ordered him to send his 16-year-old daughter to South Korea to marry King Kim Suro.
Queen Hwang-ok was the princess of the “Ayuta” kingdom, according to Samguk Yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms), a popular South Korean book of fables and historical stories. The royal pair was successful. They had a total of 12 sons and lived to be over 150 years old. While children in Korea generally adopt their father’s surname, the queen was disappointed that her offspring would not be able to bear her surname. As a result, King Suro allowed two of their sons to keep her name (Heo), which is still used today.” According to historians, the couple’s descendants number more than six million, or nearly 10% of the South Korean population.
People from the Karak dynasty have also preserved the rocks that are said to have been used by the princess during her sea voyage to Korea to keep her boat stable.
An anthropologist named Kim Byung-mo Ayuta appeared to confirm the widely held belief that Ayuta was actually Ayodhya, as the two names are phonetically similar.
An agreement was signed to develop Ayodhya and Gimhae as sister cities in 2000.
Then in 2001, more than 100 historians and government representatives, including the North Korea ambassador to India, unveiled Queen Hwang-ok’s memorial on the west bank of the River Saryu in Ayodhya.
In 2016, a Korean team presented the Uttar Pradesh Government with a proposal to expand the memorial. On the eve of Diwali, South Korean first lady Kim Jung-sook lay the foundation stone for the enlargement and beautification of the current memorial on November 6, 2018. She paid her respects at the Queen Heo Memorial, attended a ground-breaking ceremony for the memorial’s upgrade and beautification, and joined the current Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, at an elaborate Diwali celebration in Ayodhya that included cultural shows and the lighting of 300,000+ lights on the banks of the Saryu River.
As per reports, every year, hundreds of South Koreans visit Ayodhya for paying homage to their legendary queen Heo Hwang-ok.