About Us India-ROK Defence Relations

INDIA-ROK DEFENCE RELATIONS


General

1. First ever general elections in South Korea were held in May 1948 under the auspices of the United Nations. Mr KPS Menon from India was appointed as the Chairman of the nine member UN Temporary Commission on Korea (UNTCOK) to organize and oversee the elections. He played an important role in the peaceful conduct of the general elections.

Korean War and the Armistice

2. During the Korean War (1950-53), India deployed an Army medical unit; the 60th Parachute Field Ambulance, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel A.G. Rangaraj. The unit disembarked at Pusan on 20 November 1950, and was initially deployed at Pyongyang on 29 November 1950. It was then divided into two sub units; the 'Forward Element' grouped with 27 British Brigade and the "Administrative Element" located at Daegu to assist the Korean Army Hospital and also treat civilians. The Forward Element was in the thick of action including a major airlift, "OP TOMAHAWK" with the 8th US Army from 23 to 31 March 1953 in the area of Munsan that involved linkup with 3rd Division US Army and later countering a massive enemy offensive on 22 April 1953. The unit came under command 28 British Brigade on 01 July 1951 with formation of the Commonwealth Division. It then participated in a series of operations until 23 August 1953. The unit comprised 627 personnel, suffered 03 fatal and 23 non fatal casualties during the deployment and treated over 222,324 patients including civilians during the Korean War earning numerous awards and widespread commendation.

3. The Korean War ended with an armistice agreement in July 1953. Members of Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission (NNRC) from Czechoslovakia, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and India, selected India to head the NNRC and supervise exchange of Prisoners of War (POW). Lieutenant General KS Thimmaya was appointed as the Chairman of the Commission. India dispatched one Brigade Group designated as Custodian Forces-India (CFI) comprising 5230 personnel to Korea, under Major General SSP Thorat. The 60th Indian Field Ambulance was merged with the CFI which took charge of over 25,000 POWs and assisted in their repatriation. Some of the POWs who refused to be repatriated were assisted in migration to neutral nations of their choice. Lieutenant General KS Thimmaya and the CFI won widespread respect of the Korean people by their exemplary and professional conduct.

Recent Years

4. India and ROK defence relations have expanded in recent years, spurred by a convergence of strategic interests, shared mutual goodwill and several high level exchanges. Bilateral ties between the two countries were raised to the level of 'Strategic Partnership' during the visit to India by the previous President of ROK Mr Lee Myung-bak in January 2010 and further elevated to “Special Strategic Partnership” during the visit of PM Narender Modi to ROK in 2015.

5. Several important agreements were signed during the visit to ROK of then Defence Minister AK Antony in September 2010 including MoUs on Defence Cooperation, and Defence Reaserch and Development. India agreed to set up a Defence Wing at its Embassy at Seoul, which opened on 26 October 2012. This was followed by several apex level engagements, to include, visit of Minster of National Defence of ROK Mr Kim, Kwan-jin to India in December 2012, visit of former Defence Minister of India, Shri Manohar Parrikar, to ROK in April 2015 and visit of Shri Arun Jaitley, Hon’ble Finance Minister & former Raksha Mantri to ROK in June 2017. A bilateral Agreement on the Protection of Classified Military Information was concluded during the state visit of President Park Geun Hye to India in January 2014. It was also agreed to hold a regular dialogue between the national security structures of the two sides. ROK President Moon Jae-in visited India in July 2018 and held summit with Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. In a joint statement the two leaders agreed to explore further possibilities to coordinate efforts in the defence and strategic spheres in order to benefit from each others unique capabilities and experience and in this context agreed to enhance military exchange, training and experience sharing, Research & Development and to enhance defence industry cooperation.

6. The two countries have instituted several forums for regular interaction between the two Ministries of Defence. The Defence Policy Dialogue (DPD) instituted at the level of Deputy Minister in 2013, has since been upgraded to the level of Defence Secretary and will now be a part of '2+2 Dialogue', between the two sides. Joint Committee Meeting (JCM), a bilateral dialogue for cooperation in defence industries & logistics, between Minster DAPA and Secy (DP) is held every year. A total of seven JCM have since been held with the last one at Delhi in April 2018. Steering Committee Meeting (SCM) is a bilateral dialogue for joint defence R&D between DRDO & DAPA / ADD (ROK). A total of four SCM have since been held with the 4th one held at Seoul in Dec 2017.

7. Bilateral Maritime cooperation has been one of the vibrant aspects of our defence & security relations. Navy and Coast Guard ships have been visiting each other’s ports on a regular basis and have also been holding joint exercises. In 2017 Three ROK Navy ships visted Indian ports and held exercises with the Indian Navy, while ICG Ship “SHAURYA” visited ROK. In April 2018, one KCG ship visited India and participated in SAREX-18, conducted by ICG. A delegation led by Commissioner General KCG also held 9th High level meeting with DG, ICG, while ICG participated as an observer in MMEX (Multilateral Multi Disciplinary Exercise) hosted by KCG.

8. There have been regular and active exchanges of bilateral visits by delegations from various military training establishments that include the National Defence College (NDC), Higher command and management courses and training centre for United Nations peace keeping operations. ROK has officers attending the NDC & the Defence Services Staff College in India while Indian officers are attending courses in Korea National Defence University & Joint Forces Military University.

As on Aug 2018