Princess of Ayodhya, who Became a Queen in Korea

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In my last visit to South Korea in 2009, my old time friend Ian Lee took me for dinner to a newly opened upmarket Indian Restaurant. Chatting over drinks and food, I happened to mention about an Indian Princess, who traveled all the way to South Korea to get married to a King. I asked him if he knew about this story. He simply jumped up from his seat and remarked “How do you know about this? You are talking about my great, great, great grandmother.”

Next day he narrated this incidence to all his staff in his office and took me to the grave of this Queen located at Kimhae. He said that all her descendants gather here on a particular day to pay respect to her. He said that most of the Kim and Heo and a few of Lee are descendants of this Great Queen.

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King Suro and Heo had 10 sons together, 8 of them were given King Suro’s last name – Kim of Kimhae, but 2 of them were given their mother’s last name to honor her – Heo of Kimhae. Kimhae is the name of the region where Gaya was located. About thousand years later, one of Heo of Kimhae branch became Lee of Incheon. So, Kim of Kimhae, Heo of Kimhae, and Lee of Incheon are all related – in the old days, they couldn’t intermarry.

The holy city of Ayodhya in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India plays host to hundreds of South Koreans every year – who come to pay their tribute to their legendary Queen Heo Huang Ok. The Queen, also known as Princess Suiratna, was the Princess of Ayodhya before she went to Korea and married King Kim Suro of Karak Clan in 48 AD.

It is because of the presence of her monument in Ayodhya that around 6 million people of Karak Clan consider the city as their maternal home. The memorial was inaugurated in 2001 in Ayodhya. Six million Koreans representing the Kimhae Kim Clan, Heo Clan and Incheon Lee Clan, trace their ancestry to the Royal Union.

An analysis of DNA samples taken from the site of two Royal Gaya tombs in 2004 in Kimhae, South Gyeongsang Province, confirms that there is a genetic link between the Korean ethnic group and certain ethnic groups in India.

Back in 42 AD in South of Korean Peninsula, there was a kingdom called Gaya. The founder of the kingdom was King Suro.

In Ayodhya, parents of Princess Suiratna had a dream, in which the Heavenly Lord told them to send the Princess to King Suro in Korea who had been chosen as the King of Gaya. The dream showed that the King had not yet found a Queen. Princess’ father told her to go to King Suro.

The journey took two years by sea. It is said that the Princess, during the sea journey, carried a stone tower which allowed the Princess to safely travel the perilous sea voyage from India to Southern Korea. It’s named “Calm Wave Sutra” and is now part of the Queen’s tomb.

According to the legend, the courtiers of King Suro requested him to select a wife from among the maidens they would bring to the Court. However King Suro stated that the selection of a wife would be commanded by the Heavens.

He commanded his senior courtiers to take horses and a boat to Mangsan-Do, an island in the South. In the island, one of the courtiers saw a vessel with a red sail and a red flag. He sailed to the vessel and escorted it to the shores of Gaya (present day Kimhae or Gimhae). Another courtier went to the palace and informed the King of the vessel’s arrival. The King sent nine clan Chiefs, asking them to escort the ship’s passengers to the royal palace.

Princess refused to accompany the strangers. On King’s orders a camp was pitched on the slopes of the hills near the Palace. The Princess then arrived at the tent with her courtiers and slaves.

The twenty slaves carried gold, silver, jewels, silk brocade and tableware. Before marrying the King, the Princess took off her silk trousers and offered them to the mountain spirit. King Suro told her that he knew about her arrival in advance, and therefore, did not marry the maidens recommended by his courtiers.

When some of the Queen’s escorts decided to return home, King Suro gave each of them thirty rolls of hempen cloth (one roll was of 40 yards). He also gave each person ten bags of rice for the return voyage. A part of the Queen’s original convoy, including the two courtiers and their wives, stayed back with her. The queen was given a residence in the inner palace, while the two courtiers and their wives were given separate residences. The rest of her convoy were given a guest house of twenty rooms.

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Today the population of South Korea is 51.25 million, out of which the percentage of Indian Princess’ descendants is 11.70%. A large percentage of the country’s politicians, businessmen and intelligentsia have been and are descendants of the majestic Queen of Korea hailing from Ram’s birth place Ayodhya, in India.

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