Koreans in India
Total population
10,397 (2013)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Tamil Nadu4,550[1]
National Capital Region3,545[1]
West Bengal209[1]
Korean Buddhism, Christianity[2]
Related ethnic groups
Korean diaspora

There is a small Korean community in India, consisting largely of South Korean expatriate professionals and their families, as well as some missionaries and international students at Indian universities.[3]

Migration history

In 526 CE, Korea monk Gyeomik, went to India to learn Sanskrit and study the monastic discipline Vinaya, and founded the Gyeyul (Korean계율종; Hanja戒律宗; RRGyeyuljong) branch of Buddhism that specializes in the study of Vinaya which derives directly from the Indian Vinaya School.[4]

In 673 CE, Chinese Buddhist pilgrim, Yijing who reached India, recorded that the people of Indian subcontinent were familiar with Korea's customs and beliefs and they regarded Koreans as "worshipers of the rooster". This concept about Koreans was grounded in a legend of the Silla dynasty.[5]

By early 1950s, migration of Koreans to India had commenced; the Korean Association of India was founded in that decade in New Delhi by three South Koreans who had gone into exile after being released from prison in their home country. However, large-scale growth in the community did not begin until the 1990s.[6] In 1997, the Korean community in India numbered just 1,229 people, according to South Korean government statistics; it grew somewhat by 42% to 1,745 people by 2003, but then in the next six years it nearly quintupled in size, making them the 25th-largest Korean community in the world, behind Koreans in Guatemala and ahead of Koreans in Paraguay.[1][7]

Population distribution

South Koreans

Chennai was the earliest hub of the Korean community in India due to Hyundai's decision to open factories there in 1995. Koreans concentrated largely in the Kilpauk township, which has acquired the nickname of "Little Korea" as a result.[8][9] Later communities in Delhi and Bangalore experienced rapid growth in the 2000s.[6] According to the 2013 statistics of South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 4,550 lived in Tamil nadu, 3,934 lived in Maharashtra, 3,545 lived in the National Capital Region (mainly in New Delhi, Gurgaon, and Noida), 1,042 in Goa, 880 in Karnataka, and 209 in West Bengal. Only 11 held Indian citizenship.[1]

North Koreans in India

There is a small population of North Koreans present in India. They are centered in New Delhi, where North Korea has an embassy.

Business and employment

Most corporate expatriates come for maximum three- to five-year stints before returning home.[6] In New Delhi, major employers of South Korean expatriates include Samsung and LG Electronics.[10] In the Chennai area, many work for Hyundai Motors and its suppliers.[11] After Kia Motors opened its production unit in Bagepalli in Andhra Pradesh more than 1200 Koreans arrived in India and mostly reside in North Bengaluru. Some expatriates have also opened Korean restaurants, aimed largely at their co-ethnics rather than local Indians, in Chennai, New Delhi, and Bangalore, though not in Mumbai.[3]


According to MOFA's statistics, 109,000 of the South Koreans in India in 2015 held student visas.[1] As early as 2002, roughly 200 South Koreans were studying at local universities in New Delhi, mainly the University of Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru University.[12] At Delhi University, with roughly 90 students from South Korea, they have even formed a Korean Students Union as well as a traditional Korean drum group.[13] The Korean Association, with an office in the Hauz Khas Complex, also holds extracurricular Korean-language classes for Korean expatriate children.[10] South Korean information technology students have also been attending courses at private institutes in the Pune area since 2002.[12] There are also some North Korean students studying in New Delhi as well.[14]

There is also an increasing number of South Korean primary and secondary students entering India on student visas; their parents send them unaccompanied to international boarding schools there in order to take advantage of inexpensive English-medium education, at roughly half the price of comparable schools in the United States or United Kingdom. In addition to language proficiency and cost, the reputation of Indian mathematics education, seen as even more rigorous than that in South Korea, let alone the US or UK, is another draw for parents. In 2006, there were 1,435 South Korean primary and secondary visa students in India, according to the Indian embassy in Seoul.[15] For example, South Korean children comprised 16% of all students at the American Embassy School in New Delhi, making them the largest nationality behind Americans, and 20% of the students at the Woodstock School in Landour, Uttarakhand.[15][16] Many students are studying in Trio World Academy, Bengaluru as its offer extended Korean school program and closer to the establishment of Kia Motors.

In New Delhi, many South Korean adult expatriates have joined in Hindi classes; about half of all foreign students enrolled in advanced Hindi classes or certificate or degree courses are Koreans, and major employers such as Samsung have organised year-long Hindi courses for their employees.[17]


The Korean Association of India publishes a bimonthly magazine in Korean, Namaste India.[6]

Religion and pilgrimage to India

Buddhist expansion in Asia, from Buddhist heartland in northern India (dark orange) starting 5th century BCE, to Buddhist majority realm (orange), and historical extent of Buddhism influences (yellow). The overland and maritime "Silk Roads" were interlinked and complementary, forming what scholars have called the "great circle of Buddhism".[18]
Buddhist expansion in Asia, from Buddhist heartland in northern India (dark orange) starting 5th century BCE, to Buddhist majority realm (orange), and historical extent of Buddhism influences (yellow). The overland and maritime "Silk Roads" were interlinked and complementary, forming what scholars have called the "great circle of Buddhism".[18]
A commemorative Rs. 25.00 postage stamp on Princess Suriratna (Queen Heo Hwang-ok ) was issued by India in 2019.
A commemorative Rs. 25.00 postage stamp on Princess Suriratna (Queen Heo Hwang-ok ) was issued by India in 2019.
A commemorative Rs. 5.00 postage stamp on Queen Heo Hwang-ok (Princess Suriratna) was issued by India in 2019.
A commemorative Rs. 5.00 postage stamp on Queen Heo Hwang-ok (Princess Suriratna) was issued by India in 2019.

Sarnath, where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, has long been a popular destination for travelling Korean Buddhists, as in the case of Hyecho's 8th-century pilgrimage there.[19]

Memorial of Heo Hwang-ok in Ayodhya, is visited by a large number of Koreans, especially around jesa in April, to pay tribute to Queen Heo Hwang-ok as she is considered an ancestor to large number of Koreans. She was supposedly of Indian-origin from Ayodhya and had traveled to Korea to marry King Suro of Geumgwan Gaya in 48 CE.[20][21][22][23] Over 6 million Koreans, especially of Gimhae Gim clan, Gimhae Heo clan, and Incheon Yi clan, believe Queen Heo to be their ancestor.[24] Her association with Ayodhya is based on the book "Heo Hwang-ok Route: From India to Gaya of Korea" by a Senior Archeologist and Emeritus Professor at Hanyang University, Kim Byung-mo,[24] which has been called speculative by some critics.

Koreans have formed a number of Christian churches in India, including three in New Delhi, two in Chennai, and one in Mumbai.[2] Local Christian denominations also have Korean members, as in Pune, where the Church of North India began offering Korean-language services from 2005. Some Koreans also attend English-language Christian services, but where numbers permit, they have broken off to hold their own services in Korean.[25]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j 남아시아태평양, 재외동포현황, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2013-09-30, p. 97, retrieved 2015-04-30
  2. ^ a b 기타 정보 [Other information], 인도 투자핵심가이드 [India Core Investment Guide], Korea Institute for International Economic Policy, 2006, retrieved 2009-04-29[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ a b Doctor, Vikram (2008-06-08), "Food & flavour beyond Kimchi", The Times of India, retrieved 2009-04-29
  4. ^ The Buddhist Religion: a historical introduction. Richard H. Robinson, Willard L. Johnson, Sandra Ann Wawrytko. Wadsworth Pub. Co., 1996
  5. ^ Korea Journal Vol.28. No.12 (Dec. 1988)
  6. ^ a b c d Bell, Melissa A. (2008-05-02), "The hurricane bombers: With a plethora of new Korean companies coming to India, Delhi and Bangalore are becoming the new hubs of Korean culture", Live Mint, retrieved 2009-04-29
  7. ^ 재외동포현황 - 아시아 [Status of overseas compatriots - Asia], Overseas Korean Foundation, 2005, archived from the original on 2006-02-12, retrieved 2008-10-05
  8. ^ Venkatraman, Hemamalini; Sivakuma, Nandini (2009-01-15), "Growing expat community favour cluster accomodation [sic]", The Times of India, retrieved 2009-04-29
  9. ^ Sanghi, Seema (2009-02-14), "Meet Chennai's Kim Madam: Korean Kim Myoungsuk has successfully made the transition from Ansan to the Tamil Nadu capital", The Hindu, archived from the original on 2009-02-20, retrieved 2009-04-29
  10. ^ a b Kowshik, Priyamvada (2005-09-12), "Seoul of Delhi: The 2,000-odd South Korean community prefers to lead a quiet life in the city", Indian Express, retrieved 2009-04-29
  11. ^ Ghiridharadas, Anand (2006-09-12), "Foreign Automakers See India as Exporter", The New York Times, retrieved 2009-04-29
  12. ^ a b Vaidya, Abhay (2002-04-07), "The Koreans have arrived in Hinjewadi!", The Times of India, archived from the original on 2012-10-23, retrieved 2009-04-29
  13. ^ Shoba, V. (2008-12-28), "Beating their drum: A band of Korean students from Delhi University is drumming up some attention", Indian Express, retrieved 2009-04-29
  14. ^ No, Jeong-min (2009-02-17). 김용환 인도한인회 사무국장-북한 "힌디어 배워라" 김일성대 교수 파견 [Kim Yong-hwan, president of the Korean Association of India: Kim Il-Sung University professor dispatched to India] (in Korean). Voice of America. Retrieved 2009-04-29.
  15. ^ a b "India Draws More and More Korean Students", Chosun Ilbo, 2008-02-28, archived from the original on 2008-06-05, retrieved 2009-06-18
  16. ^ "S. Koreans drawn to India's business opportunities", The Daily Star, 2007-03-11, retrieved 2009-04-29
  17. ^ "Korean professionals seeing big 'I' in BRIC", Korea.net, 2007-01-08, retrieved 2009-04-29; cites Mukherjee, Anuradha (2007-01-04), "Koreans invade DU Hindi class", Hindustan Times
  18. ^ Acri, Andrea (20 December 2018). "Maritime Buddhism". Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199340378.013.638. ISBN 9780199340378. Archived from the original on 19 February 2019. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  19. ^ Jan, Yun-hua (1966), "On Hyech'o: The Korean Record on Varanasi and Sarnath", Korea Journal, 10 (9): 28–31
  20. ^ Work on Queen Heo Memorial in Ayodhya likely to be completed in 2 years, The Week (Indian magazine), 18 December 2018.
  21. ^ Il-yeon (tr. by Ha Tae-Hung & Grafton K. Mintz) (1972). Samguk Yusa. Seoul: Yonsei University Press. ISBN 89-7141-017-5.
  22. ^ The Indian princess who became a South Korean queen, 4 November 2018, BBC
  23. ^ Why 60 lakh Koreans consider Lord Ram's Ayodhya their maternal home?, 4 March 2016, Zee News
  24. ^ a b Legacy of Queen Suriratn, The Korea Times, 16 April 2017.
  25. ^ Deshmukh, Vinita (2005-03-26), "Korean mass at Deshpande church", Indian Express, retrieved 2009-04-29