This story begins with a legend.
From a 13th century Korean chronicle – Karak Sam Kuk Yusa – of the emergence of six princes from a clutch of golden eggs, descended from the heavens in a gilded casket wrapped in red silk.
The princes miraculously attain adulthood within twelve days. Suro – the eldest – is crowned first king of the Kara dynasty and ruler of Geumgwan Gaya. His siblings take over five other lesser Gaya’s (fiefdoms? ) forming a confederacy under their mighty brother.
In the meantime (approx. 48 AD) thousands of miles South, the king and queen of Ayodhya, (the birth place of Hindu God Rama) simultaneously experience dreams that prophecy their daughter’s betrothal to the the new king across the seas.
The beautiful princess Sri Ratna (precious jewel) duly sets sail on a boat sporting red silk sails, with a couple of her male siblings in attendance, and with a few magic imbued stones to protect her on the long and arduous sea journey to keep her destined date with the great King Suro. No storm or scheming courtiers can prevent their divinely ordained union.
And so it turns out that nearly a tenth of the population of Korea – all citizens with the clan names of Kim and Huh/ Hoon/ Heo from Gimhae and Lee from Incheon – apparently share their gene pool with the descendants of the royal family of Ayodhya! And by default, Rama himself!
The proof? The ‘magic’ stones arranged in a neat pile in the pagoda near the grave site of Queen Heo Hwang-Ok – the former princess ‘Suri Ratna’ – in Gimhae, South Korea.
And a unique (to Korea) stone carving of twin kissing fishes on the gate to King Suro’s tomb nearby, traced back to the heraldry of the kingdom of Awadh! (The name for the region, borrowed from ‘Ayodhya’, and later corrupted to the colonial Oudh.) We did spot several carved fish symbols on doorways across its erstwhile capital Lucknow.
It seems Indo Korean connections go back eons before their chaebols set up shop in the subcontinent!
A fish story? Shall let you decide.
While you are here, do check out more posts from Lucknow.