First lady Kim Jung-sook will visit India without President Moon Jae-in next week to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for a park commemorating the Indian-born wife of the king of an ancient Korean kingdom, the presidential office said Wednesday.
The four-day trip starting on Sunday will be the first time in 16 years that a South Korean first lady has made a foreign visit without the president. The last first lady who did so was Lee Hee-ho, wife of late former President Kim Dae-jung.
Kim plans to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday and attend the groundbreaking ceremony following day for the park, which commemorates Heo Hwang-ok, also known as Empress Heo, the Indian wife of Kim Su-ro, the founding king of Korea's Gaya Kingdom (57 B.C.-668 A.D.).
She is also scheduled to attend a lighting ceremony for India's Diwali festival of lights.
The upcoming trip follows a state visit that President Moon and Kim made to India in July.
At that time, Modi asked South Korea to send a high-level delegation to the groundbreaking ceremony and the festival to celebrate the cooperation and history between the two countries.
Modi later sent an official invitation for Kim to visit the country, officials said.
"India is a key partner in the New Southward Policy," deputy presidential spokesperson Ko Min-jung said, referring to the Moon administration's policy to strengthen relations with South Asian nations. "First lady Kim's visit signifies our government's will to move relations with India further forward." (Yonhap)