Leaders of S. Korea, India celebrate 150th anniversary of birth of Gandhi

By Yonhap
  • Published : Feb 21, 2019 - 22:02
  • Updated : Feb 21, 2019 - 22:02

South Korean President Moon Jae-in welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday with a ceremony to unveil a bust of late Indian leader and activist Mahatma Gandhi that will be put on permanent display in South Korea.

Modi arrived here earlier in the day on a two-day state visit.

In the unveiling ceremony at Seoul's Yonsei University, President Moon praised the late Indian leader, saying the greatness of Gandhi lies in the fact that he walked the path of peace despite the violence and threats against him and his people.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi jointly unveil a bust of late Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi in a ceremony at Seoul`s Yonsei University on Feb. 21, 2019, as part of India`s global project to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Gandhi`s birth. (Yonhap)

Noting that his country has also experienced colonial rule, the South Korean president insisted the countries must work together to help establish peace and ensure joint prosperity in the region.

"This year is also a meaningful year to South Korea," Moon told the ceremony, noting the year marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the country's provisional government under Japan's colonial rule from 1910-45.

"Gandhi's teachings that said 'Be the change you wish to see,'

and 'There is no way to peace, there is only peace,' specially touch my heart. With the unveiling of his statue today, Gandhi's spirit will forever be in the heart of South Koreans," he added.

The ceremony, also attended by the Indian prime minister, was part of an Indian project commemorating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Gandhi that seeks to have statues of the late Indian leader erected in 15 different countries, according to Moon's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

The statue of Gandhi, donated by India, will be put on permanent display at Yonsei University's Songdo International Campus in Songdo, near Incheon International Airport, Cheong Wa Dae said.

The unveiling ceremony was followed by a joint visit by Moon and Modi to Seoul's new highest skyscraper, Lotte World Tower, where Moon hosted a friendship dinner for the visiting Indian leader.

At the dinner also attended by his wife, the South Korean president said his country and its people appreciated the friendship and support of India, which sent a medical unit to help during the 1950-53 Korean War.

He also expressed his gratitude to Modi for his continued support for South Korea's efforts to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula, Cheong Wa Dae said in a press release.

Prime Minister Modi expressed hope the countries would assist each other's development by sharing their experiences of economic development and democratization, it added.

Moon and Modi will hold a bilateral summit on Friday before the Indian leader wraps up his two-day visit here.

The Moon-Modi summit will be the first since July, when the South Korean leader made a state visit to New Delhi. (Yonhap)