The Badass Koreans

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First thing is, there are two types of categories for Koreans who’ve made Russia their home.

And when I say Russia, I actually mean the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

CIS

source – http://www.rian.ru RIANOVOSTI 2010

sakhalin-island

Anyway, one type of Koreans refers to themselves as Sakhalin Koreans;they live on an island called Sakhalin just off the coast of Russia.

They DO NOT LIKED to be called Koryo-saram, someone who resides in the post-Soviet states, aka the independent states of Central Asia, or as I mentioned before, CIS.

I would imagine that it would be like how Americans don’t like to be called Canadian and vice-versa.

When I was asked if I was Canadian for the first time while in South Korea,
I kind of died a little inside.

Well, not really, but it’s like when someone guesses something about you,
and it’s totally wrong. O.O

geongsang and jeolla
Anyway, the Sakhalin Koreans are originally from Gyeongsang and Jeolla. (map on right)

But why even move in the first place ?

Well, they didn’t move by choice. During World War II, the Japanese government forced them to work in the coal mines in Sakhalin.

*Sigh* Ah Japan, I love you, but why so cruel to our people ?

Moving on.  In the 19th century, many Koreans had to leave the country because they were poor peasants and could not survive in their current environment.
Only a small handful were of the wealthy elite and owned the farmlands.  This was during the Joseon Dynasty of Korea.

Willard Dickerman Straight and Early U.S.-Korea Diplomatic Relations, Cornell University Library

Willard Dickerman Straight and Early U.S.-Korea Diplomatic Relations, Cornell University Library

Many moved for a better life, and did they move !  The first Koreans to migrate to the Russian Empire included 761 families, equating to 5,310 people.  Then, many sought for an even better life in Siberia.

Good Ol’ Siberia.  Everything was going so well. Until the Russo-Japanese War in 1907.  Under the authority of Japan, Russia set an anti-Korean law.  A lot of lands were taken away and Korean laborers were laid off.

So what now ? Well, Koreans just said f*ck this sh*t, and the migration into Russia kept growing.

Willard Dickerman Straight and Early U.S.-Korea Diplomatic Relations, Cornell University Library

Badass Koreans with sunnies. Willard Dickerman Straight and Early U.S.-Korea Diplomatic Relations, Cornell University Library

The Bolshevik Revolution? “F*ck that too,” they said (at least, this what I would’ve said), and more people kept coming.

Eventually, the population grew to about 106,817 by 1923.  The government tried to slow down the movement but it didn’t really stop the Koreans.  They just kept on coming.  The only thing that occurred was that Koreans had to naturalise as Soviet citizens.  Otherwise, the Soviets didn’t really do much.

The other minor setback was when the Japanese used Korean spies to infiltrate Russia.

So a new Resolution was signed which meant Koreans could either cross the border into the Japanese-ruled Korea or exile to Central Asia.  Considering how much history the Koreans had with the Japanese, they chose Central Asia.

When they got there, there was a problem, this area was a difficult place for Koryo-saram.  Most of these families were not acclimatised in this dry region, and financial promises never occurred.  So about 40,000 deported Koreans died between 1937 and 1938.

But things started to look up, though; the government finally provided assistance to them and in just a mere three years, they were on their feet again.

All the facts I used were from wikipedia, so if you want a thorough history about Koryo-saram it’s all there; the culture, cuisine, language, and loads more were never mentioned in this post.

The point of this post today was to tip my hat to these guys.  Any person who packs their bags and leaves their country has to have guts, real guts.  It’s been a long road, and the road will still continue but now in a much lighter view.

If anyone is a Koryo-saram or a Sakhalin Korean, I’d love to hear your personal story.


ki4ada
Offline
Joined: 10/16/2013
Re: The Badass Koreans

At first, my English skills are not so good for writing of full history of Russian Koreans (I don’t like “Koryo-saram”, it’s true), but I’ll try.

My father is Russian, my mother is Korean. If later I mention my grandfather, it means my Korean grandfather.

At a moment in Russia three main types of Russian Koreans according living region: Sakhalin, Primorsky region (which has border with North Korea) and Central Asia (actually it’s not Russia, but areas of USSR).

Sakhalin: as you mentioned, during World War II the Japanese government forced captured Koreans to work in the coal mines. During war Russians captured island. Since that a lot of Koreans still live there.

Primorsky region: the first Koreans migrated to the Russian Empire in order to find food and job. My grandfather liked to tell me and cousins, how Koreans crossed the river Tumangan (I’m not sure about correct spelling). Before World War II in Primorsky region were really a lot of Koreans. Actually they did almost all agricultural work  there.

Central Asia: before War all Koreans were moved from Primorsky region to Central Asia, because, as you mentioned, Japanese used Korean spies. Many people died during deportation. All family of my grandfather died, but he survived.

After War Koreans were allowed to come back to Primorsky region. Some part agreed, some people made choice to stay in Central Asia (at a moment it’s mainly Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan).

Every group of these three types has its own specific characteristics. I don't want to offend anyone, so I will not describe details.

P.S. What exactly means “Badas” in your title?

koreandiaspora
Offline
Joined: 06/26/2014
Re: The Badass Koreans

Thank you so much for your response :) 


Yes, I was aware that Sakhalin people did not like being called Koryo Saram which is what I wrote in the article. 

I didn't know about the Primorsky region so I will have to look that up another time and read about that. 

'Badass' is a slang term that means 'someone who is not afriad of anything and do things because they want to'.  In this article, I meant it in a really good way. 

Again, thank you for your response and I understood what you said :) 

Jenny

kilvinger
Offline
Joined: 07/24/2015
Re: The Badass Koreans

"So a new Resolution was signed which meant Koreans could either cross the border into the Japanese-ruled Korea or exile to Central Asia.  Considering how much history the Koreans had with the Japanese, they chose Central Asia."

Please, be accurate with historical facts. Korean people in Far East of Russia did not choose to exile to Central Asia, they were massively deported on Stalin's orders during 1937-38. You can find more reliable historical information, for example, in this article by Gelb (1995): http://www.jstor.org/stable/131438?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Or even reading an abstract of this paper: https://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1794/12388/Lee_oregon_0171N_10377.pdf?sequence=1

 

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