Libmonster ID: UZ-755
Author(s) of the publication: E. V. KIM

Candidate of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Novosibirsk)

Korean diaspora Keywords:ethnic identityintegrationhost societycountry of origin

Even a decade ago, there was an opinion that globalization, unification of culture and the development of personal individualism would gradually lead to the leveling of ethnic factors in people's lives. But at the same time, processes have developed in the world related to the desire of many peoples to preserve their identity, emphasize the uniqueness of their culture and national character. This phenomenon was called the "ethnic paradox" of modernity, because it contradicted the forecasts of the development of a globalized society1.

Despite the unification of material and spiritual culture, ethnic communities remain fairly stable formations. For millions of people, ethnic identity is a given that cannot be doubted: it makes them aware of themselves and helps them answer the question "Who am I and with whom am I?" 2.

Thus, in modern society, the role of the ethnic factor does not decrease, and in some cases even increases, the processes of ethnic revival are taking place. At the same time, there is a phenomenon of an almost simultaneous rise in ethnic identity among diasporas and an increase in interest in diasporas both from the countries of origin and host countries3.

This applies to many ethnic communities, including Korean in modern Russia.


The history of voluntary resettlement of Koreans to Russia began in the 1860s, and according to the results of the 2010 census, their number is 153,156. 4

Data from the 2010 census on the national composition of the population of the Russian Federation by federal districts will be published in 2013. According to the 2000 census, there were 148,556 Russian Koreans. They were distributed in the following districts: Far Eastern - 61946 people, mainly on Sakhalin and in Primorsky Krai, Southern-39031 people, Central-16720 people, mainly in Moscow, Siberian-10797 people, Volga-9088 people, North-Western-6903 people, mainly in St. Petersburg, Ural-4071 5 people

For more than 140 years of living on the territory of Russia, Koreans went through a period of compact settlement in the Far East and mainly engaged in agriculture, suffered repression and deportation to Central Asia and Kazakhstan, then rehabilitation and restoration of rights. Today, they are spread across all regions of Russia, have a high level of education and are represented both in the business elite and in government bodies.

In the second half of the 1980s, simultaneously with the processes of socio-political transformation in the Soviet Union, the processes of awakening ethnic identity and reviving the national culture of various ethnic groups began. The beginning of the 1990s, which was marked by the processes of sovereignization in the post-Soviet space, was accompanied by the development of strategies for interaction between these groups and the state at the governmental level. One of the forms of such relations was the activity of public organizations.

At this time, many peoples of Russia, including Koreans, showed a tendency to unite. In a number of regions of the Russian Federation, existing official organizations of Koreans have been formed to express their interests and promote their consolidation.

The first such organization was the Moscow Organization of Koreans, which emerged in 1989. An all - Union structure was created- the All-Union Association of Soviet Koreans (VASK). Despite its short existence, it held several congresses, the results of which are still of great importance to this day. Fundamental decisions were taken: non-return to the issue of territorial autonomy; taking into account in their practical work not only the internal conditions, but also the international situation of the Korean diaspora; formation of a new national identity of Russian Koreans; return to the origins of national culture; introduction of a model of bilingualism in Korean society; awareness of Russian Koreans of their usefulness in the Russian state 6.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, all-Russian and international Korean organizations began to operate:

- Association of Koreans of Russia (AKR);

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- International Confederation of Korean Associations (ICCA);

- Korea Unification Promotion Association (Unity) - Federal National and Cultural Autonomy (FNCA);

- All-Russian Association of Koreans (OOK);

- International Korean Association "Unity";

- Eurasian Association of Koreans;

- Korean Sorority 7.

At the moment, more than 10 organizations of Russian Koreans are registered and operate in Moscow alone: the Interregional Public Organization for Promoting the Peaceful Unification of Korea "Bomminren", the All-Russian Association of Koreans (OOK), the Moscow branch of the OOK, the Unity Newsletter, the Guild of Korean Journalists in Russia, the newspaper "Russian Koreans", etc. 8

A similar trend was also typical for other peoples of the Russian Federation. There was an institutionalization of ethnicity in the sense of organizing ethnic groups.

Along with all-Russian associations, there are also regional Korean organizations. They set themselves such goals as promoting the revival of indigenous national culture, traditions, customs, learning the Korean language, as well as supporting the peaceful unification of Korea (from the Charter of the public association "Unity")9.

For more than 15 years, Khabarovsk has been hosting an annual Korean culture festival. It is organized by the Association of Korean Organizations of the Far East and Siberia, with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Khabarovsk Territory and the branch of the Assembly of Peoples of Russia. The purpose of the festival is to strengthen ties between Koreans living in Russia and their historical homeland.

Every year the festival gathers several thousand people, including participants and spectators. Moreover, the national composition is not limited only to representatives of the Korean diaspora of the city and region.

Representatives of all national and cultural centers operating in the regional capital, as well as ordinary residents of the city, join the celebrations. Among the guests of honor there are always representatives of the office of the Plenipotentiary in the Far Eastern Federal District, the government of the Khabarovsk Territory, the Khabarovsk city Administration, employees of diplomatic missions and guests from the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, including figures of traditional, classical and cultural heritage.-

The goals of the diaspora policy are to preserve the ethnic identity of foreign compatriots and form them into an exemplary community within the host country. 10 In reality, Seoul's plans are much more ambitious.

In the early 1990s, the main institutions of interaction with foreign Koreans were established: the Secretariat for Foreign Compatriots under the South Korean Administration of Classical and Contemporary Art.


The awakening of ethnic feelings among Koreans in Russia at the end of the 20th century coincided with the activation of the Republic of Korea's activities in interaction with foreign compatriots. Seoul considers this activity as one of the directions of its foreign policy.

By that time, South Korea had come up with an accumulated solid economic potential, which was not accompanied by a significant increase in political weight in international affairs. The country is looking for ways to address the imbalance between economic and political power. And although in official documents of the President (May 1993); the Committee on Diaspora Policy under the leadership of the Prime Minister (February 1996); the Foundation for Foreign Koreans (October 1997) 11. In 1999, a law was adopted defining the legal status of foreign compatriots, according to which they were recognized as: former citizens of the Republic of Korea, those who have a residence permit abroad, as well as its citizens who live abroad for the purpose of obtaining a residence permit; persons who previously held Korean citizenship (including those who emigrated from the country before the founding of the Republic of Korea), as well as their direct descendants 12.

page 53

The legal definition of the status of foreign compatriots indicates the development of South Korea's diaspora policy. Compared to other foreigners, foreign compatriots have privileges to enter the country, work, invest, and buy real estate in the Republic of Kazakhstan. In fact, they occupy an intermediate position between its citizens and foreigners.

According to the typology of diaspora strategies by Alan Gamlen, a scholar at the University of Oxford13, the Republic of Korea's activities in relation to foreign compatriots can be divided into the following areas::

- Building the capacity to strengthen ethnicity based on the symbol system. This includes funding Korean cultural centers abroad, Korean language courses for diaspora representatives, cultural events, and so on.

- Expanding the rights of the diaspora: Kazakhstan grants foreign compatriots privileges when entering and operating in the country.

- Receiving assistance from the diaspora: attracting investments of compatriots and intellectual personnel from among them, etc. 14

Thus, the primary task of Kazakhstan's diaspora strategies is to awaken or strengthen the sense of ethnic identity among diaspora representatives. Therefore, when considering the specifics of the ethnic identity of Koreans in Russia, it is necessary to take into account the efforts of South Korea aimed at its formation.


In Novosibirsk, Koreans unite around the Regional National and Cultural Autonomy of Koreans in Novosibirsk. The Permanent Organizing Committee regularly organizes cultural events. They receive support from the regional administrations of the city and region. In Novosibirsk, where about 2 thousand Koreans live, about 500 people gather annually to celebrate the traditional Lunar New Year.

During 2007, the author conducted a study in Novosibirsk and Tomsk, consisting of a survey of Russian Koreans aged 17-73 years with a total sample of 100 people and 6 interviews with active leaders of Korean diasporas in these cities.

Respondents were asked to perform the Kuhn-McPartland test, which allows them to determine not only the structure of self-awareness, but also the degree of significance of its various components for them.

This method was developed in the 1950s to study a person's self-identification. The interviewee is asked to answer the question "Who am I?" 20 times, using only nouns, in the order in which the answers come to mind 15. The authors of this method found that the answers are divided into 4 classes. Two of them are objective (let's call them K1 and K2), and the other two are subjective (KZ, K4). Class K1 includes such self-definitions of an individual as a physical object (I am a man, I am a woman). Class K2 consists of self-definitions that represent the individual as a social object (I am a member of society, I am a student). The class of subjective definitions of KZ includes those that are associated with socially significant behavioral characteristics (I am an optimist, I am a music lover). Finally, the K4 class is formed by those self-determinations that are more or less neutral in relation to social behavior.

The ethnic identity identifier belongs to the second class. The use of this method in the work on Koreans in Russia made it possible to assess the hierarchy of their identity. In addition to surveys, several interviews were conducted with respondents in the form of free interviews.

When performing the Kun test, 57% of respondents had an ethnonym (Korean or Korean woman) among 20 nouns. 25% placed this answer among the top 3 items. The remaining 32%, who had an ethnonym among the 20 answers to the question "Who am I?", placed the answer" Korean/Korean " among the subsequent items. This allows us to draw the following conclusions:

- the majority of Siberian Koreans (57%) have an ethnic identity in their self-consciousness structure;

- 25% of respondents are characterized by a high significance of ethnicity;

- in 32% of cases, ethnic identity is inferior in importance to other social identities;

- ethnic identity of Koreans is hierarchical in the sense of differences in the level of ethnic identity and its importance in the structure of social identities. I.e., for some, ethnic identity is one of the key places in their individual set of identities, while for others, it is one of the secondary ones.

The variation of the order under which the respondents placed the ethnonym makes it possible to identify a certain hierarchy of national identification. There are at least three groups of respondents.

The first group includes those whose responses did not contain an ethnonym (the self-name of the ethnic group). The second group of respondents placed the ethnonym among the first three points of the answer. And the third group is among the subsequent items. Gender and age differences and differences in the place of birth of respondents from different groups, although not to a significant extent, are still present. Thus, the second group of respondents is dominated by people from Central Asia and Primorye, i.e. areas of compact residence of Koreans. Respondents of the third group are most often people born in Russia, where a small number of Koreans live (except for Primorye). The first group includes people from all regions of Russia and Central Asia, but the peculiarity of this group is that only Koreans over the age of 70 are present in it. These individuals are characterized by a predominance of ce-

page 54

mein's and socially relevant (significant) identities.

The average rank number of ethnic self-assessments of Siberian Koreans is 3.4. A low rank number (closer to 1) indicates the significance of ethnicity for the group members, the strenuous work of the mechanisms of socio-psychological protection of the group from destruction 16. The rank number of ethnic self-assessments from 3 to 4 in the whole group, along with other indicators, according to N. M. Lebedeva, characterize the model of a "healthy" ethno-cultural group. This model is formed in a situation of stability of an ethno-cultural group, when interethnic relations are built according to the type of integration.

In the second part of the questionnaire, respondents were asked to place the following concepts in order of importance: Russian, Siberian, resident of Novosibirsk/Tomsk, Korean, Russian Korean, an employee of the company, or so on.

In terms of average indicators, Siberian Koreans put the concept of "Russian Korean" in the first place. Then "Korean", "Russian", " resident of Novosibirsk/Tomsk", "Siberian" and "company employee or other". Based on this, we can conclude that Siberian Koreans are characterized by a fairly high level of ethnic identity. At the same time, the Korean communities of Novosibirsk and Tomsk clearly associate themselves with Russia.

Citizenship also ranks first on this scale. The test showed that ethnic and civil indicators for Siberian Koreans are higher than professional affiliation. Indicators of the place of residence, both regional and urban, are not particularly high. This may indicate the high mobility of Russian Koreans.

Unfortunately, the survey was conducted only in Novosibirsk and Tomsk, which are representative cities of Western Siberia. The situation in other regions of Russia, especially in the Far East and Sakhalin Island, may differ to some extent from the results obtained. However, it seems that it is generally typical for the majority of Russian Koreans. This is supported by the establishment of Korean national cultural centers and regional organizations throughout Russia. They work closely with each other both at all-Russian meetings and by inviting guests from other regions to local events.

It should be noted that Siberian Koreans are represented by immigrants from other regions, including such important ones as the Primorsky Territory bordering the Korean Peninsula, as well as Central Asia, one of the centers of Koreans expelled from the Far East.


According to the results of both tests, it can be concluded that, despite living in a foreign ethnic environment for a long time, Russian Koreans retained their ethnic identity. However, the active involvement of Koreans in Russian society indicates the success of adaptation processes.

According to L. M. Drobizheva, if the social and ethnic divisions in a society do not coincide, if there are no competing social groups that differ on national grounds and there are no conflicts, then belonging to an ethnic community becomes an incomparably less significant feature for an individual than belonging to a social, political group, or collective. In normal circumstances, or rather, without "external pressure", the cultural differences that are recognized in the process of interethnic comparisons become more important for national identification.17

Koreans in Russia are not characterized by any major conflicts with other ethnic groups. Development of the Korean community in Russia origin-

page 55

dit is based on the type of integration (as opposed to assimilation and separation-the desire for separation), which is characterized by the preservation of ethnic identity simultaneously with the partial assimilation of cultural values of other ethnic groups.

One of the leaders of Russian ethnosociology, Yu. V. Harutyunyan, identifies four " ethnic "sources that feed national identity:" generic", related to origin," psychological"," cultural "and, finally,"social" 18.

The "generic" source is particularly strong in extreme situations that unite people along ethnic lines. The "psychological" source is also situational. In the conditions of devaluation of the spiritual ideals historically accumulated by the people - from religious to social-the vacuum is filled with hypertrophied national feelings.19 "Cultural" sources are people's familiarity with the national language, culture, norms of behavior, customs, rituals, and other attributes of their way of life. The essence of a" social "source is the desire to "activate" one's own people and one's own social roles. 20

Based on this theoretical concept, it can be assumed that Siberian Koreans are most strongly influenced by the "ethno-social" source. The surge in ethnicity among Siberian Koreans is caused by the desire to increase the social status of both the group as a whole and its individual representatives. And within the framework of this task, a phenomenon occurs that is characterized by K. V. Chistov as the ability of ethnic self-consciousness to revive the ethnic, especially in the spiritual life of the people.21

Creating national dance ensembles, holding traditional festivals, and opening Korean restaurants serve a consolidating function, but social interests are also behind it.

* * *

Thus, Siberian Koreans are characterized by the preservation of their ethnic identity, despite long-term living in an environment with a different dominant culture. Ethnic identity is inherently hierarchical. The degree of commitment to national roots is most influenced by the ethnic and cultural environment of the respondent.

Russian Koreans in general, and Siberian Koreans in particular, have lost their national language, religious community, and territorial community during their time in Russia. But this did not lead to the loss of their ethnic identity due to the fact that these characteristics were compensated by cultural differences with other ethnic groups and the peculiarities of traditional upbringing. The national identity of Siberian Koreans is also significantly influenced by the interests of raising their status by rallying within an ethnic group. For their sake, the Korean diaspora in Siberia is actively reviving its traditional culture and language.

All this is happening against the background of the Republic of Korea's active activities both on the world stage as a whole and in the sphere of diaspora contacts. Thus, the ethnic identity of Koreans in Russia was formed under the influence of not only the liberalization of attitudes towards Koreans repressed in the Soviet era, but also to a large extent the diaspora policy of South Korea.

However, due to the long-term residence in Russia, the ethnic identity of Russian Koreans is inextricably linked with the Russian civil identity, as evidenced, in particular, by the results of a survey of Siberian Koreans, as well as documents and activities of all-Russian and regional Korean organizations. In other words, members of this ethnic group feel that they are not just" Koreans "or" Russians", but"Russian Koreans". Therefore, it seems that Russian Koreans will not identify with South Korea even if they get closer to it, despite all the efforts of Seoul in the framework of its diaspora policy.

Stefanepko T. G. 1 Etnopsychologiya [Ethnopsychology], Moscow, Institute of Psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Academic Project, 2003, pp. 20-21.

2. Achkasov V. A. 2 Etnicheskaya identichnost ' v situatsiakh obshchestvennogo vybora [Ethnic identity in situations of public choice]. 1999, vol. II, issue 1.

Fullilove M. 3 World Wide Webs: Diasporas and international systems. Sydney, Lowy institute for international policy publication, 2008, p. 3 - 4.

4 Results of the 2010 census / / Information portal of Koreans of the CIS -

4 Demoscope Weekly. Institute of Demography of the National Research University "Higher School of Economics" -

Pak B. D., Bugay P. F. 6 140 years in Russia. Essay on the History of Russian Koreans, Moscow, Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 2004, p. 338.

Lee In D. 7 About the Tomichi Koreans. Memories, facts, and events. Tomsk, STT, 2006, p. 12.

8 List of organizations of CIS Koreans / / Information portal of CIS Koreans-

Pak DB., Bugay N. F. 9 Edict. soch., p. 331.

10 Website of the South Korean Foundation for Foreign Koreans - PageGroup-USER&pagel d=1328006198603&query=

Chong In Sop. 11 Chevedonphopob (Law on Foreign Compatriots). Seoul, Saransengak Publ., 2002, p. 12.

12 Website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Chewedonpho chhuripgukkwa popchok chiwie gwanghan popchok No. 10275 (Law on Entry and Exit of Foreign Compatriots and Their Legal Status) - D9FEB04925695F0023BD70?opendocument.

Gamlen A. 13 Diaspora Engagement Policies: What are they, and what kinds of states use them? // Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, Working Paper No. 32, University of Oxford, 2006 -

14 Ibidem.

Lebedeva N. M. 15 Socio-psychological stability criteria of ethno-cultural groups // ethnoecological Methods of examination. M., Institute of Ethnology and anthropology, 1999, p. 187.

16 Ibid., p. 180.

Drobizheva L. M. 17 Metodologicheskie problemy etnosotsiologicheskikh issledovaniy [Methodological problems of ethnosociological research].

Arutpyunyan Yu. V. 18 Sotsial'no-kul'turnoe razvitie i natsional'noe samosoznanie [Social and cultural development and national identity].

19 Ibid.

20 Ibid., p. 49.

Chistov K. V. 21 Etnicheskaya obshchnost', etnicheskoe soznanie i nekotorye problemy dukhovnoi kul'tury [21 Ethnic community, ethnic consciousness and some problems of spiritual culture].


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