An Identity In Limbo For Post-Soviet Koreans
A mass deportation decades ago brought thousands of Korean immigrants to Central Asia. Now their culture is in danger of vanishing
In the 1860s, Czarist Russia opened up the virtually uninhabitated Far East for settlement, welcoming waves of destitue farmers from the neighboring northern Korean peninsula.
The group quietly flourished while their homeland was suffering from ongoing aggressions from Japan, which eventually annexed Korea in 1910. But in 1937, as Soviet-Japanese border conflicts grew, Stalin became wary of Koreans spying for Japan and ordered their deportation from the Far East to Soviet Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, where they were expected to start collective farms.
Overnight, tens of thousands of Koreans were told to pack their belongings and depart on windowless cattle trains. The over 4,000-mile journey during Siberia’s harsh winter was bone-shattering. The exiles soon found out that promised building materials and cash assistance