The Displacement of Borders among Russian Koreans in Northeast Asia, Hyun-Gwi Park.pdf
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Over the past two decades of the post-Cold War period, ethnic Koreans have been a small but significant presence in the Russian Far East. However, they remain largely unstudied, as this region tends to fall in a gap between Eurasian and East Asian studies. This is the first monograph in English to investigate the contemporary social life of Koreans in this complex borderland based on extended ethnographic fieldwork. Arriving from northern Korea in the late 19th century, Korean immigrants made the Russian Far East their home as a refuge from endemic poverty in the Chosun Kingdom and later from Japanese colonialism. They developed this far eastern Russian frontier together with Russian settlers and actively participated in building up Soviet socialism. Yet their success in creating a new homeland was shattered when they were forcibly displaced to Central Asia as a part of the 'cleansing' of borders in the 1930s. The impact of this poignant event was so powerful that most studies about Koreans in the former Soviet Union tend to revolve around it. This, in effect, achieves the aim of the Stalinist purge by creating the impression that Koreans are no longer present in the Russian Far East. This book aims to redress this imbalance. It argues that these Koreans were hostages to the contradictions of Russia's internal colonialism and its security-centred posture towards its neighbouring East Asian countries. Through historical and ethnographic research, this book explicates the connecting line of borders across different domains, such as in the assertion of territorial sovereignty, the building-up and subsequent dismantling of Soviet socialism, and the social relationships among the people who have strong historical ties to this borderland. This work provides the foundation for future research into this neglected but critical frontier of Eurasia and is a timely publication in the light of Russia's recent attempts to reclaim its position as a superpower in Eurasia.