Ethnic group
|group= Koryo-saram
ref1=cite conference|last=Ki|first=Kwangseo|title=구소련 한인사회의 역사적 변천과 현실 [Korean society in the former Soviet Union: historical development and realities] |booktitle = Proceedings of 2002 Conference of the Association for the Study of Overseas Koreans (ASOK)|publisher=Association for the Study of Overseas Koreans|date=2002-12-15|location=Seoul]
langs=Russian, Koryo-mar
rels=Orthodox Christianity, Buddhism, Protestantism, otherscite paper|author=Schlyter, Bridget|url=http://orient4.orient.su.se/centralasia/FocasWien.html|title=Korean Business and Culture in Former Soviet Central Asia|publisher=Forum for Central Asian Studies|location=Stockholm|accessdate=2006-12-11 See footnote 10]
related-c=Koreans, Sakhalin Koreans

Koryo-saram ( _ru. Корё сарам; Hangul: 고려사람) is the name which ethnic Koreans in the post-Soviet states use to refer to themselves. Approximately 500,000 ethnic Koreans reside in the former Soviet Union, primarily in the now-independent states of Central Asia. There are also large Korean communities in southern Russia (around Volgograd), the Caucasus, and southern Ukraine. These communities can be traced back to the Koreans who were living in the Russian Far East during the late 19th century.

There is also a separate ethnic Korean community on the island of Sakhalin, typically referred to as Sakhalin Koreans. Some may identify as Koryo-saram, but many do not. Unlike the communities on the Russian mainland, which consist mostly of immigrants from the late 1800s and early 1900s, the ancestors of the Sakhalin Koreans came as immigrants from Kyongsang and Jeolla provinces in the late 1930s and early 1940s, forced into service by the Japanese government to work in coal mines in Sakhalin (then known as Karafuto Prefecture) in order to fill labour shortages caused by World War II.cite news|last=Ban|first=Byung-yool|title=Koreans in Russia: Historical Perspective|date=2004-09-22|accessdate=2006-11-20|url=http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/nation/200409/kt2004092218583111950.htm|publisher=Korea Times]


The word "Koryo" in "Koryo-saram" originated from the word Goryeo (Dynasty) from which "Korea" was derived. The name "Soviet Korean" was also used, more frequently before the collapse of the Soviet Union.cite book|last=Pohl|first=J. Otto|title=Ethnic Cleansing in the USSR, 1937-1949|pages=p. 18|publisher=Greenwood|id=ISBN 0313309213|quote=One of the most famous Soviet Koreans was Viktor Tsoi. A popular rock star in the USSR, Tsoi was an ethnic Korean whose father and grandfather endured the trials of exile ... Tsoi's success is symptomatic of the social progress Soviet Koreans made between the 1950s and the 1980s.] Russians may also lump Koryo-saram under the general label "koreytsy" ( _ru. корейцы); however, this usage makes no distinctions between ethnic Koreans of the local nationality and the Korean nationals (citizens of South and North Koreas).

In Standard Korean, the term "Koryo-saram" is typically used to refer to historical figures from the Goryeo dynasty; [See, for instance, the [http://ko.wikipedia.org/wiki/%EB%B6%84%EB%A5%98:%EA%B3%A0%EB%A0%A4_%EC%82%AC%EB%9E%8C Koryo-saram category on the Korean wikipedia] ] to avoid ambiguity, Korean speakers use a word "Goryeoin" ( _ko. 고려인; Hanja: 高麗人, meaning the same as "Koryo-saram") to refer to ethnic Koreans in the post-Soviet states. However, the Sino-Korean morpheme "-in" (인) is not productive in Koryo-mar, the dialect spoken by Koryo-saram, and as a result, only a few (mainly those who have studied Standard Korean) refer to themselves as "Goryeoin"; instead, Koryo-saram has come to be the preferred term.cite web|last=King|first=Ross|coauthor=German Kim|title=East Rock Institute Introduction|url=http://www.koryosaram.freenet.kz/update1/east-rock-intro.doc|format=Microsoft Word|accessdate=2006-11-20]


Immigration to the Russian Far East and Siberia

The 1800s saw the decline of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. A small population of wealthy elite owned the farmlands in the country, and poor peasants found it difficult to survive. Koreans leaving the country in this period were obliged to move toward Russia, as the border with China was sealed by the Qing Dynasty. Many peasants considered Siberia to be a land where they could lead better lives and they subsequently migrated there. As early as 1863, migration had already begun, with 13 households recorded near Novukorut Bay. These numbers rose dramatically, and by 1869 Koreans composed 20% of the population of the Maritime Province. [Lee (2000), p. 7.] Prior to the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railway, Koreans outnumbered Russians in the Russian Far East, and the local governors encouraged them to naturalize.Lee (2000), p. 8.] The 1897 Russian Empire Census found 26,005 Korean speakers (16,225 men and 9,780 women) in the whole of Russia, while a 1902 survey showed 312,541 Koreans living in the Russian Far East alone. [cite web|url=http://demoscope.ru/weekly/ssp/rus_lan_97.php|publisher=Demoscope.ru|title=Первая всеобщая перепись населения Российской Империи 1897 г. (General Population Census of the Russian Empire in 1897)|accessdate=2007-05-20] Korean neighborhoods could be found in various cities and Korean farms were all over the countryside.

In the early 1900s, both Russia and Korea came into conflict with Japan. Following the end of the Russo-Japanese War in 1907, Russia enacted an anti-Korean law at the behest of Japan, under which the land of Korean farmers was confiscated and Korean laborers were laid off. [Lee (2000), p. 14.] At the same time, Russia continued to serve as sanctuary for the Korean independence movement. Korean nationalists and communists escaped to Siberia, the Russian Far East, and Manchuria. With the October Revolution and the rise of communism in East Asia, Siberia was home to Soviet Koreans that organised in armies like the Righteous Army to oppose Japanese forces. In 1919, the March First Movement for Korean independence was supported by Korean leaders who gathered in Vladivostok's Sinhanchon (literally, "New Korean Village") neighborhood. This neighborhood became a center for nationalist activities, including arms supply; the Japanese attacked it on April 4, 1920, leaving hundreds dead.Lee (2000), p. 15.]

Deportation to Central Asia

Between 1937 and 1939, the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin deported over 172,000 Koreans to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, on the official premise that the Koreans might act as spies for Japan. Many community leaders were purged and executed, and it would be over a decade and a half before Koryo-saram would be again permitted to travel outside of Central Asia. Up until the era of glasnost, it was not permitted to speak openly of the deportations. The deportees cooperated to build irrigation works and start rice farms; within three years, they had recovered their original standard of living.Lee (2000), p. 141.] The events of this period led to the formation of a cohesive identity among the Korean deportees. However, as the Korean language was prohibited for decades, subsequent generations lost the use of the Korean language.


Scholars estimated that as of 2002, roughly 470,000 Koryo-saram were living in the Commonwealth of Independent States, including 198,000 in Uzbekistan, 125,000 in Russia, 105,000 in Kazakhstan, 19,000 in Kyrgyzstan, 9,000 in Ukraine, 6,000 in Tajikistan, 3,000 in Turkmenistan, and 5,000 in other constituent republics.


The 2002 census gave a population of 148,556 Koreans in Russia, of which 75,835 were male and 72,721 female. [cite press release
title = Russian Census
publisher = Федеральная служба государственной статистики
date = 2002-10-09
url = http://www.perepis2002.ru/ct/doc/TOM_04_01.xls
accessdate = 2006-07-26
] About one-fourth reside in Siberia and the Russian Far East; the Korean population there trace their roots back to a variety of sources. Aside from roughly 33,000 CIS nationals, mostly migrants retracing in reverse the 1937 deportation of their ancestors, between 4,000 and 12,000 North Korean migrant labourers can be found in the region. Smaller numbers of South Koreans and ethnic Koreans from China have also come to the region to settle, invest, and/or engage in cross-border trade.cite paper|last=Lee|first=Jeanyoung|title=Migration, Ethnicity and Citizenship: Ethnic-Korean Returnees in the Russian Far East|url=http://www.asiacultureforum.org/pdf/multi/multi_0202_Jeanyoung%20Lee.pdf|year=2006|accessdate=2006-11-23|publisher=Inha University|format=PDF]

Other European countries

In the 2001 census in Ukraine 12,711 people defined themselves as ethnic Koreans, up from 8,669 in 1989. Of these only 17.5% gave Korean as their first language. The vast majority (76%) stated their mother tongue was Russian, whilst 5.5% stated Ukrainian.Fact|date=July 2007 The largest concentrations can be found in Kharkov, Kiev, Odessa, Nikolaev, Cherkassy, Lvov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhie, and Crimea. The largest ethnic representative body, the Association of Koreans in Ukraine, is located in Kharkov, where roughly 150 Korean families reside; the first Korean language school was opened in 1996 under their direction. [cite journal|url=http://lgi.osi.hu/ethnic/csdb/doc/Apavlenko1.doc|last=Pavlenko|first=Valentina Nikolaevna|title=Establishing a boarding school for Koreans in Ukraine|Local Government and Public Service Reform Initiative Case Studies|issue=30|format=Microsoft Word]

Central Asia

The majority of Koryo-saram in Central Asia reside in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Korean culture in Kazakhstan is centered in Almaty, the former capital. For much of the 20th century, this was the only place in Central Asia where a Korean language newspaper (the "Koryo Shinmun") and Korean language theater were in operation.Lee (2000), p. 122.] The Korean population here was sheltered by the local governor from the restrictions placed on them elsewhere.Fact|date=May 2007 The censuses of Kazakhstan recorded 96,500 Koryo-saram in 1939, 74,000 in 1959, 81,600 in 1970, 92,000 in 1979, 100,700 in 1989, and 99,700 in 1999. [cite paper|url=http://www.ecsocman.edu.ru/images/pubs/2005/06/13/0000213102/010Alekseenko.pdf |format=PDF|last=Alekseenko|first=Aleksandr Nikolaevich|title=«Республика в зеркале переписей населения» ("Republic in the Mirror of the Population Census")|journal=Sotsiologicheskie Issledovaniia|year=2001|issue=12|pages=pp. 58-62]

The population in Uzbekistan is largely scattered in rural areas. This population has suffered in recent years from linguistic handicaps, as the Koryo-saram there spoke Russian but not Uzbek. After the independence of Uzbekistan, many lost their jobs due to being unable to speak the new national language. Some emigrated to the Russian Far East, but found life difficult there as well.Lee (2000), p. 143.]

There is also a small Korean community in Tajikistan. Mass settlement of Koreans in the country began during the late 1950s and early 1960s, after the loosening of restrictions on their freedom of movement which had previously kept them confined to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Pull factors for migration included rich natural resources and a relatively mild climate. Their population grew to 2,400 in 1959, 11,000 in 1979, and 13,000 in 1989; most lived in the capital Dushanbe, with smaller concentrations in Qurghonteppa and Khujand. Like Koreans in other parts of Central Asia, they generally possessed higher incomes compared to members of other ethnic groups. However, with the May 1992 onset of civil war in Tajikistan, many fled the country entirely; by 1996, their population had fallen by over half to 6,300 people. [cite paper|last=Back|first=Tae Hyeon|title=The social reality faced by ethnic Koreans in Central Asia|publisher=Department of Korean Studies, Bishkek Humanities University|url=http://world.lib.ru/k/kim_o_i/ak10.shtml|year=2004|accessdate=2007-03-26] Most are engaged in agriculture and retail business. [cite news|url=http://www.donga.com/fbin/moeum?n=dstory$i_21&a=v&l=2&id=199812130104|title=타지키스탄 내전과 한국교민 (The Tajikistan Civil War and ethnic Koreans)|last=Choe|first=Yeong-ha|publisher=Donga Ilbo|date=1998-12-13|accessdate=2007-03-26] Violence continued even after the end of the civil war; in 2000, suspected Hizb ut-Tahrir members exploded a bomb in a Korean Christian church in Dushanbe, killing 9 and wounding 30. [cite conference|title=Strategic Adjustments and Countermeasures against Extremist Forces of Central Asian Countries after 9/11|last=Dong|first=Xiaoyang|coauthors=Su, Chang|booktitle=Proceedings of the Central Asia Symposium, Monterey, California|publisher=U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command|location=Fort Monroe, Virginia|date=2005-08-07|accessdate=2007-03-26|url=http://leav-www.army.mil/fmso/documents/New-Great-Game.pdf|format=PDF|pages=pp. 45-77]

Return migration to Korea

As many as 10,000 Uzbekistanis work in South Korea, a sizable portion of them being ethnic Koreans. It is estimated that remittances from South Korea to Uzbekistan exceed $100 million annually.cite news|last=Baek|first=Il-hyun|title=Scattered Koreans turn homeward|date=2005-09-14|publisher=Joongang Daily|accessdate=2006-11-27|url=http://joongangdaily.joins.com/200509/14/200509142129404979900091009101.html]


After their arrival in Central Asia, the Koryo-saram quickly established a way of life different from that of neighboring peoples. They set up irrigation works and became known throughout the region as rice farmers. They interacted little with the nomadic peoples around them, and focused on education. Although they soon ceased to wear traditional Korean clothing, they adapted Western-style dress rather than the clothing worn by the Central Asian peoples. Lee (2000), p. 40.]

Koryo-saram have preserved the Korean cuisine particularly well. The cuisine of the Koryo-saram is closest to that of the Hamgyong provinces in North Korea, and is dominated by meat soups and salty side dishes.Lee (2000), p. 249.] The Koryo-saram are particularly known among neighboring peoples for their "bosintang" (dog-meat soup), which is served to honored guests and at restaurants.

The ritual life of the Koryo-saram community has changed in various respects. Marriages have taken on the Russian style. At traditional Korean funerals, the name of the dead is written in "hanja", or Chinese characters; however, as hardly anyone is left among the Koryo-saram who can write in "hanja", the name is generally written in hangul only. On the other hand, the rituals for the first birthday and sixtieth anniversary have been preserved in their traditional form.Lee (2000), p. 250.]

Personal and family names

Many Korean surnames, when Cyrillized, are spelled and pronounced slightly differently from the romanisations used in the U.S. and the resulting common pronunciations, as can be seen in the table at right.

Furthermore, Korean naming practises and Russian naming practises conflict in several important ways; Koryo-saram have resolved each of these conflicts in a different way, in some cases favouring Russian patterns, in others, Korean patterns.


After the first generation of settlers, Koryo-saram tended to abandon traditional Korean naming practices and follow Russian naming patterns, using a Russian given name, Russian-style patronymic (derived from the father's name, regardless of whether his name was Russian or Korean), and Korean surname. For example, Kim Jong-il was registered as Yuri Irsenovich Kim (Юрий Ирсенович Ким) in Soviet records, where the "Irsen" in the patronymic was the Cyrillization of the given name of his father Kim Il-sung. [cite news|url=http://nk.chosun.com/english/news/news.html?ACT=detail&res_id=7283|date=2002-08-22|accessdate=2007-02-19|publisher=The Chosun Ilbo|title=Sergeyevna Remembers Kim Jong Il|last=Chung|first=Byoung-sun] [cite news|url=http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1671983|publisher=National Public Radio|date=2004-02-12|accessdate=2007-02-19|title=A Visit to Kim Jong Il's Russian Birthplace|last=Sheets|first=Lawrence] Succeeding generations tended to have both a Russian given name and a Russian patronymic.Chang, Jon. "Central Asia or Bust". Koream Journal, Feb 2005. Chang noted that in a Korean cemetery in Uzbekistan, most of the gravestones were enscribed only in Cyrillic, and most of the deceased had a patronymic derived from a Russian given name.] This differs from the pattern typical in the US, where Korean American parents often register their children with a Korean given name as their legal middle name (e.g. Daniel Dae Kim, Harold Hongju Koh).

Surnames of married women

Another area in which traditional Korean naming practices clashed with Russian custom was in the use of surnames by married couples. In Russia, a wife traditionally takes her husband's surname after marriage, whereas Korean women retain their original surname even after marriage. In this regard, the Koryo-saram appear to have kept to Korean tradition much more closely, rather than adopting the Russian practice; for example, out of 18 ethnic Korean babies born in the Kalinin district of Alma Ata, Kazakhstan in 1980, 10 were to parents with different surnames, possibly indicating the extent of this practice. Kim, German Nikolaevich. "Names of Koryo-saram." Unpublished. Translated to English by Steven Sunwoo Lee and posted on his website; retrieved from Google cache [http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:jxIOhk8PB7oJ:www.koryosaram.freenet.kz/update1/names.doc&hl=zh-TW&gl=hk&ct=clnk&cd=1 here] ]

Declining for gender

Russian surnames are typically declined to indicate the gender of their bearer, while Korean surnames are not, as the Korean language lacks grammatical gender. In the former Soviet countries, many inhabitants, notably the Turkic peoples, had prefixes "ov" or "ova" added to their surnames; examples include presidents Nursultan Nazarbayev and Islom Karimov. However, Koryo-saram names do not follow this practice.

Generation names

In Korea, it is common for siblings and cousins of the same generation to have one hanja syllable in common among all of their names; this is known as "dollimja". Russians have no equivalent practise. Koryo-saram often do not have Korean names, because of a poor command of the Korean language among their relatives; however, birth records show that many siblings have been given Russian names starting with the same letters of the alphabet by their parents, indicating that the practise of "dollimja" has continued in a localised form.


Due to deportation and the continuing urbanization of the population after 1952, the command of Korean among the Koryo-saram has continued to fall. This contrasts with other more rural minority groups such as the Dungan, who have maintained a higher level of proficiency in their ethnic language. In 1989, the most recent year for which data are available, the number of Russian mother tongue speakers among the Koryo-saram population overtook that of Korean mother tongue speakers.

The dialect spoken by Koryo-saram is closer to the Hamgyŏng dialect than to the Seoul dialect, though somewhat mutated over the generations. Many of those who retain some command of Korean report difficulties communicating with South Koreans.

Relations with Korean expatriates

Probably as a consequence of ethnic ties, South Korea was the second largest import partner of Uzbekistan, after Russia, and one of its largest foreign investors. The car manufacturer Daewoo set up a joint venture (August 1992) and a factory in Asaka, Andizhan province, in Uzbekistan.

The 2005 South Korean film "Wedding Campaign", directed by Hwang Byung-kook, portrays two aging bachelor farmers from rural villages who hope to find wives. Having no romantic prospects in Korea, they opt to go through an international mail-order bride agency, which sends them to Uzbekistan and tries to match them with Korean women there. [cite news
last = Kim
first = Tae-jong
title = Farmer Looks for Love in Upcoming 'Wedding Campaign'
publisher = The Korea Times
date = 2005-08-21
url = http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/culture/200508/kt2005082120230411710.htm
accessdate = 2006-10-16

Prominent Koryo-saram

In academia

*Viktor Aleksandrovich Em, Professor, Doctor of Economy, Head of Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Melioration. Few times held conferences in Seoul, Author of over hundreds books of economy and Memories about Soviet Union.

In business

*Vladimir Kim, billionaire businessman from Kazakhstan, of Korean descent.

In cultural fields

*Alexander Kan, North Korea-born Russian-language fiction writer, born in Pyongyang, North Korea [http://world.lib.ru/k/kim_o_i/a18.shtml] [http://google.com/search?q=cache:UmOJdgHsWJYJ:umich.edu/~iinet/ksp/pdf/Korean_KSP_news_06f.pdf+%22Alexander+Kan%22] .
*Anatoly Andreevich Kim, Russian-language fiction writer [http://www.hronos.km.ru/biograf/bio_k/kim_anatol.html] .
*German Kim, head of the Department of Korean Studies at Al-Farabi University, Kazakhstan, and a leading scholar in the history of Koryo saram.
*Marina Kim, TV news anchor and journalist from Kyrgyzstan.
*Roman Kim, one of the top contestants on Kazakhstani entertainment programme SuperStar KZ.
*Yuliy Kim, singer, songwriter.
*Dragon Lee (Vyachaslev Yaksysnyi), actor and practitioner of Taekwondo and hapkido, born in North Korea.
*Nikolai Shin, Uzbekistani painter.
*Lavrenti Son, Russian and Korean-language playwright.
*Anita Tsoi, pop singer.
*Viktor Tsoi, son of a Koryo-saram father and a Russian mother, lead singer of the Russian band Kino and a major figure in the development of the Soviet rock scene in the 1980s.

In politics

*Vitaly Fen, Uzbekistan's ambassador to South Korea since November 12, 1999.
*Valery Kan, the youngest person ever elected to the Ussuriysk Duma.
*Alexandra Kim, the first Korean communist.
*Kim Byeong Hwa (Ким Пен Хва /김병화), twice Hero of Socialist Labor and four times Order of Lenin recipient [http://kimfound.ru/biographeng.php] .
*Georgy Vladimirovich Kim, former Minister of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan (January 29, 2002ndash February 25, 2003). Now deputy Prosecutor General – Chairman of the Committee on Legal Statistics and Special Accounting of the Republic of Kazakhstan [http://www.procuror.kz/?lang=en&sid=204&pid=103&iid=15&type=left] .
*Kim Gyong Chun (金擎天/김경천), leading anti-White Army partisan leader in Siberia during the Russian Civil War [http://www.kimsoft.com/2001/abook02.htm] .
*Kim Jong-il, leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, born in Vyatskoye.
*Mikhail Kim, delegate to the 17th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union [http://koryosaram.net/about_film.html] .
*Aleksandr Pavlovich Min, Soviet military captain. Once Hero of the Soviet Union and Order of Lenin recipient [http://arirang.ru/veterans/min_ap.htm] [http://warheroes.ru/hero/hero.asp?Hero_id=2670] .
*Boris Aleksandrovich Yugay, deputy Minister of Defence of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan [http://arirang.ru/biografy/yugai_b.htm] [http://mil.kg/en/command] .

In sport

*Mikhail An, Soviet international footballer.
*Nellie Kim, Olympic gold medal gymnast, born in Shurab, Tajikistan to a Korean father and Tatar mother.
*Kostya Tszyu, Australian boxer of Russian, Korean and Mongol descent, born in Serov, Russia.



*cite book|title=Overseas Koreans|author=Lee Kwang-kyu|publisher=Jimoondang|location=Seoul|year=2000|id=ISBN 89-88095-18-9

ee also

*South Korea-Russia relations
*Russians in Korea
*Dungan, the Turkic name for Hui Chinese who settled in Central Asia.
*Workers' Party of Korea, whose predecessors were founded by Korean nationalists in exile in the Soviet Union.

External links

*ru icon [http://akk.kz Association of Koreans in Kazakhstan]
*ru icon [http://ksearu.org Association of Scientific and Technological Societies Koreans (ANTOK)]
*ru icon [http://arirang.ru CIS Koreans Information Web-Site of ARIRANG.RU]
*ru icon [http://koresaram.ru Kore Saram — about Russian-speaking Koreans.]
*ru icon [http://world.lib.ru/k/kim_o_i/indexdate.shtml Lib.Ru: the Koreans]
*ru icon [http://koryoplanet.narod.ru Tashkent Representation of the Institute of Asian Culture and Development (TP IAKR)] — an Association of Koreans in Karakalpakstan.
* [http://icfks.narod.ru/IndexEN.htm International Center for Korean Studies of Lomonosov Moscow State University]
* [http://www.ntokaxak.kz/index_eng.html Korean Scientific and Engineering Society (KAHAK)]
* [http://koryosaram.net Koryo Saram: the Unreliable People (documentary film)]
* [http://www.sslee.freenet.kz/projectinformation.htm Koryo Saram Resource of the Central Asian Fulbright Project]
* [http://www.hum.uit.no/a/trond/sintr.html Soviet Census data analyzed by mother tongue and second language, in English]

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