Koryo Saram is the current self-denomination of Koreans established on the territory of the former Russian Empire and Soviet Union. The present study, based notably on documents preserved in the State Archive of Irkutsk Region, is an historical overview of the constitution of this group in the 1860s and thereafter, through the economic migration from the most destitute northern regions of the Korean peninsula (on this phenomenon, cf. Anatolii Kuzin, Dal’nevostochnye koreitsy: zhizn’ i tragediia sud’by [Far Eastern Koreans: Their Life and Tragic Destiny], Iuzhno-Sakhalinsk, 1993), and the further developments towards assimilation or preservation of national characters according to the density of Korean population on the Pacific Littoral of the Russian Empire. The author examines successively the respective role that were played in the assimilation process by the Russian-language education system (a very gradual one, limited by the essentially military nature of Russian regional administration and its lack of interest in education policy), by the Orthodox Church (mass conversion played a key role for integration into an essentially confessional state, but did not prevent the preservation of traditional beliefs and practices), by economic activity (which drove to the appearance of new skills, and of a capacity of defence of communal interests, for instance during strikes), and by the political sphere (Korean workers of the Littoral endeavoured to struggle against discrimination of “Yellow Faces” in the movements of the revolutionary years 1905-6, whence actively combating after 1910 for the liberation of Korea from Japanese occupation). The bibliography is unfortunately, though predictably limited to a limited set of publications in Russian language.
Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris