In theory, the Soviet Union offered all nationalities under its borders, at least in principle, cultural and territorial autonomy, education in one’s native language, the right to self-determination and individual rights which promised equality under Soviet law regardless of religion, nationality, place of origin and language. In reality, they found the Koreans on their eastern borders to be worrisome and problematic. Illegal Korean migrants kept coming across Soviet borders pushing the population of approximately 81,000 in 1917 to nearly 200,000 by 1937. How would the Soviet state offer the Koreans the putative legal, cultural and territorial rights under Soviet socialism? Afanasii A. Kim was one of the first Soviet Korean leaders who had to negotiate between serving the state and his community. In the 1930s, the state, its policies and institutions became more repressive due to geo-political threats (Germany, Poland and Japan) on both the eastern and western Soviet borders. What became of Afanasii A. Kim?
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