Burnt by the SunThe Koreans of the Russian Far East

Burnt by the SunThe Koreans of the Russian Far East

Jon K. Chang

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9780824856786

Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press


This study focuses on two primary arguments. First, it demonstrates how the Koreans of the Russian Far East were continually viewed as a problematic or maligned nationality during the Tsarist and Soviet periods. Second, this study argues that the Soviet state was not free of Russian nationalist, populist and primordial views and influences in their nationalities (national minorities) policies. The aforementioned were the “Tsarist continuities” which blinded the Stalinist regime from seeing the Koreans as loyal citizens. Instead, these influences cast the Koreans as a colonizing element (labor force) with unknowable political loyalties (and therefore, possible fifth columnists). This study found that the Soviet state exerted a tremendous sociopolitical influence on the Korean community primarily through the careful selection, cultivation, and placement of Soviet Korean cadres, informants, and secret police. Additionally, author Jon K. Chang sought to capture the sense of “agency,” initiative, and entrepreneurship that the Koreans added to Soviet life in the Russian Far East. Chang found very few documents of this type in the Soviet archives. Therefore, he went to Central Asia and interviewed over sixty elderly Soviet Korean deportees which he then paired with archival documents to write Burnt by the Sun.