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Template:Use mdy dates Deportation of Koreans in the Soviet Union, originally conceived in 1926, initiated in 1930, and carried through in 1937, was the first mass transfer of an entire nationality based on their ethnicity to be committed by the Soviet Union.[1] Almost the entire Soviet population of ethnic Koreans (171,781 persons) were forcefully moved from the Russian Far East to unpopulated areas of Kazakhstan in October 1937.[2]


The Korean minority population in the Russian Far East was one of the largest border minorities in the Soviet Union, facing in the 1920s and the 1930s the Japanese-occupied Korea on the other side. This minority had been gradually building up since the second half of the 19th century, as poor Korean peasants migrated across the border in search for land and livelihoods.[3] The Korean immigration increased dramatically during the early 1920s, after Imperial Japan occupied Korea. In 1917–1926, the Soviet Korean population tripled to nearly 170,000 people, and by 1926, Koreans represented more than a quarter of the rural population of the Vladivostok region. Under the circumstances, the official Soviet policy of national minorities prescribed formation of a Korean autonomous territory (the proposed Korean ASSR) for the large Korean community in the Russian Far East. This option was debated in Moscow but finally rejected in 1925 because of opposition from the local Russian population fearing competition for land, as well as the political goal of maintaining a peaceful stance toward Imperial Japan. As a result, a contradictory policy emerged. On the one hand, smaller Korean national territories were authorized, and Korean-language schools and newspapers were set up, and the Party Line represented Koreans as a model Soviet national minority contrasted with the Korean population suffering under the yoke of Japanese occupation across the border. On the other hand, the central government confirmed a secret plan (adopted on December 6, 1926) to resettle half of the Soviet Koreans (88,000 people) north of Khabarovsk on suspicions of disloyalty to the Soviet Union. This resettlement plan was not implemented before 1930 for a variety of political and budgetary reasons, however. The first forced transfer of Korean immigrants to the north, excepting those who were explicitly proven loyal, began in 1930, initially in small amounts (by 1931, when the plan was officially abandoned, only 500 Korean families (2,500 individuals) had been resettled in the north.[4] ); sometimes, this is considered the first case of ethnic cleansing by the Soviet Union. Large-scale resettlement was delayed until 1937 out of the fear that Japan might consider it casus belli.

Planning the forced relocation

The resettlement plans were revived with new vigor in August 1937, ostensibly with the purpose of suppressing "the penetration of the Japanese espionage into the Far Eastern Krai". From September to October 1937, the Soviet authorities deported tens of thousands of persons of Korean origin from the Russian Far East to Soviet Central Asia. More than 172,000 Koreans were deported from the border regions of the Russian Far East as part of Joseph Stalin's policy of systematic population transfer. Its legal basis was the joint decree #1428-326сс of the USSR Sovnarkom and VKP(b) Central Committee of August 21, 1937, "About Deportation of the Korean Population from the Border Regions of the Far Eastern Krai" ("О выселении корейского населения из пограничных районов Дальневосточного края"), signed by Stalin and Molotov.[5] The justification was "to suppress the penetration of the Japanese espionage into the Far Eastern Krai". For the implementation of the decision, Genrikh Lyushkov was transferred from Rostov and assigned chief of the Far Eastern Krai NKVD. Soviet Koreans were resettled to Kazakh SSR and Uzbek SSR (in the latter case including Karakalpak ASSR).[6][7]

The deportation

The deportation was preceded by a typical Soviet scenario of political repression: falsified trials of local party leaders accused of insurrection, accusations of plans of the secession of the Far Eastern Krai, local party purges, and articles in Pravda about the Japanese espionage in the Far East.[8]

The deportation was executed by NKVD Troikas of several levels — oblast troikas, raion troikas, and "group" troikas (кустовая тройка) — under strict monitoring of deadlines. Hundreds of party functionaries were purged and repressed for failures in this operation.

The deportation was performed in three batches, graded by the remoteness to the border; the first was the Posyet raion and "raions adjacent to Grodekovo". The deportees were transported by railway trains of about 50 carriages each, with 25–30 people per carriage. Travel to the destination took between 30 and 40 days.

Nikolai Yezhov reported the completion of the deportation of Koreans from Far Eastern Krai on October 25, 1937. In total, 36,442 families counting 171,781 persons were reported to be resettled. The Koreans remaining in Kamchatka, fishermen in the sea, and those on business trips were to be deported in an additional train by November 1.[9]


  • The White Book about Deportations of Korean Population in Russia in 30-40s (Белая книга о депортации корейского населения России в 30-40-х годах) Moscow, 1992 (vol. 1), 1997 (vol. 2), compiled by Li Woo He (Vladimir Fedorovich Lee, Ли Владимир Фёдорович, Ли У Хэ) and Kim Young Woong (Ким Ен Ун, 김영웅, the name is often transliterated as "Kim Yen Un" from the Russian variant "Ким Ен Ун").
  1. Otto Pohl, Ethnic cleansing in the USSR, 1937–1949, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999, pp. 9–20; partially viewable on Google Books
  2. First deportation and the "Effective manager", Novaya gazeta, by Pavel Polyan and Nikolai Pobol
  3. A.N. Li, Korean diaspora in Kazakhstan: Koryo saram, retrieved November 5, 2008 Template:Ru icon
  4. Martin, Terry (1998). The Origins of Soviet Ethnic Cleansing. The Journal of Modern History 70 (4), 813–861.
  5. A.N. Li, Korean diaspora in Kazakhstan: Koryo saram, accessed November 5, 2008 Template:Ru icon
  6. German Kim, "Korean diaspora in Kazakhstan", Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido University, 1989
  7. "History of deportation of Far Eastern Koreans to Karakalpakstan (1937–1938)" Template:Ru icon
  8. Pavel Polyan, "The Great Terror and deportation policy", Demoscope Weekly, No. 313-314, December 10–31, 2007 Template:Ru icon
  9. German Kim, "Preparation and carrying out of the deportation of Koreans"were somehow unapropriate prior to their unsesebility. (Подготовка и осуществление депортации корейцев) Template:Ru icon

ko:고려인의 강제 이주 ru:Депортация корейцев в СССР

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