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Russia’s Korean-Chinese Are Thriving

Posted January. 13, 2006 05:19,   


“Our nationality is Chinese, we live in Russia, but we are, by blood, Korean people,” says 44-year-old Kim Tae-soo, the president of the Moscow Korean-Chinese Association, which was established last October. “We wish to fulfill our dreams with the Korean people in the eastern lands.”

Korean-Chinese, who have been in and out of Soviet Russia as peddlers since the late 1980s, settled in the Russian Far East and Siberian regions after the fall of the Soviet Union. Now, it is estimated that some 2,000 people are living around Moscow, and tens of thousands of Korean-Chinese are living across Russia.

Recently, Russia and China strengthened their alliance and simplified the visa issuing process, which has made it easier for Korean-Chinese to enter Russia.

Kim, who hails from Haerbin, Heilongjiang, says, “Although China’s economy is growing rapidly, places like Yanbian, where many Korean-Chinese live, are still lagging behind, and the competition has gotten more fierce because of the large population. So many Korean-Chinese are moving to Russia.”

The Korean-Chinese feel that as they are a minority in China, they must fend for themselves in China, and the situation is the same everywhere else. Therefore, they do not fear moving to foreign countries. It is reported that there are already more than 20,000 Korean-Chinese living in the United States.

Just as many Korean-Russians were forced to move to Central Asia some 70 years ago to farm barren lands, Korean-Chinese are finding their livelihoods in the foreign lands of Russia.

Korean-Chinese worked hard labor jobs in markets, construction sites, and restaurants around Moscow, and have built an economic foundation for themselves in the process. Recently, a Korean-Chinese opened a Korean restaurant in the area.

Ki-Hyun Kim kimkihy@donga.com