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The Koryoin people’s `unification project`

Posted August. 05, 2014 04:41,   


This year marks the 150th anniversary of Koryoin’s migration to Russia. The Koryoin people refer to ethnic Koreans living in the former Soviet Union. Some 60 Koreans from Gyongwon, Hamgyong Province, crossed the Duman River and settled in Tizinkhe village in the Maritime Province of Siberia in 1863. It was the country`s first group migration abroad, which was 39 years ahead of the agricultural migration to Hawaii. It is the 151st anniversary this year according to documents, but the Koryoin people celebrate this year as the 150th anniversary based on the year of 1864 when Russia officially recognized their migration.

The automobile rally team hoping for the reunification of the Korean Peninsula is currently crossing the Far East of Russia as a project created to celebrate their migration. The team left Moscow on July 7 and passed Siberia and the Maritime Province of Siberia and will enter North Korea on Aug. 9. Some 30 Koryoin people who are carried by 12 cars will pass Najin, Wonsan, and Pyongyang in North Korea and then cross the Military Demarcation Line to arrive in Seoul on Aug. 16. It is a long journey of 15,000 kilometers. Vasilij Cho, president of the Koryoin People’s Association, said, “The long drive will be a stimulus to the reunification and addressing the inter-Korean issues.”

The Koryoin’s history is part of Koreans’ sad history. The Maritime Province of Siberia had been a forward operating base of Korean independence activists during the Japanese colonial rule. The sorrow of the people who lost their country is engraved in the memorial stone of patriot Lee Sang-seol in Ussuriysk: “I die without seeing my fatherland’s independence. How can Koryoin go back to their country? Please burn my body and my keepsake and sprinkle the ash into the sea. Don’t have a memorial rite for me.” Later in 1937, Joseph Stalin, the sole leader of the Soviet Union, forcibly moved the Koryoin people to Central Asia.

North Korea has allowed the rally team’s crossing North Korea and passing the Military Demarcation Line on condition that the team participates in its Aug. 15 event in Pyongyang. North Korea cannot ignore the aspiration of the Koryoin hoping for reconciliation between the two Koreas. When the rally team arrives in Seoul, it will further continue its drive to Busan with some 100 South Koreans. Hopefully, the project initiated by the descendants of the Koryoin people hoping for reunification can help address the strained relationship between the two Koreas. Moreover, the Incheon Asian Games in which North Korea intends to participate will be held in September this year.