Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Migration of Russian-Koreans from Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan, 1937-1959

Recently I have been reading a lot about Stalin's 1937 deportation of the Russian-Koreans from the Soviet Far East to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. One thing that I noticed is that the initial pattern of settlement in Central Asia was the reverse of what it became later and still is today. That is originally there were many more Russian-Koreans in Kazakhstan than in Uzbekistan. Whereas today there are considerably more Russian-Koreans in Uzbekistan than in Kazakhstan.

The original deportation of the Russian-Koreans to Central Asia favored Kazakhstan over Uzbekistan as a destination by a significant margin. Between 9 September and 25 October 1937, the NKVD forcibly removed 171,781 Russian-Koreans from the Soviet Far East (Li and Kim, doc. 40, pp. 103-104 and doc. 52, pp. 114-115). The Stalin regime initially resettled 95,256 of these deportees in Kazakhstan and 76,525 in Uzbekistan (Li and Kim, doc. 52, pp. 114-115). An NKVD count of Russian-Koreans in Kazakhstan taken in 1943, however, could only verify the continued presence of 45,905 of the deportees in the republic (Bugai, doc. 14, pp. 31-32). Obviously this number is incomplete, but the reduction of the Russian-Korean population in Kazakhstan since 1937 was quite real. The Soviet census in 1959 recorded 139,000 Russian-Koreans in Uzbekistan and only 74,000 in Kazakhstan (Ian Matley in Allworth, p. 110). These numbers indicate a significant migration of Russian-Koreans from Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan as well as the possibility of higher mortality rates and lower fertility rates in Kazakhstan than in Uzbekistan among the nationality.

It appears that the authorities in Uzbekistan were much better than those in Kazakhstan in providing grain promised as compensation for grain left behind in the Soviet Far East to deported Russian-Koreans (Li and Kim, doc. 82-a, p. 169). Thus Russian-Koreans living in Kazakhstan often moved to join relatives that had been sent to Uzbekistan where material conditions were in many cases better. This factor seems to account for the fact that net internal migration by Russian-Koreans in Central Asia flowed from Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan.


N.F. Bugai, ed., Iosif Stalin - Lavrentiiu Berii: "Ikh nado deportirovat'" : Dokumenty, fakty, komentarii (Moscow: "Druzhba narodov", 1992).

Li U He and Kim En Un, eds., Belaia kniga: O deportatsii koreiskogo naseleniia Rossii v 30-40x godakh (Moscow: "Interprask", 1992).

Ian Murray Matley, "The Population and the Land" in Edward Allworth, ed., Central Asia: 130 Years of Russian Dominance, A Historical Overview, 3rd Edition (Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, 1994).

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