When Russia ruled: Education and social mobility of Soviet Korean children in Central Asia

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The Russian-Korean minorities in Central Asia are descendants of the peninsular Korean migrants to the Russian Far East between the 1860s and the 1920s, and who were then deported by Stalin to Central Asia in October 1937. This paper reports a diaspora study with a historiography of agency, education and social mobility of the Korean ethnic minority people in Kyrgyzstan. Historiography or critical analysis of history is a methodology of its own standing in comparative education. The history of education overlaps with comparative education, and all historiographical works?such as interpretation and re-interpretation of events and contexts?are essentially comparative (Sweeting, 2014). Using original data from semi-structured interviews conducted in Kyrgyzstan, the paper offers oral histories by living protagonists. The research questions were: (1) Who are the Korean ethnic minority people in Kyrgyzstan? (2) What has been and what is their situation in the former Soviet republic?with regard to agency and education? The main significance of the presentation is to the overall panel topic on the education of the Asian diaspora within Asia. It is argued that the ius sanguinis policy and nationalism led to marginalization of the non-Kyrgyzs minorities. These policies in turn have forced the Soviet Korean youth to devalue their traditional beliefs that assigns a strong correlation between education and upward social mobility. Amidst the paradox of a globalizing yet anti-multicultural post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan, Soviet Korean youth have reported to have no alternatives but to embrace the existing educational system with signs of social struggle and glaring corruption in education and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


Social Mobility
Central Asia
comparative education
national minority
history of education
Far East
oral history
educational system


Park, J. (2016, March). When Russia ruled: Education and social mobility of Soviet Korean children in Central Asia. Paper presented at the Comparative and International Education Society 2016 Conference (CIES 2016): Sixty Years of comparative and international education: Taking stock and looking forward, Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre, Vancouver, Canada.