A bit on South Korea and the Korean diaspora in Kazakhstan

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I just remembered these two pictures that I took back in 2007 that involved gathering books to send to overseas Koreans in Kazakhstan; the sign was placed at the edge of a park (I'll show the location below after the pictures) and looked like this:

Here's what it means:

  • 카자흐스탄 거주교포들에게 우리민족의 마음을 보냅시다 <-- Let's send our heart to our people living in Kazakhstan

  • 해외동포를 위한 도서기증 운동에 참여하세요 <-- Please participate in the book donation for overseas Koreans

  • 기증기간 : 2007.01.10 ~ 2007.02.28 <-- Donation period 기증장소: 강남구립국제교육원1층 또는 각동사무소 <-- Donation area: Gangnam-gu International Education Centre 1F, or offices per neighborhood (dong, smaller than a gu)
  • 기증대상: 도서 (헌책, 새책 불문 / 그림책부터 전문서적까지 전종류 <-- Donation items: books (new or second hand / all types from picture books to specialized publications)

  • 주최: (사) 해외동포책보내기운동협의회 <-- Sponsor: Book-sending council for overseas Koreans
  • 후원: 강남구, 재외동포재단, 주한카자흐스탄대사관, 매일경제사 <-- Support: Gangnam-gu, Overseas Koreans Foundation, Embassy of Kazakhstan in Korea, Maeil Business (newspaper)
  • 문의: (사) 해외동포책보내기운동협의회 [Tel 02) 3442 - 1937] <-- Contact: Book-sending council for overseas Koreans

I have no idea how successful this drive for book donations was. The website for the Embassy of Kazakhstan is also a bit odd as it's written in English and Korean alone. Where's the Kazakh and Russian?

As for the location of the sign, it was right here:

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That's a park called Seonjeongneung (선정릉) where a few ancient kings are buried and nowadays people either pay 1000 won (now worth *less* than a dollar) to enter, or just walk around on the path encircling the park to get some exercise where the air is much better. The poster is on one of the fences at the edge of the park, and you can see the green walking path on the right side. Living near this park is highly recommended for anyone thinking of living in Seoul. It could make the difference between black lungs and healthy pink ones.

The best part about the park is this part:

View Larger Map

because it's still relatively small compared to your average North American city park, but right in this area is a small part where all of a sudden you can't see the city around you in any direction, which is something extremely hard to find within the city.

The Korean Wikipedia gives the following information on the numbers of overseas Koreans (Goryeoin, 고려인) in Central Asia:

중앙아시아의 고려인은 대부분 우즈베키스탄카자흐스탄에 거주한다. 카자흐스탄의 고려인 문화는 이전의 수도였던 알마티(Almaty)를 중심으로 하는데, 이 곳에서는 중앙아시아에서는 유일하게 한국어 신문(고려 신문)과 한국어 극장이 운영된다. 카자흐스탄의 인구조사에서는 1939년 96,500명의 고려인이 기록되었고, 1959년에는 74,000명, 1970년에는 81,600명, 1989년에는 100,700명, 1999년에는 99,700명이었다.

우즈베키스탄의 고려인들은 농촌 지역에 넓게 흩어져 있다.

Translation: Most overseas Koreans in Central Asia live in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The centre for Goryeoin culture in Kazakhstan is centred in the former capital of Almaty, and here is run the only Korean-language newspaper (Goryeo Shinmun) and Korean-language theatre in Central Asia. According to census data from Kazakhstan there were 96,500 Goryeoin in 1939, 74,000 in 1959, 81,600 in 1970, 100,700 in 1989, and 99,700 in 1999.

The Goryeoin in Uzbekistan are scattered about widely through the rural (agricultural) area.


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