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Posted : 2013-05-27 19:39
Updated : 2013-05-27 19:39

Professor publishes collection of photos on Soviet-Koreans

Cho Kyu-ick
By Kwon Ji-youn

Soongshil University Prof. Cho Kyu-ick has published a collection of photographs highlighting the history of Korean migrants in the now-defunct Soviet Union.

The collection is titled “Migration and Settlement of Soviet-Koreans in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), Understanding Through Their Photographs.” It shows images of Soviet-Korean migrants.

“I wanted to revive a portion of Korea’s history by retelling the stories and experiences of these Soviet Koreans,” Cho said. “The stories these photographs tell are vivid.”

He said he wanted to record the images before they were burned or thrown away.

Cho, a professor of classical literature, became interested in those who left Korea during the 1910-45 Japanese colonial period while he was in Sakhalin, Russia, researching Central-Asian Korean literature.

With the help of migrants still residing in Sakhalin, Cho collected an abundance of photos, taken in 1910 and onward. The first collection contains images of Korean migrants in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Cho said the collection, the second in the series, is more comprehensive, including some 300 photographs.

“Migrants have been returning to Korea, and most of their first generation has died,” Cho said. “I found it imperative to begin organizing and recording their history.”

Cho said this was a chance to make known the existence of such migrants. He regrets that these people are largely forgotten and neglected, despite being victims of history.

“People tend to be unaware of the academic value their photographs hold,” Cho said. “Just by arranging these photographs chronologically we are able to see for ourselves the history of these people.”

“Photos do not go beyond what really happened,” Cho added. “This makes them all the more meaningful.”

Cho said that he hopes to publish up to 10 photo collections.

“I also hope to be able to write about these Sakhalin migrants and make their stories known.” 


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