September 10, 2021

Banished Soviet-Koreans Helped Build North Korea

By Jason Bartlett

The U.S. Library of Congress recently digitalized a series of handwritten and photocopied memoirs and biographies of 80 Soviet-Koreans, noting their contributions to, and sacrifices for, the establishment of North Korea. Concurrently, North Korea held its latest military parade on the morning of September 9 to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of its founding. While Pyongyang touts its reclusive nature as an act of national pride free from foreign influence, the reality is that a collection of outsiders – Soviet-Koreans, in particular – helped establish the country’s government and institutions still in place today despite claims of complete self-reliance.

While Pyongyang touts its reclusive nature as an act of national pride free from foreign influence, the reality is that a collection of outsiders – Soviet-Koreans, in particular – helped establish the country’s government and institutions still in place today.

The most notable contribution to the digitalized collection is the handwritten account of Jang Hak-Bong entitled “History Written By Our Blood and Tears.” According to Voice of America, Jang previously served as the first head of the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the commander and director of operations for the Korean People’s Army, making him one of the highest ranking Soviet-Koreans within the North Korean government. However, even rising to the highest echelons of North Korean society couldn’t protect Jang from accusations of cultural and ideological weakness due to his mixed upbringing, which Kim Il Sung cited as the reason for his forced repatriation back to the Soviet Union during the 1950s.

Read the full article from The Diplomat.

  • Commentary
    • The Diplomat
    • October 29, 2021
    China’s New Land Borders Law Is a Nightmare for North Korean Refugees

    A combination of high-level pressure from foreign governments and steady support for grassroots refugee resettlement organizations and programs is the most practical way to as...

    By Jason Bartlett

  • Commentary
    • World Politics Review
    • October 21, 2021
    The Two Koreas’ Recent Arms Displays Are Sending Very Different Messages

    North Korea has announced that it successfully tested a new, smaller submarine-launched ballistic missile, or SLBM, on Tuesday. State media claimed the missile—launched from t...

    By Dr. Duyeon Kim

  • Commentary
    • The Diplomat
    • October 12, 2021
    Unpacking Claims of Secret North Korean Intelligence Operations

    Cyberspace remains a viable domain for infiltration and information collection for highly trained North Korean agents....

    By Jason Bartlett

  • Reports
    • October 7, 2021
    Tangled Threats

    Executive Summary China and North Korea pose intertwined challenges for U.S. and allied policy. The Korean Peninsula constitutes just one area among many in U.S.-China relatio...

    By Jacob Stokes

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia