Ex uno plures? Identity through (in-)difference? Inter-generational shifts among the Koryo saram

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


The paper uses the case of the Koryo saram, the ethnic Koreans living in Russia, to reflect on how notions of diasporas, community and identity have changed since the Soviet collapse and the independence of fifteen successor states.
Drawing on fieldwork conducted in Central Asia and Russia the paper takes issue with recent trends in the Koryo saram scholarship that seek to establish whether the Koryo saram are ‘still’ Korean or constitute a new, separate, Korean nation. The paper contends that rather than thinking of diasporas as bounded communities we should think of diasporic conditions and claims. While many Koryo saram continue to claim some form of Korean-ness, this is understood, perceived, negotiated – even contested – differently. Mobility, diversity, and liminality define today’s Koryo saram and in their diversity and heterogeneity they well illustrate the hybridity and hyphenated identities of the modern condition. Korean-ness may be ‘declined’ differently, but that is part of the Koryo saram’s strategies of adaptation rather than as a sign that an imagined bounded entity has parted ways from the Koreans from the peninsula.
Period14 Jun 2019
Held atFudan University, China
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Korea
  • Central Asia
  • post-Soviet
  • Koyro saram
  • liminality
  • diaspora
  • diasporism
  • Uzbekistan
  • Kyrgyzstan