Memory and Reproduction: A Study of 1980s Chinese Ethnic Korean Revolutionary Narratives—Yun Il-san’s The Roaring Mudan River

The Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies recently published a new and very exciting paper by two Chinese scholars focusing on an area of great interest to me, and hopefully to readers of this blog: namely, the Chinese Korean region of Yanbian. (Fortunately there is no paywall, nor is any login or registration needed; the full pdf is here).

This paper presents a valuable window into a group and a type of cultural artifact and a time period which are all in need of more scholarly attention. The writing is smooth and clear throughout, and fans of long discursive footnotes will have cause for joy. This article will allow scholars of the Korean minority in China to give much more texture to the successive Manchukuo (1932-1945) and “War of Liberation” (i.e., Chinese Civil War, 1945-1950) experiences for this group, and should encourage more scholarly investigation into cultural expression and memory among the Chaoxianzu in the 1980s, a period when Tibetan writers were doing much the same thing, thanks in part to some needed liberalization by the CCP/Hu Yaobang in particular.

The paper explains that ‘in September 1945 (immediately following liberation), the Dongbei chapter of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee announced that “the ethnic Koreans in the Dongbei area are recognized as an ethnic minority within Chinese borders”.’ This authors also point toward the role played by the Northeast Bureau of the CCP in recognizing or identifying the ethnic status of the Koreans in northeast China, which will be an area of future work for me.

Related Citations

Hyun Ok Park, The Capitalist Unconscious: From Korean Unification to Transnational Korea (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015)

Shin, Dong Jo 2016. “Factional Violence and Ethnic Relations in a Korean Borderland: Mao Yuanxin’s Cultural Revolution in Yanbian, 1966-1968,” Modern China Studies 23 (2): 141-162

Hyun Ok Park, Two Dreams in One Bed: Empire, Social Life and the Origins of the North Korean Revolution in Manchuria (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003), pp. 24-43.

Adam Cathcart, “Nationalism and Ethnic Identity in the Sino-Korean Border Region of Yanbian, 1945-1950,” Korean Studies, Vol. 34 (December 2010): 25-53.




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