Ethnic Koreans of Kazakhstan Today: Genesis and Evolution of Diasporic Identity

Guest lecture by Yefrem Yefremov, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University. 

Woman with Hanbok,the traditional Korean dress. Photo.

The lecture will deal with the diasporic identity of Kazakhstan's ethnic Koreans.

Photo: Colourbox

Approximately 100,000 ethnic Koreans ("Koryo Saram") live in Kazakhstan, mostly in urban areas. This determines the multi-ethnic environment surrounding the diaspora, and its high degree of acculturation.

This presentation will deal with the diasporic identity of Kazakhstan's ethnic Koreans. This identity is a composite of numerous identities based on a shared cultural heritage and has mosaic character. Although ethnic Koreans are focused on preserving their ethno-cultural identity, the conditions of long-term coexistence with the majority ethnic groups inexorably lead to gradual assimilation.

Factors influencing the minority identity

The presenter will examine the factors influencing the transformation and development of minority identity in a multiethnic society in Kazakhstan. The crucial factors of identity maintenance and its evolution, in presenter's analysis, are the accepted criteria and main features of "Koreanness", Koreans' attitude to their ethnicity, and the connections between the Koreans of Kazakhstan and Koreans living in other CIS countries.

The presenter observes a "renaissance" of the diasporic identity of Koreans in Kazakhstan nowadays, but also sees a potential possibility of the gradual weakening of diasporic identity with an increase in the proportion of hetero-ethnic marriages among ethnic Koreans.

About the presenter

Yefrem Yefremov (born 1984) is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Asian Studies, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University. He is presently a PhD student at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Faculty of Oriental Studies, Department of the Far East.

He is the author of the following articles:

  • “Formation of ethnic and diasporic Identities among Koreans in the USA”. Bulletin of the Kazakh National Pedagogical University named after Abai, Series "Sociological and political sciences", Vol. 70, No 2 (2020)
  • “Influence of the multiethnic environment on the diasporic identity of Koreans in Kazakhstan”. Bulletin of St. Petersburg University. Oriental and African studies. Vol 13, No 4 (2021)
  • “Korean Americans: the genesis of diasporic and ethnic identities”. Bulletin of Al-Farabi Kazakh National University. Oriental studies. Vol. 100, No 1 (2022)
Published Apr. 27, 2022 2:58 PM - Last modified Sep. 13, 2022 9:25 AM