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“Identity through difference”: liminal diasporism and generational change among the Koryo saram in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

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The article is a case study of the Koryo saram, the ethnic Koreans living in the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan, to reflect on how notions of diasporas, community and identity have changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It contends that the Koryo saram are best understood through the lenses of diasporic conditions rather than as bounded communities as such an approach allows for greater recognition of heterogeneity within such communities. While many Koryo saram continue to claim some form of Korean-ness, how they related to issues of homeland-orientation and boundary maintenance evidences internal variation and growing in-betweenness. The community’s hybridity (“hyphenization”) and liminality (“identity through difference”) stand out when examining generational differences and are especially evident among the local Korean youth.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-72
Number of pages32
JournalEuropean Journal of Korean Studies
Issue number2
Early online date1 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2021

    Research areas

  • Koryo saram, Korean diaspora, diaspora, Central Asia, Russia, deportation, Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, generational change, liminality, hybridity, Soviet Union, Korean, Korea, Soviet Koreans, post-Soviet Koreans, identity

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