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Koreans in ethnicnational population structure of ukraine


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Koreans in ethnicnational population structure of ukraine

  1. 1. KOREANS IN ETHNIC-NATIONAL POPULATION STRUCTURE OF UKRAINE: THE PROBLEMS OF ETHNIC RENAISSANCE In this article I propose to analyze several aspects that characterize the currentstage and prospects of the Korean ethnic community development in Ukraine. Thisanalysis will be conducted in the context of two, in my opinion, the determiningfactors of modern social development of our country in the field of interethnicrelations: 1) dynamic changes in the ethno-national structure of Ukrainian society, 2)ethno-political renaissance, characteristic of virtually all components of this structure.So, nowadays the ethno-national structure of Ukraine’s population consists of 130ethnic groups. As for the types of ethnic communities, in the ethno-national structureof our country today we can distinguish the Ukrainian nation and ethnic minorities.However, the Constitution of Ukraine the thing is also about indigenous peoples. Inour opinion, the concept of "indigenous people" unreasonably got in legal documentsof Ukraine, as it is not defined and according to the traditional perception ofindigenous peoples in international practice, it can not be applied in the Ukrainiancontext. Some differences are observed also in the perception of the concept "ethnic(national) minority". Unlike many multi-ethnic European countries, the legalframework of our country makes possible to enroll as minority almost all ethnicgroups’ representatives, now living in Ukraine. In particular, according to the Law ofUkraine "On National Minorities in Ukraine", "to the national minorities appertainthe groups of citizens of Ukraine who are not Ukrainian by nationality, exhibit asense of national self-awareness and affinity" [1]. The discussions in recent years (atthe theoretical and practical levels), the analysis of national minorities’ rightsrealization in other multiethnic countries (e. g. Hungary, Slovakia) stimulates to moreclear definition of the criteria that could point us whom among the representatives ofone or another ethnic groups of Ukraine we can enroll to the national minorities. Inparticular, it concerns their quantitative complement, duration of their residence inthis area and so on. Talking about the ethnic structure elements, today we haveproposed to define them as follows: Ukrainian ethnos (Ukrainian ethnonation); ethnicgroups – among them, with uncertain status (indigenous peoples / national minorities)
  2. 2. and the national minorities; the representatives of certain ethnic groups. Hereby weshould make some comments. Ukrainian ethnos – the most numerous ethniccommunity of Ukraine. As for the ethnic groups with uncertain status, the Gagauz,Karaites, Crimean Tatars, Krymchaks can be referred to them. In the absence of clear criteria for the definition of "national minority" in theUkrainian political and legal framework and official practice (ethnopolitics) we offeras part of this analysis to use the criteria, that were laid in the base of the concept"national minority" definition by the parties to a joint working group of the Councilof Europe and Ukraine while working on a pilot project "Education Policy andMinorities. Ukraine." In passing, we note that they are based on the F. Kapotorti’sfamous definition of the concept "national minority" [2]: the group of population, which differs from the basic group of population in itsethnic origin or its nationality, or its language, or its religion; by its number is inferiorto the basic group; does not occupy a dominant position in the country; demonstratesthe desire to preserve its identity and its culture, traditions, religion or language; doesnot consist of recent immigrants or refugees; has the deep roots in the country ofresidence (usually the citizens of this country). I will add to this, the group of people which has a sufficient number ofindividuals, who perceive themselves as members of this group and are able toreproduce their identity through participation in the activities of ethnic organizations,artistic groups, the creation of conditions to preserve and develop their language andso on. That is to have the internal reserves to achieve, by R. Breton, "the Institutionalfullness" of the national minority structures [3]. Lets consider the Korean ethnic community of Ukraine in the context of such astructure. For this recall, that Koreans are not the indigenous population of ourcountry, they are the community, that has formed in Ukraine through immigration. Itis known, that Koreans came to Ukraine from the former Soviet Union; they livedmostly in the Far East and later in Central Asia. The organized migration of Koreansto the North Crimea occurs at the beginning of 1960. The motivation of this processwas the economic motive – the introduction in Ukraine of such agricultural crop asrice. The comparison of the three censuses indicates a certain dynamics of the Korean
  3. 3. component in the ethno-national structure of Ukrainian society: 1 341 (1959), the 4480 (1970), the 6 061 (1979), the 8 669 (1989), the 12,711 (2001). The Koreans nowoccupy the 115th place among the ethnic communities and minority groups of otherethnicities’ representatives. On this characteristic Koreans can be referred to such component of ethno-national structure of Ukrainian society as the national (ethnic) minority. However, inthe previous classification of this structure components, proposed by me, Koreans arenot represented [4]. But the development of Korean ethnic community at the turn ofthe last and present centuries gives some reason to reflect about the place of Koreansexactly in this category of mentioned classification. To confirm these thoughts I turnto the criteria of the "national minority" concept definition, which was discussedabove. Today, all those whom we name the Koreans, by their ethnic origin differfrom the basic group of population (Ukrainians), they certainly yield in numbers tothis basic group; they do not occupy the dominant position not only in country, butalso in places of their compact settlement; they have to some degree deep roots in thecountry of residence and, according to preliminary calculations, the overwhelmingmajority is the citizens of Ukraine. It is worth adding, that in favor of the thesisconcerning the inclusion of Koreans of Ukraine to the category of "national minority"indicates the type of settling structure – they are settled mainly in several regions andcities of Ukraine, that is, we can speak about their relatively compact settlement.Thus, in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, according to Census 2001, reside 2877people, in Mykolaiv region – 1 751, in the Kherson region – 1253, in Odessa – 773,in Kiev – 384. This factor contributes to the internal consolidation of ethniccommunity, that helps its reproduction as the specific social community of Ukrainiansociety and sustainable component of its ethno-national structure. Another group of criteria by which Koreans can be attributed to nationalminorities, is associated with those that determine the nature of ethno-politicalrenaissance. This is the efforts to preserve and develop their ethnic identity, theirethnic culture, ethnic traditions and so on. In this context it is important to note thatthe term "ethnic renaissance" is used to denote the phenomenon of dynamic changesinside the ethnic communities. This term is more appropriate to use while talking
  4. 4. about the revival of ethnicity (ethnic minorities) in the framework of multi-ethniccountries, where the political nations emerged with the clearly defined dominantmajority and the other ethnic components of the ethno-national structure areintegrated in these nations. In the frame of the integrative processes of ethnicmovements in such countries from time to time the activation of minorities ethno-cultural life is observed, sometimes the relations between the latter and the dominantmajority are exacerbated (usually in the context of power structures’ ethno-politicspractice). Two motives are the most characteristic for the following processes: 1) thedesire of minorities, generally stimulated by the leaders of their organizations, to takea good niche in the social life of one or another country, 2) dissatisfaction with thestate of ethnic and cultural rights of minority groups and ethnic policy of the state. As for ethno-political renaissance among national minorities, here we shouldpay attention to two things: 1) intense "awakening" of ethnic self-consciousness andthe desire to revive the ethnic identity, 2) finding the ways to participate effectively insocial and political processes, to self-assertion as effective factors state creation withoccupation the respective niches in the economic and political life of the new state. Inthe first aspect at least two features are fixed: a) the particular revival character of that national minorities, which also beforethe independence demonstrated the quite high level of internal cohesion (thisphenomenon we call "ethnic solidarity") [5], that allowed to store and to some extentdevelop their ethnic identity (Bulgarians, Moldavians, Poles, Romanians,Hungarians). Here the process of ethnic revival had the sufficient ground for itsintensification and the question is more in terms of establishing themselves as actingfactors of state-creative processes and strengthening their influence on decisionmaking, at least, at local and regional levels; b) in separate group we can distinguish those national minorities, where therecovery process occurs too fast, but they had not such basis as, say, the minoritiesmentioned above. This group could include Azerbaijanians, Belarusians, Armenians,Greeks, Germans, Roma, Tatars, Slovaks, Czechs, Koreans and some others. Amongthese minorities the intensive formation of their ethnic organizations eventuated, aswell as opening of schools or classes with ethnic teaching languages took place, also
  5. 5. the periodic or episodic releases were founded, etc. We can say, that the system of"institutional fullness" was being formed. However, they actively started to take partin social and political processes and to seek the status of effective factor (as distinctethnic groups) in official policy forming, at least in the field of ethnic-nationaldevelopment. Among the typical and most characteristic features of national minorities’ethnic revival we can name the following: 1) the formation of organizations withpredominant membership of one ethnicity; 2) the activities of art groups that gather,reconstitute and promote the folklore, traditions and customs of their ethnic groups;3) functioning of state schools with full, partial or episodic teaching in ethniclanguages; 4) the presence of secondary special and higher educational institutionsthat train specialists in ethnic minorities languages, or in which the special coursesare taught (mainly concerning the philology cycle and ethnology character); 5) pressissues in ethnic languages or for ethnic minorities – they appear with differentintervals and in different editions; 6) television and radio broadcasting for nationalminorities; 7) publication of literature (not just textbooks) in national minoritieslanguages. As for Koreans in Ukraine, the significant number of these ethnic revivalfeatures is peculiar to them. Thus, the researches of the Center of Etnosociologicaland Ethnopolitical Researches of Institute of Sociology of NAS of Ukraine recordedthe energetic activity of national-cultural societies in Luhansk, Kharkiv, Mykolayiv,Donetsk, Cherkassy, Kherson regions and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Itconcernes also such cities as Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Odessa. I note, that thefirst Korean societies emerged in the early 1990s, just when the active processes ofUkrainian independent state formation started. It is somewhat symbolic – the revivalof Koreans as an organized community in the ethno-national structure of Ukrainecoincides with the revival of Ukrainian ethnicity within the framework of theindependent state. The Association of Koreans in Ukraine was registered in 1992.Today, the Kyiv Association of Koreans, the Koreans regional organization (Luhanskregion), the Association of Korean culture (Kharkiv region.), the Korean cultureSociety (Mykolaiv region), the Korean culture Society (Cherkasy region), the
  6. 6. Koreans Organization "Kore" (Kherson region) are functioning. Speaking about theactivity of Korean organizations, we should bear in mind two things: 1) their intra-organizational activity, as I observed, is fairly high; 2) in quantitative terms, they aresmall amount; according to researchers only the small part of Koreans participate inthe activities of ethnic organizations [6]. However, due to the fact, that before theindependence of Ukraine such organizations did not exist, we can affirm, that theiractivity today is adequate to the tempos of ethnic revival. Actually, this is the evidence of Koreans ethnic revival process, as well as oneof the conditions to classify them as the national minority. Because the presence andactivities of ethnic organizations are the sign of "institutional fullness" of ethniccommunity, which under these conditions may have become the actor of ethno-national processes of the country of residence. Another typical feature of ethnic revival – the activities of art groups, thatreconstitute and promote the folklore, traditions and customs of their ethnic groups –certainly characteristic of Koreans in Ukraine. The investigations of the formation ofethno-cultural space of Ukraine confirm their active participation in this process.Since Ukraines first Korean Culture Festival (1995), the presence of thiscommunity’s culture is appreciable not only regionally but also at the national level.For example, the celebrated decade of the Kyiv Association of Koreans (2002), theKorean ensembles participation in the TV program "Pleyada" ("Not so bad in ourhouse", January 2004) and other art content actions show, that the Korean ethno-cultural component is tangible, or at least becomes such, in the cultural life of thewhole Ukraine. However, in other aspects, that indicate the "turbulence" of ethnic revival,Koreans do not take such strong positions. So far, there are no public high schools,wherever studied the Korean language. Instead, the Sunday schools appear in theplaces of compact settlement, particularly in the Crimea, Kharkiv, Kyiv. It ispredictable, that in the process of Koreans ethnic revival in Ukraine, the need to learnthe Korean language will increase because, for the census in 2001 the followinglanguage situation was recorded: 2223 (17.5%) persons spoke Korean language, 9662(76.0%) – Russian language and 700 (5.5%) – Ukrainian language.
  7. 7. At first glance it may be noted, that among Koreans in Ukraine is the very lowpercentage of those, who speak the language of their nationality. However, taking toconsideration the total russification in the former Soviet Union and especially in theenvironment of small amount ethnic communities, these figures are good prospects ofKoreans returning to their language and its more active use in everyday and sociallife. This has certain favorable conditions linked primarily with the legislature for itsprocess. We mean the Law of Ukraine "On National Minorities in Ukraine" (1992),under which the national minorities have the right to preserve and develop theiridentity in all its manifestations. In my opinion, to the ethnolingual renaissance of Koreans in Ukraine cancontribute the fact, that the Korean language is studied at Kyiv National TarasShevchenko University, National Linguistic University; the functioning of Koreanfirms in Ukraine, the exchange in the sphere of culture, education and informationbetween Ukraine and Korea also contribute to this. As for other features of ethnicrevival (the presence of the press, television and radio broadcasts, publication ofliterature in Korean), it is evident, that the language environment is still insufficientfor these ethnic renaissance attributes functioning. Thus, Koreans in Ukraine are stable component of its ethnic-national structure;they function in the ethnic-national area of our country as the ethnic community,which is able to reproduce itself in demographic and cultural context. One of the mostpressing problems in the process of ethnic renaissance of Koreans in Ukraine is toreturn to their ethnicity via the revival of language, culture, traditions and customs.Another important problem (noting, not only for Koreans, but also for all nationalminorities, being at the ethnic renaissance point) is the problem of integration intoUkrainian society. The question is not the resistance to this integration, but somecontradiction between the content of the two most obvious trends of modern ethnic-national development of Ukraine. The first of them is the desire to build the nationalstate. It is personified the most concentrated by the representatives of Ukrainianethnos, the majority of national minorities members. The debate is waged largelyaround the question how to implement this longing. It is obvious, that under theConstitution of Ukraine our state is unitarian [7]. This can create the impression, that
  8. 8. the trunk priority of the ethno-political revival in Ukraine is the ethnicallyhomogeneous state, the assimilation of other components in the Ukrainian ethnicbackground and the ethnic homogenization of society. The second trend – ethnicidentity revival of the other elements of ethnic-national structure is accompanied bythe growth of ethnic solidarity, internal group unity and the intensification ofminority rights ethnic movements. Analyzing the interaction of these two trends and the impact on this interactionof both objective and subjective various factors, we should bear in mind severalcircumstances: 1) the historical continuity of many ethnic groups representativesconflict-free (with rare exceptions) coexistence in the territory of modern Ukraine; 2)the subordination factor, and even to some extent, the national oppression, the ethno-social Ukrainians community and representatives of other ethnic groups developmentopportunities restrictions; 3) the future identity development of the Ukrainian societyethnic-national structure elements due to Ukraines independence declaration; 4) theprinciples of ethnic-national policy of the Ukrainian state and its implementationmechanisms, 5) the positions of ethnic fatherland states concerning parts of theirethnic groups, which are situated within the frame of Ukrainian ethno-politicalorganism, 6) the interaction possibilities of ethnic groups different parts, includingUkrainian, 7) the foreign policy priorities and orientation of Ukraine. On condition of the skilful ethno-political management, which should be basedon sturdy legal framework and knowledge of poly-ethnic society rules anddevelopment features, these factors can certainly have the positive impact on thecontradiction between integration and the desire to preserve ethnic identityovercoming. For Koreans in Ukraine, then in my opinion, in this case to resolve thisseemingly contradictory is not too difficult. The basis for this assertion is the highlevel of tolerance in relations between Koreans and ethnic majority (Ukrainian) andbetween Koreans and the members of other ethnic communities of Ukraine, thepositive image of Koreans due to their qualities such as diligence, absence of conflictand the disposition to integration. Talking about the ethnic renaissance among Koreans in Ukraine and the issueof their ethnocultural requests satisfaction in the context of Korean ethnic community
  9. 9. organizational and legal functioning, then in my opinion, the most adaptable form forthem would be the national-personal autonomy. Exactly within the frame of suchautonomy, which expects the inclusion of all the representatives of any nationality inits sphere of influence, regardless their settlement nature in the Ukrainian territory,arises the possibility of their unity and ethno-cultural development needs satisfaction. References: 1. Law of Ukraine "On National Minorities in Ukraine". – K., 1993. – P. 4. 2. Capotorti F. Study on the Rights of Persons Belonging to Ethnic, Religiousand Linguistic Minorities. – New York, 1979 (UN Doc. E/CN/4/Sub/2/384/Rev. 1,UN Sales No. E. 78 1V1). – P. 96. 3. Breton R. Institutional Completeness of Ethnic Communities and thePersonal Relations of Immigrants // American Journal of Sociology. – 1964. – Vol.70 . – № 2. 4. Yevtukh V. Tendenciyi etnonacionalnogo rozvytku ukrayins’kogo suspilstva// Etnichni spilnoty Ukrayiny. – Kyiv: Feniks, 2001. – S. 6. (Yevtukh V. Trends inethnic-national development of Ukrainian society // Ethnic community of Ukraine. –Kyiv: Phoenix, 2001. – P. 6). 5. Jewtuch W. Ethnischer Antagonismus und ethnische Solidaritaet in denLaendern Nordamerikas // Migrationsforschung. – 1989. – Heft 22. 6. Im Jon San, Pan Il Kvon. Proekt stvorennya kompyuternoyi merezhi dlyaspilnoty ukrayins’kykh koreyciv, yaki prozhyvayut’ na pivdni krayiny // Suchasnyystan ta perspektyvy naukovo-kulturnogo obminu mizh Ukrayinoyu i Koreyeyu. – K.,2001. – S. 127. (Im Jon San, Mr. Il Kvon. The project of computerized networkcreation for the community of Ukrainian Koreans living in the South of the country //Current state and prospects of scientific and cultural exchange between Ukraine andKorea. – K., 2001. – P. 127). 7. Constitution of Ukraine. – K., 1996. – P. 4.