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Far East in Korea
Leonid Blyakher about the inhabitants of the Russian Far East who moved to Asia
Professor, Head of the Department of Philosophy and Culturology of the Pacific State University, Doctor of Philosophy
Because of my age, I still remember the period when the departure abroad was perceived almost as a funeral departing. Rare letters, even more rare news-parcels. And that's all. Silence. Today the situation is different. People go to earnings, go to places where their professional qualities and skills are more in demand. Sometimes come back, sometimes not. But communication is not interrupted. Next, along the already trampled paths, the following "generations" of migrants go, friends come to visit. The "ponouhalevshie" themselves visit left penates.
Of course, China remains the main area of attraction in the region. Habitual, more habitable country. Russian (at least in the northern part) is common. Yes, and Chinese in the Far Eastern borderland is becoming more common and famous. But, oddly enough, the Russian diaspora in China is much less stable. But in Korea they are different. Of course, there are official student and teacher exchange programs, tours of creative teams, state-recognized joint business projects, tourism, etc. But informal interaction, based not so much on decisions of high authorities, but on interpersonal contracts, acquaintances, and connections, is developing much more actively.
Somehow talked with a good friend, who has lived in Seoul for many years. "This is not heaven at all," she told me. - Another culture, other rules. We have always been here and will be strangers. Even Koreans from Russia do not get used to everything. But, you know, it's comfortable to live here. Life here is somehow simpler. You do not notice it. " About the life of the Far East in this country, their significance for us living in Russia, I also wanted to speculate.
South Korea (Republic of Korea) for many years the Soviet Union was a closed and mysterious country both for the region and for the whole of the USSR. The Far Easterners knew their "own" Koreans, who were not particularly different from all other inhabitants of the Far East. They knew the North Koreans ("Korean loggers"), the attitude towards which was very ambiguous, despite official friendship.
About the inhabitants of South Korea, at best, they heard something from the seamen of foreign countries entering Pusan. Perhaps the starting point of the "opening of Korea" was the Olympics in Seoul in 1988. It turned out that this is not only the "American puppets", but the leaders in the field of electronics, household chemicals, auto business, shipbuilding and much more. As the Far East opened up in the Asia-Pacific in the 90-ies, there were also more close contacts. Not very stable, not always successful. But already in that period the first migrations from Russia to South Korea begin.
The first to appear on the territory of the southern neighbor are ethnic Koreans who have not lost their kinship ties in the country of exodus. The stream of these immigrants was not particularly large. But he was. Then the oncoming traffic begins. A very small group of entrepreneurs from the "country of morning freshness" is supplemented by a very tangible and visible stream of ... Christian preachers. They create the first religious communities in the region. In Korea, most often, the Holy Texts appeared on the completely atheistic Far East of Russia. These preachers became another channel of information about South Korea. In their sermons the missionaries willingly included musical numbers, variety performances. The contact between the Far Eastern and Korean musicians is beginning. In the same 90-s the first, far not only religious, musical projects, tours are being organized. Far Eastern musicians are beginning to master Korean orchestras and clubs, bars and resorts.
At the same time, contacts are also beginning between universities. More precisely, at the first stage, between specific teachers and researchers. Engineers, ethnographers, historians, teachers of foreign languages and many others begin counter motion. And if the trips of Korean colleagues rarely went beyond the scope of the project or conference, the strategies of the Far East were more difficult. Someone, having visited the conference or participated in the project, returned home. And someone preferred to stay "on the course of lectures", "on a one-year contract" or somehow. Since the salary of teachers of Russian and Korean universities at that time was different in 15-20 times (not in favor of the Far East of Russia), it was possible to understand them.
At the same time, programmers and other figures of the IT sector were drawn to the South-East. The "shuttles" did not lag behind. Goods from South Korea, as well as goods from China, are becoming familiar on the shelves in Primorye and Khabarovsk Krai. But the goods from Korea were considered, and are considered more qualitative and prestigious.
Migration legislation in the Republic of Korea is quite tough. Naturalization is possible almost exclusively through marriage or through programs for the return of ethnic Koreans. As a rule, we are talking about a one-year contract, which, however, can be prolonged. He also was prolonged. Programmers and artists, teachers and entrepreneurs, very different specialists and not very habitable in South Korea. They are not yet competing with Indonesians and Filipinos, who have long been living in these regions. But there are already quite a few of them. They often have only a formal contract that allows them to get a working visa, fill the sphere of freelance, actively participate in economic life, open shops and cafes "for Russians".
In the fat “zero” years, economic cooperation between countries is also intensified. This investment in exploration and reconstruction of the Khabarovsk refinery, some other projects. However, their volume remains quite modest. The "popular development" of South Korea remains much more intense. A group of Far Eastern businessmen focused on this country has been established and is working.
In the years of the Russian "Prosperity" new spheres of attraction for my countrymen in Korea have appeared. The first is medicine. It's hard for me to judge how much the level of Korean medicine is higher than the national level. Not an expert. But to be treated in Korea becomes prestigious. This is an indicator of income and status. Medical tourism in South Korea is almost an ordinary, though not a cheap pleasure for the Far East. A little less popular was beach tourism. The reason is clear. Tours to China and Thailand filled this niche, while remaining substantially cheaper. However, the popularity of Jeju (the main resort of the country) is gradually growing. A clear advantage here was only the proximity of the resting place (according to Far Eastern standards, of course). Not the usual 6-8 hours of flight, but less than three. Very close.
After a recession in the economy of the region in the 2013 and subsequent years, there are several new flows. The first, begins earlier, today becoming only more intense. This is the sphere of model business. South Korea today is actively trying on the role of the capital of fashion and pop art in the APR. Models with European appearance are very popular here. A successful project in Seoul or Busan can be a start for a career in other countries.
The sharp decline in the construction complex of the region after 2012, which continues to this day, led to an outflow of professional builders to the “country of morning freshness”. The situation is clear. Korea is experiencing a construction boom. Giant construction sites cover almost the entire territory of the country. In the Far East, the demand for these specialists, despite all the reports, is becoming more and more imaginary. Built houses are empty. Fewer pledged new. So flow over labor resources. The relative liberalization of the visa regime only facilitates the flow. Ride, as a rule, not for long. On earnings. Informal hiring (officially tourism) for agricultural work is becoming another form of otkhodnichestvo in the Far East. Here, too, is a temporary departure. Earn and return.
Today we can talk about the existence of a stable Russian diaspora in Korea. The elite here, as a rule, are those who were able to obtain Korean citizenship. They are not related to the need to extend the visa, the presence of a formal (often economically unprofitable) work contract, a place of residence. Accordingly, they have more opportunities to organize their own enterprises or projects. As few studies and own author's observations show, they prefer to involve their former compatriots in their projects. Ethnicity is secondary. It may or may not be ethnic Koreans. Language and cultural traditions are more important.
Serious enough positions are occupied by Far Eastern migrants who have been living in South Korea for many years. A wide range of dating. More or less firmly rooted in the local community allows them to easily solve formal problems, act as "guides and mentors" for new migrants. Short-term migrant workers “migrant workers” act as a permanent resource that replenishes and strengthens the diaspora. This diaspora is rather loose, without a clear structure, say, the Turkish community in Germany or the Indian community in Egypt. But the potential significance of such a diaspora, as, indeed, of all the Russian diasporas in the world, which retain ties with Russia, is enormous.
In the rainbow years, when the wounds of the Second World War dragged on, and the world began to rapidly globalize, there is an attempt to realize the dream - to create simple and understandable norms of international communication, first of all in the sphere of economy. But, alas, this, far from being the first attempt, as the events of recent years have shown, turned out to be limitedly successful. Conflicts increasingly tear international institutions, reduce their impact, weaken the trust between citizens of different states. And here personal institutions become personal institutions, interpersonal trust replaces and supplements the decreasing confidence in international institutions. Without such personalities-guides (who are trusted by the participants in the interaction), it is becoming increasingly difficult to do business in the world. Diasporas, integrated into the local community, are ideal and universal guides in this regard. Especially the Russian diaspora in Korea for the Far East. It is good to. Of course, so that official structures (embassies, missions, consulates) of Russia suddenly learned to see in migrants not only people from whom something can be fucked, but also a critically important economic and political resource. But even without this, "our people there" is the most direct way of Russia's integration into the APR. Without it, all forums, conversations and negotiations will remain a "protocol of intent".