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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

Red Capital, Colonial Eyes: Moscow as Seen by Korean Intellectuals in the 1920s–1930s

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2017, v.57 no.3, pp.5-30
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2017.57.3.5
(Universiteit i Oslo)
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Abstract

In the 1920s and 1930s, Moscow occupied an important place on the Korean intel- ligentsia’s cognitive maps. For the communists, studying at Comintern schools there was a cherished dream. Approximately two hundred Korean communists either studied or taught in Moscow throughout the 1920s and 1930s. For the noncommunist anti- colonial progressives too, Moscow was the place to observe a fascinating sociopolitical experiment. For them, Moscow symbolized social emancipation of the erstwhile oppressed classes, female liberation, and efforts to enlighten the “masses,” which they regarded as needed in Korea as well. Interestingly enough, the conservative Stalinist turn in internal Soviet politics from the early 1930s was duly registered in Moscow travelogues by Korean intellectuals as well. Social levelling was still seen as an import- ant defining trait of the Soviet experience, but at the same time close attention was increasingly paid to rapid industrial and military development. Drawing on a large number of colonial-age materials, the present article attempts to reconstruct the diverse overlapping images of Moscow in Korea under Japanese rule. It focuses on the complex interactions between diverse images of the city which embodied, for Koreans as well as other foreign visitors, all the essential features of the Soviet sociopolitical and cultural experiment.

keywords
Moscow Soviet Union communism egalitarianism travelogue colonial period development

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