Gyeonggi Province’s Ansan Goryeoin Culture Center and Ttaetgol Village - Home to Goryeoins

Who are Goryeoins and what brought them to Ttaetgol village in Ansan, South Korea? They definitely deserve more attention in many ways.

Ansan City is home to 83,410 international residents from 100 countries, the largest international resident population by percentage among the cities of South Korea with international residents accounting for approximately 11.3% of Ansan’s total population. Among the international residents who live in Ansan, about 18,000 people are Goryeoin (Корё-сарам), and roughly two-thirds of the Goryeoin live in what is called Ttaetgol Village. Most of the these residents are descendants of Goryeoin migrants who came to Korea from Central Asia (e.g. Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia) to discover their ancestral roots.
Ansan Goryeoin Culture Center has been run since 2017, offering various support programs for Goryeoins
ⓒGyeonggi Province

▲Who are the Goryeoins?

“Goryeoin” refers to a group of Koreans who migrated to the Maritime Province of Russia during the late Joseon Dynasty and the Japanese occupation of Korea. A Korean community formed in the Maritime Province and many utilized their new location as a base for Korea’s independence movement. However, they were deported by the Russian leader Joseph Stalin in 1937 and resettled all around Central Asia.

Despite the difficulties they have faced since 1864, Goryeoins have maintained their identity as Koreans for 150 years.

Goryeoin refers to a group of Koreans who immigrated to Russia during the Japanese occupation in Korea
ⓒGyeonggi Province
Goryeoins live in Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and other locations. Goryeoins are also referred to as “Goryeojok” in Korean and “Kareisky” in Russian.

The “Joseonjok” that we can easily meet in Korea are descendants of Koreans who immigrated to Manchuria during the Japanese occupation. The descendants of Koreans who immigrated to the Maritime Province are called Goryeoin.

▲ What does Ttaetgol mean?

The name “Ttaetgol” originates from a perennial plant from the rice family called “tti” that is indigenous to the area. The village used to be called Ttigol, but the pronunciation gradually shifted to the current Ttaetgol over time. There is an old belief that you can avoid a misfortune if you lie flat underneath Teolmilbong Peak in the northeastern corner of Ttaetgol Village. It is said that, due to this popular belief, many people from Seoul and Incheon escaped to Ttaetgol Village to save themselves when the Korean War broke out. It is also said that the villagers did not experience injuries or fires.

A great number of Goryeoins migrate to many cities in South Korea including Ansan City
ⓒGyeonggi Province

▲ Why do they all live in Ttaetgol Village?

The main factor attracting Goryeoins to Ttaetgol Village is employment. The village is located near the Siheung Industrial Complex and Banwol Industrial Complex, which provide job opportunities to local residents. Accommodation costs are also cheaper in the village than in other areas, which is an attractive feature for foreign workers. In addition, Ansan was the first municipal government to include international residents in Gyeonggi Province’s disaster-related basic income program. Various international resident-friendly policies have made it an attractive place for Goryeoins.

▲ What does the Ansan Goryeoin Culture Center do?

The Ansan Goryeoin Culture Center has been operated since August 2017 by the Neomeo corporation on commission from the Ansan City Government. The Ansan Goryeoin Culture Center offers various support programs for Goryeoins, including:

1. Education programs

A. Korean language classes for Goryeoin children and adults
B. After-school programs for Goryeoin adolescents (art, music and physical education classes, and cultural programs)

2. Resident support programs

A. Consultation services and translation/interpretation services (related to wages, employment, housing, and legal issues)
B. Goryeoin community activities, and cultural events

3. Exhibition Hall

A. Sharing the history of Goryeoin migration and independence activists
B. Operation of Ttaetgol Village tour programs

▲ Interviews with volunteers at the Ansan Goryeoin Culture Center

Yelena Choi has been living in Korea for seven years and volunteers as a Korean language teacher for Goryeoin children at the Ansan Goryeoin Culture Center. Her passion for her work is well known, and she even received the Excellent International Resident Award for her dedication. We asked her about her first impressions of Korea.

Yelena Choi has been volunteering as a Korean language teacher at Ansan Goryeoin Culture Center
ⓒGyeonggi Province
Yelena Choi: When I first arrived in Korea in 2015, there was almost no public awareness of Goryeoins in Korean society. When I told people that I was a Goryeoin from Uzbekistan, they naturally thought of me as a foreigner. In Uzbekistan, I experienced Korean culture like hwangap (sixtieth-birthday celebration), doljanchi (first-birthday celebration), and jesa (ancestral rites), and ate Korean food very frequently. My parents always taught me that I must not lose my identity as a Korean. So when I came to Korea, I felt a little disappointed and sad when I found out that Koreans in Korea did not actually know much about Goryeoins. So these days, I try to explain the history and other aspects of Goryeoins in more detail to the people I meet.

▲ Goals of Gyeonggi Province and the Ansan Goryeoin Culture Center

In 2020, Gyeonggi Province started a public perception improvement project for Goryeoins through various education programs and events. This project focuses on helping Goryeoins be accepted as members of Korean society and live in contemporary Korea. Through the program, Gyeonggi Province is endeavoring to help overseas Koreans receive better treatment and settle into society both at home and abroad. The Ansan Goryeoin Culture Center will continue to help Goryeoins, and envisions a day when society embraces overseas Koreans without prejudice.
Ansan is the only city in Korea where an international resident support center is headquartered
ⓒGyeonggi Province

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Gyeonggido-Korea (경기도): Gyeonggi Province’s Ansan Goryeoin Culture Center and Ttaetgol Village - Home to Goryeoins
Gyeonggi Province’s Ansan Goryeoin Culture Center and Ttaetgol Village - Home to Goryeoins
Who are Goryeoins and what brought them to Ttaetgol village in Ansan, South Korea? They definitely deserve more attention in many ways.
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