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Soviet Korean Biographies in the Korean Collection of the Library of Congress

This guide describes and provides access to a digitized collection of rare handwritten biographies for 80 Soviet Koreans (Koryŏin, or Koryŏ saram) sent by the Soviet Union to help establish the North Korean state in the 1940s and 1950s.


Notice: The freely accessible version of Soviet Korean biographies is available as a digital collection on the Library of Congress website. The physical biographies are part of the Asian Division's Korean Rare Book Collection, which requires advance appointment in accordance with the Asian Division Rare Book Policy.
Chang Hak-pong, compiler. History Written by Our Blood and Tears</a>. [1995-2001]. Korean Collection. Library of Congress Asian Division
Chang Hak-pong, compiler. History Written by Our Blood and Tears. [1995-2001]. Korean Collection. Library of Congress Asian Division

At the Library of Congress, the Asian Division’s Korean collection contains a unique and freely accessible set of 80 handwritten biographies of Soviet Korean leaders who were sent by the Soviet Communist Party to help establish the North Korean dictatorial government of Kim Il-sŏng in the 1940s and 1950s.

The Soviet Koreans, or Koryŏin, occupied important leadership roles in North Korean state and society, such as deputy prime minister, commanders of military units, and professors and teachers. Their biographies have the collective title, History Written by Our Blood and Tears or Pʻi wa nunmul rossŏ ssiyŏjin [i.e. ssŭyŏjin] uridŭl ŭi yŏksa 피 와 눈물 로써 씨여진 [i.e. 쓰여진] 우리들 의 력사. They were compiled by Chang Hak-pong, the former principal of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Political Service Military Academy. In the collection’s introduction, he writes that Sŏ Chin-I, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Uzbekistan in 1994, encouraged Soviet Koreans to record their experiences for future generations. They wrote on various types of paper (e.g., loose-leaf notepaper) including portraits, pictures, and descriptions of their experiences as leading figures in North Korea. In April 2005, Chang Hak-pong donated these 80 Korean-language biographies to the Asian Division’s Korean collection.

The history of the Soviet Korean faction was very short, consisting of only about 15 years, but it was one of the most powerful and necessary instruments to the Communization of the Korean peninsula. However, their stories have largely been unknown to the world. The Asian Division’s Korean collection is the sole repository of their life experiences. These are not only primary sources of great scholarly interest, but they also enshrine the names, memories, and tragedies of Soviet Koreans and their forced migrations across Asia.

Please see the Asian Division's Korean collection overview for additional resources and information.

About the Asian Division

The Asian Reading Room provides public access to more than 4 million items in approximately 200 languages and dialects from across Asia, including Bengali, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Thai, Tibetan, Urdu, Vietnamese, and many others. In the reading room, researchers can use the Asian Division’s collections of printed materials, microform, and databases and confer with reference librarians to answer research questions about the countries of East, South, and Southeast Asia.