Корё сарам без границ

Идея Александра Кана ранее исподволь проводилась на сайте, публикациями статей и постов на иностранных языках, вспомним статью Светланы Ким, фильм Натальи Ли, анонс мультимедийного проекта Виктории Ким, сегодня, в начале Нового года, идея закрепится на сайте тегом “Корё сарам без границ”.

В этом проекте будут опубликованы работы наших корё сарамовских писателей, ученых, исследователей, которые вызвали интерес за границей русскоязычного мира. Эта акция, надеюсь, поднимет наш статус и будет охранять его от провинциализма (узбекского, казахского ли, российского), а также укрепит наше достоинство – нас мало но мы, корё сарам, сильные без поблажек.

Начинаем проект с эссе Александра Кана AN ALIEN’S COMPLEX

Alexandr Kan. Foto Viktor An

ALEXANDER  KAN

AN ALIEN’S COMPLEX

(Translated by the Literary Agency “Diaspora”)

In my not long life time I happened to stay in different regions of the country and in dif­ferent ethnic surroundings Stoically enduring the master’s stares, I would catch myself at the poignant unrealizable desire to disappear out of sight, to get instantaneously as small as a speck of dust, a grain of sand already not to be able to materialize in anybody’s con­sciousness Let me call it a complex of an abnormal creature This feeling, or rather atti­tude to the world, I dare suppose, is natural to all Koreans, deported in the nineteen thirties or the group of creative Korean intellectuals who were compelled to stay in the Soviet Union for well-known political reasons, to say nothing of my colleagues (I deliberate as minor be­ing part of major) I believe it is right here -to speak about, the complex of a socially ab­normal creature as well as about the burden of the social view which the aliens had to bear. It is immaterial what the master’s stare meant – sympathy or chauvinistic-minded contemptuous condescension History knows a lot of examples of both acceptance and rejection of an alien, often declared by the state – closure of Korean schools, deportation itself were the result of long indelible consequences of the policy of suspicion of any na­tionality Of importance is the fact that the feeling, of being an alien, of on internal guest has been consolidated in the ethnic group and has become an inalienable part of its atti­tude to the world From this viewpoint Kazakhstan and Central Asia may have become a “blissful” region since racial differences among the Korean residents here were less notice­able

I am sure that when considering the consequences of this social complex it is worth­while to speak about dotted consciousness of not only an individual person, but of the en­tire national group or even of any diaspora conformably to soviet conditions This problem is also of artistic and scientific interest, however it is a matter of a separate article In this particular case we are interested in what was the process of narrowing of man’s con­sciousness, what was the angle of inclination for the cone of his vanishing consciousness, if we think geometrically and in images.

A As a means of survival one always has a possibility to switch over entirely to work. Work might be of no interest at all, monotonous and frequently senseless, but the socially abnormal creature was, evidently, ready to do any job only to justify some way his existence on a few squares of the land always foreign, to him As an example, we can recall Koreans doing agricultural work, this arduous labour lasting, for months and months which in some way has become a hereditary “privilege” for several generations of Koreans who work not much assisted by other ethnic groups After all work was a salutary possibility for an alien to “rehabilitate” himself in the eyes of society. That all happily went with the inborn industry of a Korean and with the Christian, centuries-old moral of non-resistance to evil With some rectification, though Getting a cuff on one cheek a Korean, I am sure, is unlikely to hold up the other. He would sooner droop his eyes and continue his work As a matter of fact the posture of meekness with the low drooped head, but stoically upright back is the Korean’s natural pose, be it, a peasant of the 13th century or a junior research associate of the 2Oth century

  1. There is another way of survival This is a kind of social mimicry, an international form of existence without a certain ethnic tint, though, judging by everyday life, the percentage of people of different ethnic groups who have confronted -this lot must be mutable. I mean the class of soviet top officials as the supreme goal of human activity, as well as the highest echelons of any sphere of activity – science, culture, engineering In some way it is going, nap for the alien, subversion of the very point of awareness, if we use the estab­lished notions, – the nap tied up with such human qualities as active “tracing” hypocrisy, adventurism, even a risk, and, of course, with moral mobility as the basis Aliens, attaining success in this field, are inordinary, they have a special gift their way to the summit was much more difficult for them than for representatives of original inhabitants It is also worth noting that during the-first-ever-. in-history-of-the-Koreans reception of a numerous soviet delegation in 1989 in Seoul the prime attention, according to traditional Korean respect for rank, was shown to representatives of top echelons in every field of human activity. If such a method may be lawful for the sphere of art, application of ii, to representatives of sci­ence, namely, of social sciences or some management evokes more than a squandary, as, of course, the South Koreans have no idea about who and how finds his way to corridors of power in soviet conditions.
  2. The third way is the so called social dregs or the way of going to seed. People, taking this way, are, as it is customary to consider, week people with suggestive psyche, unable to overcome obstacles, placed in their way, tor the. sake of relatively respectable, “decorous” existence. Such people, as a rule, are not many among the Koreans. The main reason for it is the fact that one, placed in extremal conditions, is incapable, genetically cannot cease fighting.
  3. One more way, the way of unlabored profit owing to the presence of various state-owned establishments whose workers have a chance to live securely on account of eternal shortage resulting from the inert unstable state economy. It is equally right here, as in point B, to speak about disappearance in man of both the voluminous figure of consciousness and the point itself, the apex, the cone which results in purely materialized existence of people, devoid of spirit and thought. Hence the appearance of spiritual mutants, bats, non-national – phenomena, emergence of beings, firm on the earth and amorphous from the ethical and aesthetical viewpoint, of beings aggressive and abnormal without inspiration for high attainments. It is a sad fact, but the number of them is rapidly growing in society, including those among the Koreans.

To conclude this part it should be noted that the present article gives no sociological data intentionally as the aim of the work is to denote artistically the tendencies of socio-cultural changes of the Korean diaspora and to try and comprehend them. I take the liberty of adducing, this deliberation with a primary theoretical premise: the fate of soviet Koreans is congenial to the fate of the people that unexpectedly found itself in a black hole which has become blacker in the past seventy years and reached the depths of the entire diaspora’ s vision of the world.

I happened to work in different capacities – as a navy of a cemetery, a long-distance train conductor, a loader, a theatre mounter, a restaurant cleaner, a physics master, a jun­ior research associate and so on. That all would enrich my life experience. My work in the theatre helped me master the-Korean language. Then I was a waiter in a Korean coopera­tive cafe. Acquiring the next profession in turn I realized that that was a certain life style which enabled me to grasp the multiformity of other people’s life styles.

It is interesting to watch Koreans during great festivities. Numerous official congratula­tions on the occasion arc followed by a wave of patriotic zeal which rolls over the tables with an ever growing swiftness. It is usually begun by some “prestigious” elderly person who, according to soviet canons, has won a certain place in society. When making drinking speeches, they, as a rule, remember a bout the other tongue, culture, art and, finally, what it must be like, i. e. everything what the present day soviet Korean is deprived of. This all is sincerely declared, intended as a kind of behest for the rapidly growing descendants. But at this the speaker seem to forget innocently that that was the lot of their generation to go through the final severance of the traditions and language, to say nothing of art. It was they and their fathers who had to bear all the burden of the policy of social suspicion, and we, certainly, have no right to censure those who once obediently drooped their heads and accepted the rules of the established game. It is known that there were people who took another way – those ho refused to lodge information against their compatriots, served their term in prisons and died in prisons. However, it is evident that we can speak about regulari­ties in the process of forcible genetic selection or practical implementation of the principles of soviet eugenics.

I have recently heard the story of some individuals who tried to return to their mother country some time ago No sooner had they found themselves on the native land than they began to kiss it fitfully, to knock their heads repentantly against it with exclamations of happiness and Joy, now and then cramming handfuls of earth into their mouth But some time later under the pressure of the totalitarian regime they had to leave their never found mother country Stepping on the old new ‘ native” land they started to perform the same ceremony with the same fervour Here, I presume, we may speak of the phenomenon of profoundly moral craziness as a derivative of the complex of the socially abnormal creature of whom we spoke above This is sure to evoke the most candid compassion But let us go back to the Jubilees

Several hours later, depending on the amount of wine imbibed, the wave of patriotic zeal abates and the people become port, complex free, forget about their Korean language in which they are never well up. The memory about the Good wishes of their elders is lost as rapidly, the intercourse proceeds in the form or Jokes, anecdotes, facetious sayings, revo­lutions at the customary informal level, with possible threats, arguments and brawls in the soviet style, so to speak, and suddenly everything gets interrupted with an immediate, sur­prisingly friendly desire to sing a Russian song – “Katyusha”, “A Young Cossack Making Merry on the Don”. Oh, praise be to primordial Russian songs, most opportunely answering transports of the soul which suddenly disengages itself from the control of reason, longs for infinite Russian expanses, for freedom, eternal freedom    Eternal praise be to them It is here that a Korean should be “caught”, not in close officiousness of excogitated pa­triotic speeches, but in an internal revelry of one who has forgotten about the psychological bounds by which one usually restricts oneself Now everything already blends in a heartfelt song, calling for freedom, and only some old woman sits at the table with a face exressing nothing and faintly moves her lips We shall leave the singing people for a while, carefully watch her wrinkled face, listen to her whisper

It must be said with confidence that Korean old women are a phenomenon of aesthetical character, not yet learned by anyone, an enigma escaping unread before our eyes Peering into their motionless, wrinkled faces, I was always surprised at the fatal impossibility to establish a sound contact with them First, due to the language barrier, second, there is some magical, bewitching immobility in their faces, mummy-faces that take away with them the mystery of the whole people into nonentity I am profoundly sure that they carry the re­mains of culture, folk-lore, traditions, fragments of some broken mirror of art in the wrinkles of their faces, clothes, palms, in the black slits of their eyes, where, alas, it is impossible to understand anything – those are mask-openings through which disappearing History and Culture still look at you They impart to us their vital energy only by means of domestic or kitchen utensils, meals at length – through what they can concretely help you – to feed, to cure, to comfort. This is a fully sated silence which will never be broken

Alas, we would long “create” culture in kitchens, in small flats with curtained windows, intentionally narrowing its meaning to everyday use of postcards, table-cloths and curtains made in the oriental style We would give it a decorative and applied form But when time came to go outside, we had nothing to wave with, only old women’s time rotted fans to in-n them that we had been only temporary missing and arisen from the catacombs of time That is not the most terrible thing, though Most dreadful is the fact that going out doors, the aliens who have suddenly been granted great rights lately took out with them from darkness, from dampness and dust their own narrowness of views, of the world out­look – the slit of awareness which they had used to look on the world for many a year with­out a legal gleam of hope Neither should we forget the drain of the creative and intellec­tual potential of the Diaspora the people were compelled to busy themselves with agricul­ture in order to survive When the people came to think of art, they could not, well, and cannot undertake anything but try and cut anyhow A wedding dress for Art to betroth it to the community. Marriages seem to be fictitious, the dress gives at the seams, if we speak about literature and activities of the Korean theater If soviet Korean literature, namely poetry, proceeds directly from stoic loyalty to the totalitarian socialist principles and bears its faith, though often already as a world-outlook stigma, the theatrics activities, in part, con­cert activities – “Anana”, less bound ideologically, are nothing but, amateur theatricals In­cidentally, this is a direct consequence of “creating” culture in kitchens with principles of classical dance and music forming the basis which look as irrelevant and ponderous dog­mas, if mechanically composed

As regards Russian language Korean prose, any representative of it constantly under­goes unprovoked attacks on the part of the vernacular language zealots, asking him whose writer – Korean or Russian – he is Elder generation men of letters, whose time saw the complete decline of cultural traditions, are of a rather firm opinion that a Korean writer must write about the Koreans in Korean These are more than strange demands, if we are to re­member that those people, adapting themselves to the existing regime, deprived their chil­dren of any national aesthetically education. This all might be called spasms of several generations which lost their orientation in space and time.

The so-called young prose represents few, deeply incorrigible singletons, where each of them, kind of excavating himself, wanders on his own paths which are not often found on the map of literature This may not be bad at all, as the poet said one always looks for truth singly It is a true statement, but only partly I would only like to note that young prose, in my opinion, is face with a danger of truncating creative awareness to the point, to the triumph of solitary world-look provincialism which is sure to bring – or has already brought – the prose of “minor peoples” to the notion “minor prose of minor peoples”

The opinion, set forth in the article, is evidently disputable But the basic problem has been outlined here and it exists independently of our viewpoints. Now it has only to be solved.

Alma-Ata, 1990

 

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