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Potential of Central Asia

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By Eugene Lee

Despite being a six- or seven-hour flight away, Central Asia for many in Korea remains terra incognita, an exotic land. However, in reality it is close and attractive to Korea.

Among many others, I find two reasons to that attract immediate interest: the presence of a Korean diaspora and the current economic clout pursued by governments in the region. Even if the first few Korean families arrived in the region in the mid-1920s, a huge spike began from a major forced deportation by Stalin from the Soviet Far East to the then Soviet republics of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in the summer of 1937.

By the end of several waves of these deportations, according to the documents 171,781 ethnic Koreans (36,442 families, but the exact number is still being disputed) were thrown in 124 cargo and cattle train cars and relocated.

Many of these ethnic Koreans were involved in the construction of North Korean statehood, and some even worked as North Korean ambassadors and diplomats. For example, the main negotiator who signed........

© The Korea Times