Koreans from Uzbekistan in LA

by Laurence on 8/25/2004 · 3 comments

Borscht is a sweet and sour concoction of beets, potatoes and cabbage. And you’ll find it in every Russian home, including Elza Rafikova’s in Koreatown, where it is offered up to visitors with pride.

The traditional dish is comfort food for Elza, 58, who was born and raised in Uzbekistan, a Central Asian country that was once part of the Soviet Union. A third-generation Korean, Elza’s grandparents were among the thousands of Koreans who immigrated to Russia in the early 1900s to escape the threat of Japanese colonial rule. Her parents were both born in Russia, but then migrated to Uzbekistan in 1937, when Soviet Premier Josef Stalin ordered the forced movement of nearly 200,000 Koreans to the western Soviet Union, particularly to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in the belief that Koreans would spy for the Japanese.

Koreans lived quite peacefully among their peers in these countries, until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to the formation of new independent nations. Uzbekistan, in particular, distanced itself from its former Russian rule and began enforcing the Uzbek language.

A widow with a daughter, Elza was vice president of a teacher’s college at the time, but began to experience backlash from peers who expected her to speak Uzbek.

Full story at Pacific News Service :


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{ 1 comment }

that site October 8, 2004 at 1:52 am

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