This is an interesting story concerning how China’s new openness has given ethnic Koreans (Chaoxian Ren) opportunities to work with North and South Koreans. I knew a Chaoxian girl when I was in Shanghai. She was trying to marry anyone she could to get out of China. I never found out what her father’s business was, but he was wealthy and she promised he would pay anyone who would marry her. I think it was a way for all of them to get eventually get new citizenship. As far as I know, she asked almost all the S.Korean male students, a couple of Japanese, and myself (the only American that was not married at the school).
Some interesting notes, Chaoxian ren is used in China for N.Koreans and ethnic Koreans in China, but in Japan the same characters 朝鮮 pronounced Chosen, are consider discriminatory. Before reading this article I was not aware that N.Korea had a significant business presence in China. I met some N.Koreans, while I lived in Shanghai, who owed a restaurant I frequented with the S.Korean students at my school. Very nice and humble people.
The picture below is of a crazy S.Korean nationalist who eats flags (Chinese, American, Japanese). I always found him funny and I couldn’t find anything better.
BY KIM HAN IL, STAFF WRITER
This is part of a series on ethnic Koreans living in northeast China.
A North Korean restaurant lit up in neon stands alongside a South Korean eatery in Xida, in Shenyang, Liaoning province. (KIM HAN IL/ STAFF WRITER)
BEIJING–When China and South Korea established diplomatic relations in 1992, it transformed the lives of ethnic Koreans living in this country.
With South Korean investment pouring into China, ethnic Koreans found themselves serving as a bridge between the two countries.
That, in turn, provided a jumping board for them to escape from rural communities in northeastern China, mainly in Jilin, Liaoning and Heilongjiang provinces, for the bright lights of Beijing, Seoul and other cities.
Li Yingshu, 52, was managing a small Korean restaurant in Hunchun, near the border with Russia, at the time.
The new chapter in relations with South Korea prompted her to move her business to the Chinese capital.
“It was a really remarkable incident for us,” Li said of the forging of diplomatic ties. “That drastically changed the lives of ethnic Koreans living in China.”
In addition to expanding her business operations in Beijing, Li opened restaurants in Hebei and Henan provinces. She also built a kimchi factory on a 5,000-square-meter plot in Beijing that churns out 2 tons of Korean pickles each day.
She and her business partners recently purchased 40-year leasing rights to 336,000 square meters of land in suburban Beijing. She plans to open a tae kwon do school within five years. There are about 60 million tae kwon do enthusiasts in China, according to Cui Longji, an instructor.
Just after 1992, ethnic Koreans began playing a supporting role in business activities such as hers, said Kim June Bong, a South Korean professor of architecture at the Beijing University of Technology.
“Now they grow up as business partners.”
Kim, who has written several books on China-South Korea relations, said that when the two countries normalized diplomatic relations, “South Koreans and ethnic Koreans here were connected just like distant relatives who couldn’t meet for a long time.”
But growing prosperity has not been achieved without teething problems.
South Koreans, according to their ethnic cousins in China, invariably come across as smarmy and arrogant.
So much, in fact, that ethnic Koreans are invariably offered jobs at lower wages and get no credit for their work.
South Koreans, coming from one of the world’s leading economies, tend to treat ethnic Koreans like country bumpkins.
“They would wave a U.S. $5 bill in front of us, saying, ‘Have you ever seen anything like this?”’ recalled an ethnic Korean who met with a South Korean who came to China to do business in the early 1990s.
“A Korean would wave the bill around, saying, ‘I can buy a whole restaurant with this, can’t I? They thought we didn’t know anything of the world.”
While ethnic Koreans were certainly not well-versed in the ways of capitalist thinking, they cottoned on pretty soon and, say many South Koreans, became blinded by greed.
Hordes of ethnic Koreans packed up and went to South Korea in hopes of bettering their lives. For the vast majority, only menial work awaited them.
For this reason, South Koreans treated them with disdain.
The sense of mutual mistrust in their local ethnic cousins is still strong among the roughly 700,000 South Koreans who live in China and the 200,000 or so ethnic Koreans who moved to South Korea.
By the same token, big companies like LG, Hyundai and Samsung, along with myriad small- and medium-sized firms from the South, have moved their operations to China to ride its wave of double-digit growth.
Inevitably, many get-rich-quick schemes have ended in bankruptcy.
The precise number of South Korean companies that moved to China is impossible to determine because many small firms repeatedly failed and restarted.
But in Shandong province alone, which shines like a beacon to South Korea, more than 10,000 such companies have established a foothold.
According to a recent survey, more than half of the South Korean firms there began chalking up deficits as China’s economy soared, resulting in surging wage increases for Chinese workers.
Jin Yongzhen, 29, who runs a small trading house, said the impact of South Korea on ethnic Koreans cannot be underestimated.
“Everybody, except the elderly and their dogs, have gone to South Korea,” he said. “But as far as I’m concerned, I reckon that about half of all the South Koreans who moved here are nothing more than swindlers.”
Jin’s job is to sell Chinese-made LAN cables to South Korea. Previously, he spent four years working for a South Korean company.
“I trust North Koreans than South Koreans because only selected North Koreans are allowed to go abroad. They are truly trustworthy.”
While South Korean businesses have the lion’s share of the employment market, North Korean companies also attract their fair share of Korean and Chinese workers in Shenyang, Liaoning province.
In Xida, the Korea town of China’s fifth-biggest city, North Korean restaurants are hugely popular. In August, the ninth such entity opened near Shenyang Station.
Called Eun Bangul (Silver Bells), it is the first such joint venture run by North Korean authorities and a local ethnic Korean commerce and business industry association.
“This is a rare case for North Korea. It is the only one of its type in all of China,” an association member said.
The others are either managed directly by North Korea or jointly by China-North Korean authorities.
These eateries specialize in North Korean-style singing and dancing at night. Hence, prices are several times higher than those at restaurants operated by South Koreans.
On a recent evening, the Eun Bangul restaurant was packed with Koreans wearing Kim Il Sung badges. Many patrons were South Koreans, who seemed curious about their cousins from the North.
Smiling waitresses needed no prodding to fill empty glasses. Showtimes always drew loud applause. Several performances were given, all at no charge.
According to a staff member, North Korean authorities don’t worry about the waitresses defecting to China or elsewhere because they are all daughters of high-echelon officials in the government or from academia.
While the scale of business is much smaller than those run by South Korean entrepreneurs, North Korean entities are flourishing, thanks to ethnicity and blood ties.(IHT/Asahi: December 17,2007)