There are all sorts of interesting materials in the National Archives collection of Captured North Korean Documents in record group 242 that I introduced in an earlier posting. While I’m looking through files most likely to be of use in my own dissertation research, I can’t help coming across materials that are of little use to me but which might be a great starting point for research on other North Korea related topics.
For example, if you wanted to do research on issues such as migration to and from North Korea, the captured records collection includes many lists and individual files on many hundreds of foreigners (overwhelmingly Chinese and some Japanese in the files I saw) kept by North Korea’s internal affairs ministry (내무서). The files I looked through last week were mostly dated from the middle of 1947 but there appear to be a lot of files from 1949. These lists of foreigners also come from different counties throughout North Korea. They list foreign residents over the age of 18 but the files also often list family members.
I flipped through one pack of these internal ministry files, with perhaps around a hundred individual files in it, all of them of Chinese residents.1 Each file contained a range of information including the resident’s name, citizenship, current address, place of origin, date of entry into Korea, occupation, religion, family members, and how well they are doing (生活狀態 생활상태) with their condition being described with such words as good (良好 양호), not so good (下 하), or suffering difficulties (困難 곤란).
The files usually had pictures as well, but over time, the pictures that had been glued to their file often became stuck to the next file and/or smudged. Those pictures I could see clearly often showed less than happy faces. The vast majority of the Chinese listed in these 1947 files I looked at were listed as farmers, and almost all of them came from Shandong province, with just a few coming from Hebei. They mostly came to Korea in the 1930s and wartime 1940s, with a smaller cluster of files with entry dates from 1917 and another group who came in during the 1920s.
Anyone interested in doing research on migration to/from Korea in the 20th century, especially those interested in Chinese and Japanese who stayed behind in North Korea, at least for the first few years, can find a great deal of useful information in these files given the considerable quantity of them. Though I have only looked at one of these file packets, there are many of them in SA 2005 all throughout box 9 (remember, this original SA box number does not correspond to any actual box number in the national archives), including items 9/3 (100pp), 9/4 (which I looked at), 9/6 (100pp), 9/13 (684pp), 9/14 (148pp), 9/15 (4pp), 9/16 (640pp), 9/18 (1300pp), 9/24 (8pp), 9/27 (188pp), 9/35 (56pp), 9/39 (278pp), and 9/43 (150pp), all of which include such files of Japanese and Chinese residents in North Korea according to the microfilm index of the collection.
RG242 Captured Korean Documents SA 2009 9/4 (in Box 161) ↩