By Min, Anarchist Library
A short historical summary of the forgotten Korean project known as Shinmin Prefecture and Korean People’s Association in Manchuria. This was a self-governing region of around two million people from 1929 to 1931.
Many Koreans gathered in Manchuria to avoid oppression from the Japanese Empire, following the Japanese colonization of the Korean peninsula, forming their own society there. Kim Jong-jin, inspired by anarchism under Yi Hoe-yeong, aspired to “create a society in which all were equal without privilege and discrimination, free to develop and improve as they pleased”. He believed that in order to achieve a revolutionary movement it was necessary to maintain a long struggle with a detailed plan and robust organization and that Manchuria was an appropriate spot for a base. He divided and surveyed the region before reporting the results to Kim Jwa-jin, suggesting a reformation of the Shinmin prefecture in order to prevent invasion by Marxist-Leninists. His aim was to defeat those who espoused “scientific socialism,” and hold a long struggle against Japanese imperialism.
Meanwhile, in Manchuria, Korean anarchists created an organization called “Freedom Youth Organization”(FYO, 자유청년회) whose members were working throughout. Kim Jong-jin, along with Yi Dal and Kim Ya-bong, gathered all members and formed “Black Friend League”(BFL, 흑우연맹) focusing on propagating anarchism. More youth organizations converged under the activities of “Black Friend League” and formed “North Manchuria Korean Youth League”(NMKYL, 북만한인청년연맹) which also studied anarchism with a focus on enlightenment of the population. Kim Jong-jin and Yi Eul-gyu subsequently established the Korean Anarchist Federation in Manchuria (재만조선무정부주의자연맹) using “North Manchuria Korean Youth League” as a base.
Meanwhile, nationalists in Manchuria failed to unify the factions of three prefectures, and their innovative congress disbanded without making much progress. As a result of their expropriating resources from the populace while reigning over them, the nationalists were losing support and the populace was leaning towards the Marxist-Leninists. Feeling threatened by this development, the nationalists and anarchists joined forces to create the Korean People’s Association in Manchuria (KPAM; 한족총연합회).