Junbae Jo. Towards a New Modernity: Korean Historiography of Perestroika and the Collapse of the Soviet Union

Junbae Jo. Towards a New Modernity: Korean Historiography of Perestroika and the Collapse of the Soviet Union [K novoj sovremennosti: korejskaya istoriografiya Perestrojki i krah Sovetskogo soyuza]. Istoricheskij vestnik / Historical Reporter. Vol. 32. 2020. P. 158—183.

Чжо Чжун вэ. К новой современности: корейская историография Перестройки и крах Советского союза // Исторический вестник. 2020. Т. ХXХII. С. 158—183.

Keywords: Korea, the Soviet Union, Perestroika, Gorbachev, Reform, Ideology, Politics, Economy, Nationalities Question, Russian Orthodox Church.

Ключевые слова:



Korean historiography of Perestroika and its resulting dissolution of the Soviet Union shows in what way a country under the dual system of cold war and division sought to understand the historical experience of an alien and even opposing regime in the northern world. Generally, Korean scholars’ recognitions and analyses of such history were very partial and did not reach at a high level, although some of them demonstrated fine achievements equipped with fresh methodologies and a lot of various materials. Ideological foundations of the Soviet regime came under inspection in Korea as early as in the middle of Perestroika. Many of social scientists and historians actively jumped into the study of the dynamics of Soviet statecraft as politics was the main stage where Gorbachev’s reform was vigorously carried out. The changes of the Soviet economy under Perestroika were another subject for Korean scholars to research from its early years as they formed the heart of Gorbachev’s reform, especially in the late 1980s. Nationalities question and the Russian orthodox church of the Perestroika era were the area in which professional research was undertaken relatively later in Korea, contrary to their role in maintaining or strengthening identity and nationalism among the Soviet population. However, it is evident that Perestroika provided Koreans with an invaluable opportunity for a full-scale study on the Soviet Union as both countries established diplomatic ties with each other in 1990. In addition, the story of Soviet socialism and its demise allowed Korean intellectuals to think over what prospect and possibility the humanity could have for their future lives. In conclusion, the Soviet times gave an indication about what direction they would take and what efforts they should make.


  1. Ahn T. The August Putsch: The Collapse of the Soviet Union and the Birth of Russia // The Journal of Northeast Asia Research. 1995. Vol. 1. No. 1. P. 339–363.

  2. Chang D. An Analysis of Soviet Economic Reform Ideas during the Perestroika Era: From the Perspective of Collective Learning // The Korean Journal of International Studies. 1997. Vol. 37. No. 1. P. 169–209.

  3. Chang W. Perestroika and Reinterpretation of Leninism // Korea and World Politics. 1990. Vol. 6. No. 2. P. 155–182.

  4. Chun H. Soviet Socialism and Perestroika // The Korean Journal of Area Studies. 1991. Vol. 3. P. 123–154.

  5. Cohen S. Perestroika did not fail // Korea Forum Monthly. 1991. Vol. 20. P. 228–229.

  6. Eom G. The Analysis of Political and Administrative System of the Soviet Union after Perestroika // The Korean Journal of Public Administration. 1993. Vol. 2. No. 3. P. 3154–3175; No. 4. P. 4119–4139.

  7. Ha Y. Perestroika and Political Reform: Around the Reform of Soviets // A Symposium of Institute of International Studies. 1989. Vol. 13. P. 35–51.

  8. Ha Y. Perestroika and the Role of the Communist Party: Around the Redefinition of Its Identity // Social Sciences and Policy Review. 1990. Vol. 12. No. 2. P. 81–105.

  9. Han H. Gorbachev’s Perestroika and Nationalities Question in the USSR // Teacher Education Research. 1992. Vol. 25. P. 119–136.

  10. Huang S. Perestroika and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union // Forum. 1990. Vol. 198. P. 1–34.

  11. Hwang T. Soviet Perestroika for More Socialism // The Quarterly Changbi. 1988. Vol. 16. No. 3. P. 274–307.

  12. Hwang Y. The Nationalistic Characteristics of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Period of Perestroika // Journal of International Area Studies. 1998. Vol. 2. No. 4. P. 131–150.

  13. Hwang Y. The Revival of Ukrainian National Church and the Russian Orthodox Church // Журнал славяноведения. 1998. Vol. 13. No. 1. P. 283–307.

  14. Jang Y. The Crisis of Marxism and the Failure of Perestroika // Korean Political Science Review. 1996. Vol. 30. No. 1. P. 69–88.

  15. Jo J. Korean Historiography of the Russian Revolution: Beyond the Cold War Ideology //1917 год в Евразии. M., 2017. С. 39.

  16. Jung K. An Assessment of Gorbachev’s Reform Policy // Journal of Unification Studies. 1998. Vol. 11. P. 95–117.

  17. Kee Y. The Collapse of Socialism in the USSR and Eastern Europe and Nationalism // Korean Studies Quarterly. 1995. Vol. 18. No. 3. P. 81–96.

  18. Kim B. The Background and Objectives of Perestroika // The Korean Journal of International Studies. 1990. Vol. 29. No. 2. P. 197–205.

  19. Kim H. The Revival of Russian Orthodox Church after Perestroika // Slavic Studies. 1996. Vol. 12. P. 93–124.

  20. Kim J. Perestroika and Historical Materialism Revisited // Silcheon Munhak. 1990. December. P. 64–91.

  21. Kim S. Study on the Model of Self-managerial Industrial Relations in Socialist Enterprises: Focused on Soviet Enterprises under Perestroika. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation. Seoul National University, 1992.

  22. Kim S. The Direction of Perestroika and Its Historical Meanings // Korean Journal of Political Economy. 1988. Vol. 1. No. 1. P. 237–252.

  23. Kim S. The Dissolution of the Soviet Union and Gorbachev’s Resignation // The Unified Korea. 1992. Vol. 98. P. 66–69.

  24. Kim Y. Gorbachev’s Perestroika // The Unified Korea. 1988. Vol. 55. P. 78–80.

  25. Kim Y. Perestroika and Nomenklatura // Bulletin of Korean History Society. 1991. No. 8. P. 4–5.

  26. Kim Y. Soviet Economic Reform and Perestroika // Economy and Society. 1990. Vol. 5. P. 45–81.

  27. Koo J. Why the Soviet Union Collapsed: Soviet Nationalities Question and the Invented Pandora’s Box // e-Eurasia. 2010. Vol. 28. P. 14–17.

  28. Kozlovskii V. The Reform of Eastern Europe and Perestroika // Epoch and Philosophy. 1990. Vol. 1. No. 3. P. 275–301.

  29. Kwon H. Perestroika and the Reinterpretation of Bolshevik History // Critical Review of History. 1990. No. 8. P. 179–206.

  30. Kwon S. A Study on the Process of the Collapse of Soviet Communist System. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation. Seoul National University, 1994.

  31. Lee K. Soviet National Question under the Whirlwind of Perestroika // The Unified Korea. 1991. Vol. 89. P. 24–29.

  32. Lee S. The Collapse of the Soviet Union and the Change of the Political System: Around Its Causes and Backgrounds // Journal of Sino-Soviet Studies. 1991. Vol. 17. P. 133–159.

  33. Lee W. Gorbachev’s Economic Reform: Focused on Price Reform and Enterprise Autonomy // Jeonbuk Public Administration Review. 1999. Vol. 13. P. 205–239.

  34. Nam E. A Study on Socialist Development Experience and Reforms in U.S.S.R.: Concerning Gorbachev’s Perestroika // Society and History. 1990. Vol. 18. P. 203–290.

  35. Paik N. The Double Project of Modernity // New Left Review. 2015. No. 95. P. 65–79.

  36. Park S. Perestroika and the Stalin Question: The Emergence of Memorial // Russian Studies. 2005. Vol. 15. No. 2. P. 129–160.

  37. Park Y. Perestroika and a Critical Review on the Theory of Socialist Economy // Koreanische Zeitschrift fuer Wirtschaftswissenschaften. 1991. Vol. 9. P. 97–109.

  38. Shin J. Perestroika in the Soviet Union: Politics // The Unified Korea. 1989. Vol. 65. P. 86–98; vol. 70. P. 40–45.

  39. Sobchak A., Ha Y. The Destiny of Gorbachev: The Key is Economic Stabilization // Shindonga. April 1991. P. 427–437.

  40. Woo P. CPSU’s Control over Party Members and the Collapse of the Party // The Journal of Peace Studies. 2018. Vol. 19. No. 3. P. 161–185.

  41. Woo P. Russian Nationalism and the Collapse of the Soviet Union: An Analysis on the Role of Russian Nationalism in the Process of Union Dissolution. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation. Korea University, 1997.

  42. Yoon K., Lee B., Lee H. & Choi J. Philosophical Reflection on Perestroika: Modern Society and the Question of Humanity // Epoch and Philosophy. 1990. Vol. 1. No. 3. P. 11–38.

  43. Youn S. Eradication of Perestroika?: Two Main Issues // Journal of Hanshin University. 1990. Vol. 7. P. 169–184.

Чжо Чжун вэ — доктор философии, доцент Университета Совон, Республика Корея.

Junbae Jo — Assistant professor at the Seowon University (Republic of Korea).

Номер журнала, к которому относится содержание