Sharing the looks of Koreans, but not speaking a word of Korean. The Koryoins are descendants of people from the Joseon Dynasty who were forcibly migrated to Central Asian countries by the Soviet Union. Unlike ethnic Koreans in other areas, these Koryoins are not much addressed to and often forgotten in the Korean society. Also, many Koryoins living abroad are often confused about their national identity. Karandashi is an organization that aims to help them learn Korean and keep their original roots as Koreans. Karandashi began with four Korea University students majoring in Russian Language and Literature. After taking a class about Koryoin, they came to think of translating Korean traditional stories into Russian and distributing books to Koryoins in Central Asia. Their goal was to introduce Korean language and culture to young Koryoins living in and outside of Korea by distributing the traditional stories written in both Korean and Russian. This idea was first developed into a small-scale project in 2015 and later became a proper organization under Institute of Russia-CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) Studies in Korea University, under the name Karandashi. Now, members from last year and new members of this year are working to continue its goal. Karandashi is composed of five teams: translation, illustration, international affairs, and finance. The translation team dramatizes a Korean traditional story and translates it into Russian, receiving help from professors in the process. The illustration team draws illustrations for the book, while the international affairs team deals with advertisements and contacting foreign organizations. Finally, the finance team manages finances. After the book is published, Karandashi sends books to several Central Asian countries such as Maritime Territory in Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. They also send books to Koryoin organizations in Ansan and Gwangju, Korea. “We are not only sending books abroad but also distributing them by ourselves,” said Baek Ji-yoon, the current head of Karandashi. “At the end of July, we are going to visit Kazakhstan and Almaty and distribute the books there.” The book that will be published soon includes six Korean traditional stories, such as “Red Bean Porridge Granny and Tiger,” “The Rabbit and the turtle,” and “Ondal the Fool and Princess Pyeonggang.” About 1,500 books are planned to be published at the end of May. During the time spent in Karandashi, Baek mentioned that she acquired a lot of memorable experiences. “One of the most memorable moments is when Russian students who found out about Karandashi on Russian media came to the administrative office for cultural exchange with us,” Baek said. “I was really surprised to see that they came directly to the university from so far away. The culture exchange event gave me the opportunity to meet Koryoins for the first time.” Another notable occasion was when some radio stations requested Karandashi for interviews. “We were on MBC and KBS radio to introduce Karandashi,” Baek said. “All these times became a good experience for all members.” Although Karandashi’s books are well distributed, it faces some difficulties during the process. As it publishes and distributes books as a non-profit volunteer service, it needs external financial support. They usually focus on crowd funding through advertisement on Facebook, and by taking part in some contests that are related to social contribution. Despite the difficulties, Karandashi continues with its contribution to spreading Korean language and culture. Their next goals include holding events like storytelling for visiting countries, and distributing books by delivery.
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