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Chongryon’s Enduring Legacy: Uncertain Future of Resident North Koreans in Japan Open Access

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This Master’s thesis seeks to understand the future of the organization of Chongryon, the North Korean homeland oriented organization in Japan, and their influence in the Zainichi community of Japan. Chongryon dominated as the main civil society group of the Korean community in Japan during the mid-twentieth century. However, in the twenty-first century their membership is declining and they have faced many conflicts with the law in Japan, leading to speculation that the group might cease to exist in the future. Through an examination of Chongryon’s own website as a primary source to assess the group’s public image and stated core values, as well as a thorough examination of the history of the organization through various challenges in the mid to late twentieth century, this paper argues that the staying power of Chongryon will outlast the current issues, even if it has reduced influence in the Korean community. The group has endured despite crackdowns on their illegal activities and seizure of assets by the government, and the threat of their continued ability to funnel money to the North Korean government despite reduced relevance to the Zainichi community means that the Japanese government should not underestimate Chongryon going forward.

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