Spotlight on 1943 Seoul: A Glimpse into the Russian Tatar Refugee Community, Marja Ibrahim’s Poetry Tribute to Tatar National Poet Ğabdulla Tuqay on the 30-year anniversary of his death

Following on from a previous post about the small community of Russian Tatars residing in Seoul in 1943, I’m glad to bring you fresh insights from two additional articles I’ve discovered from that era—two articles published in March and April 1943, respectively. These pieces provide further details on the lives and experiences of the Russian Tatars who were exiled from their homeland.

In the previous post, we delved into the interesting story of a 19-year-old Tatar woman named Martiya Ibrahim, who was extolled by the colonial regime for her selfless leadership within her diasporic community. Intriguingly, this April 1943 article introduces us to another figure, a 20-year-old Tatar woman named Marja Ibrahim. She is depicted reciting an epic poem in a poignant tribute to Ğabdulla Tuqay, a celebrated Tatar national poet. This leaves us with an intriguing question—could Martiya and Marja be the same person?

An additional facet of interest emerges from the March 1943 article, shedding light on how even in colonial Korea, foreign communities were not exempt from the far-reaching grip of the war. It reveals that war donation efforts were an expectation levied not only upon the local population, but also on the foreign diaspora residing there. This compelling detail draws us deeper into the complexities of life in 1943 Seoul, from a unique perspective rarely explored.


Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) March 26, 1943
To the Wounded Warriors
Donations from Turkic Muslims

As the movements of Muslims within the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere through Burma and India, draw attention, playing an increasingly significant role behind the scenes of the battlefield, a Muslim group composed of Turkic Tatars residing in Seoul said, “We owe our peaceful day-to-day lives entirely to the greatness of Japan, and we must especially express our sincere gratitude for the efforts of the warriors wounded in the Greater East Asia War.”

Under the advocacy of Mr. Yankuraj (70), the head imam of the Muslim group living at 106-3, Wakakusa-chō [present-day Cho-dong (초동)], Seoul, Mr. Muslin (50), a Turkic Tatar who runs a Western clothing store on Namdaemun Street in the Golden District, along with over ten others, brought 118 yen to the Honmachi police station on March 25th. Simultaneously, a children’s group contributed 65 yen. They stated, “It’s a small amount, but we are offering our savings as consolation money for Japan’s brave wounded warriors,” which deeply moved Police Chief Masaoka. [Photo = Turkic Tatar Muslim group donating consolation money to wounded warriors]

Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) April 11, 1943
Tatars are commemorating a Patriot Poet
Welfare visits in the city

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the death of Mr. Ğabdulla Tuqay, revered as a national poet, the Turkic Tatar Cultural Association in Seoul plans to host a memorial service on his death anniversary. The service will take place at noon on the upcoming 15th at the Hasegawa Town Christian Youth Center. They will pay tribute to Mr. Tuqay, the patriot poet who passed away young, and remember his achievements.

On the day of the event, Miss Marja Ibrahim (20), who resides in Honmachi 3-chōme, will be performing a recitation of a long poem, along with charming children’s poetry dramas, to commemorate the great deeds of the pioneers of Asian revival. [Photo = Miss Marja Ibrahim reciting poetry]


1943年3月26日 京城日報


1943年4月11日 京城日報


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