To this day, no one knows exactly what Joseph Stalin had in mind when he ordered the relocation of some 170,000 ethnic Koreans from a small corner of the Soviet Far East to unsettled regions of Central Asia in 1937. It’s safe to say, however, that an unassuming café in Brooklyn was not one of them.
Although owner Elza Kan told Public Radio International that she felt “absolutely 100% Korean, from inside out,” she speaks mostly Russian. The flatscreen hugging the pastel-orange wall of her café in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach neighborhood (also known as “Little Odessa”) plays Russian-language shows and music videos. Raised in Uzbekistan, Kan is part of a community known as Koryo Saram.
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