North Koreans in Hungary

Following the Korean War, the North Korean government sent a sizable group of children (some orphans) and young adults abroad to the Eastern European, Soviet-allied states. Of the two thousand or so that were sent abroad, between 1950 and 1957 two hundred North Koreans arrived at Hungary. Many of these Koreans traveled as exchange students and attended academic institutions in Budapest. When the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 began, however, many of these North Korean migrants remarkably fought alongside the anti-Soviet Hungarian forces. Using their experience in the Korean War, they taught Hungarian counterparts how to use guns and military equipment and thoroughly participated. Though it is uncertain how politically motivated these students were, many North Koreans also provided medical support for those in need. At the same time these North Koreans were helping, a faction of South Koreans at Yonsei University was vigorously trying to rally support for the Pro-Hungarian, anti-communist forces, and at one point even tried to send their own volunteers to fight alongside the Hungarians. Taken together, these two narratives are as unbelievable as they are seldom known. They are another indicator of the intertwined and lasting relationships that emerged after and during the Korean and Cold War.

Further Reading and References:

From North Korea to Budapest: North Korean Students in the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 by Mózes Csoma (2016)


“Forgotten Era, Forgotten People: The North Korean Diaspora”, Bogook Kim, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies:

Izumi, Hajime. “North Korea and the Changes in Eastern Europe.” Korean Studies 16 (1992): 1-12.

Website Links, Articles, and Films:


North Korean Students in the Hungarian Uprising:

The Story of Zang Gi Hong, First North Korean Naturalized in the US who fought in Hungary:

Cultural Ties and Legacies between Korea and Hungary:

A Hungarian-American on the Hungarian Uprising and his North Korean Friend:

Review of Hungary and Korean Relations: