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31.03.2014 г.

Lubyanka ninja: 7 names of Roman Kim

Kulanov A.

The name of Roman Nikolaevich Kim is well-known to Russian specialists in Japanese studies and crime novel fans. For the firsts he is the translator of Akutagawa Ryunosuke and some other Japanese novelists and one of the best soviet Japan studies experts of the first half of XX century brilliant in Japanese language. For the others he is an author of original political detective novels, a man who introduced the word ninja into Russian literature. In 2013 a book «Showdown: Security service of USSR and Japan (1918-1945)» by a former state security service official Mozokhin gave impulse to Kim's biography careful study as in the book he is introduced as a Japanese agent who was planted into soviet security service and successfully worked there for almost twenty years.

The review of Kim's biography revealed that he was much more known in Japan than in Russia due to the published memorials of journalist H. Otake and researches of literary scholar H. Kimura. Matching those facts with Mozokhin's book material along with the existing record of R.N. Kim finally helped reveal the mystery of this japonologist-detective's biography. Final clarity of the case (as it possible in such complex and delicate matter) was brought by the footages provided by the secret service historian Buyakov A.M., who once studied personal file of R.N. Kim - senior lieutenant and head of Japanese department of soviet counterintelligence.

Roman Kim indicated seven different names that he used for his autobiographies, various questionnaires and during questioning after he was arrested on charges of espionage in favor of Japan in 1937. It strongly seems that Kim had been intentionally tangling his biography continuously inventing new facts and details, changing his own name and names of his real and adopting parents and mentors in order to gain control on his life in case of emergency. That was exactly what happened in April 1937 when he was arrested but managed to make a shocking confession to the investigators of his case (and later investigators of all cases of the repressed Moscow specialists in Japanese studies mostly executed later on). The information he gave was immediately reported to Stalin himself (report is still under seal at the Archive of the President of the Russian Federation because of its secrecy). As a result Kim received an unexpected verdict, and managed to save his own life and life of his wife - a future famous Japan studies scholar and those days KGB lieutenant M. S. Zin.

As Kim got liberty back he started to write political crime stories and study history of ninjutsu. However it appears that his main achievement in this field was the fact that he told young novelist Yulian Semenov a story of a bolshevic intelligence agent Maxim Maximovich who used to work together with Kim under cover of a journalist in Vladivostok during the civil war that resulted in a novel about Maxim Isaev better known as agent Schtirlitz.

For full text see: IOCS Works («Orientalia et Classica» Series) History and culture of traditional Japan. 7 / Ed. A.N.Mesheryakov, RSUH. Moscow, 2014.
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