By Deane Barker

The historical name for a region of Eastern Russia, Northeast China and Eastern Mongolia. This was never an official country or territory, just an informal name – like, “the Midwest.”

The area referred to as “Manchuria” has been occupied by both China and Russia. It comprises the extreme Eastern tip of Asia, across the Sea of Japan from the Japanese main island. North Korea extend southward from the Manchurian region.

China rejects the name “Manchuria.” Today, it has been divided up into several different provinces.

Why I Looked It Up

It came up in a book about the history of the oil industry.

Also, I had read and watched The Manchurian Candidate.

In that book, a soldier is captured by the Soviets during the Korean War and taken to Manchuria where he is brainwashed. Later, the solider is back in the United States, and the Soviets attempt to trigger him into killing the president so the compromised vice-president can take his place.

I read the book years ago, but I don’t remember exactly where they took the soldier to be brainwashed – all the summaries just say “Manchuria,” which I’m assuming to be somewhere north of North Korea in an area that was under Soviet control in the 50s. Or perhaps the extreme northern edge of North Korea?

Oddly, in the book, the brainwashed soldier was never the “candidate.” The title apparently refers to the vice-president, who is “the candidate of the Manchurians”…who were actually the Soviets?

When you dig into it, the title seems weird. I feel like it should have been “The Soviet Candidate” or “The Manchurian Assassin.”

Today, the phrase “Manchurian Candidate” is used to refer to someone running for elected office that will be “activated” by an enemy once they are in power. (Though, again, that wasn’t quite the plot of the book.)