On a cold night in the Gobi, a tourist van, limping on three tires and a steel rim, bounced up to a ger, the circular tent of the desert nomads.
After peering into the tent, the three young tourists asked the herdsmen inside for help. The men grouchily gave them a choice: watch the last half of a South Korean soap opera on television, or wait it out under the stars.
"They were just too busy to notice us," Khorolsuren Byambasuren, the tour guide, said here, still miffed at the memory of her mid-September mishap. "They waited until midnight, when Min Sung-yong happily met Kim In-ha, at the last part of Intrigues of the Life. Then the guys enthusiastically helped us, and we were on our way to the tourist camp at 3am."
Mongolia's ancient hospitality takes a holiday during the time slot for dubbed South Korean soap operas. With Mongolia's two main television channels showing South Korean movies daily, a giant Do Not Disturb sign goes up every evening across this sparsely populated land.
Mongolians and Koreans are ethnically related peoples cut off by centuries of history. In the 13th century, Mongolians swept across China and down the Korean Peninsula, and were on the brink of invading Japan until several naval disasters changed their minds.
Mongolia's occupation of Korea left linguistic affinities, shared genes and wild horse herds, known to this day as Mongolians, on the South Korean island of Cheju, the staging base for the frustrated invasion of Japan.
Today's bonds reflect, to some degree, the solidarity of two small nations living on the edges of a rising China. Commercially, Mongolia is an outpost for Korean business. On an ethnic level, Koreans and Mongolians are like fraternal twins.
Advertising banners here implore "UB"girls to try a cosmetics line from Seoul, Ulan Bator's new style maker. For ad campaigns in Mongolia, South Korean companies do not bother to reshoot with local models.
"It works -- our features are that similar," Byambasuren said over lunch at a sidewalk cafe.
Kim Sung-chul, a South Korean pastor who has been here three years, said, "We look the same; our skin is the same; our grammar structure is the same."
Since 1999, the year Kim Dae-jung, then South Korea's president, flew here, the Ulan Bator-Seoul route has been one of the busiest for Korean Air and Mongolian Airlines.
Remittances from Mongolians working in South Korea have become an important source of income to this nation of 2.5 million. With 20,000 Mongolians in South Korea, the country now has more Mongolians than Japan, Europe and the US combined.
While some Mongolians say they are put off by a Korean arrogance, many Koreans say the advantages are there for both sides.
"After two years, Koreans can speak Mongolian," said Kim Wan-jin, a translator.
"But it is even easier for Mongolian people to learn Korean," Kim said.
PAST TACTICS: In what some see as a return to hardline strategies, the new Afghan rulers hanged the body of an alleged kidnapper from a crane as warning to criminals The Taliban hanged a dead body from a crane parked in a city square in Afghanistan on Saturday in a gruesome display that signaled the hardline movement’s return to some of its brutal tactics of the past. Taliban officials initially brought four bodies to the central square in the western city of Herat, then moved three of them to other parts of the city for public display, said Wazir Ahmad Seddiqi, who runs a pharmacy on the edge of the square. Taliban officials announced that the four were caught taking part in a kidnapping earlier on Saturday and were killed by police,
Kim Yo-jong, the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, reached out to South Korea for a second time in recent days, saying Pyongyang would consider taking part in another inter-Korean summit and declaring an end to the war if Seoul adopts a less hostile policy. “I felt that the atmosphere of the South Korean public desiring to recover the inter-Korean relations from a deadlock and achieve peaceful stability as soon as possible is irresistibly strong,” Kim Yo-jong said in a statement issued by the official Korean Central News Agency. “We, too, have the same desire.” Kim’s statement follows one she
A potential lurch to the left in Germany’s election on Sunday is scaring millionaires into moving assets into Switzerland, bankers and tax lawyers say. If the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), hard-left Linke and environmentalist Greens come to power, the reintroduction of a wealth tax and a tightening of inheritance tax could be on the political agenda. “For the super-rich, this is red hot,” said a German-based tax lawyer with extensive Swiss operations. “Entrepreneurial families are highly alarmed.” The move shows how many rich people still see Switzerland as an attractive place to park wealth, despite its efforts to abolish its image as a
‘SMOKESCREEN’: An agreement to declare an end to the Korean War would be ‘of no help at all’ and used to cover up ‘US hostile policy,’ a North Korean official said The influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un yesterday said it was “admirable” of South Korea to propose a formal end to the Korean War, but demanded Seoul first drop its “hostile policies” towards Pyongyang. Kim Yo-jong’s remarks, carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, were in response to South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s recent calls for declaring an official end to the 1950-1953 conflict that ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the two sides technically at war for more than half a century. In a speech at the UN General Assembly earlier this week, Moon proposed