By Moon Il-suk
Publisher of BreakNews
The Republic of Korea has grown and in terms of the economic status of the country she has now grown into one who can give from the previous status where she received.
In the area of environmental protection, the number of projects have grown where Korea offers support and assistance. In particular, Korea’s environmental organization, Green Asia (led by President Son Bong-ho), has been performing a remarkable afforestation project in Mongolia, which even attracted the attention of the United Nations.
Green Asia is actively carrying out a large-scale regional reforestation project in Mongolia since 2000 to prevent the desertification of the land which is happening due to the global climatical changes occurring in Mongolia. At present, Green Asia is carrying out a total of seven afforestation projects.
Green Asia has planted a total 530,000 trees in a total area of 475 hectares of land in Mongolia, which are all growing in excellent health. I visited Dundgobi Aimag some 275 kilometers away from the Capital and Erden about 55 kilometers away to check the afforestation status in the regions. In view of the weather and the topographical features of Mongolia, there is not much land to plant trees. Against this backdrop, Green Asia has begun an afforestation project in Mongolia—raising hopes that in Mongolia, too, it is possible to plant and grow trees.
Now new efforts are being made to make trees grow in Mongolia through close cooperation with the Republic of Korea. So, what endeavors have been made to this end between Korea and Mongolia?
The distance between Korea and Mongolia is not so great. It takes only a little over three hours to fly from the Incheon International Airport in South Korea to the Capital City of Ulaan Baatar in Mongolia. Mongolia has a land space of 1,564,116 square meters, the 19th largest in the world, but her population is very small with a total of 3,031,330 persons living in the country. It is the 13th in the world according to the CIA estimation in July 2016.
Probably due to the small population and the low GDP rate (US$10.3 billion), 133rd in the world according to the 2017 IMF statics, Mongolia has much room for development.
Perhaps because of the small population and the low GDP standard, the Genghis Khan International Airport looked like a country-side airstrip compared with the mammoth airports in the large cities of the world.
The weather in Mongolia is of the continental climate. When this writer landed in Ulaan Baatar on August 14 in a four-night-five-day tour schedule, it was a mid-summer weather, very warm and sultry. In contrast, I heard that in the winter it was very, very cold. Mongolia consists of a vast grassland and a desert terrain. The land is seven times the size of the Korean peninsula and from the view point of Mongolia it is a very large country.
Ulaan Baatar, the capital city of Mongolia, sits on a grassy highland 1,300 meters from the sea level. In fact, Mongolia is large a highland country situated mostly on high land.
According to Doosan Encyclopedia, Mongolia is a high-land country with an average altitude of around 1,600 meters above sea level.
The land area is high in the western region while the land is low in the east. The highest point is the Nairama Dullin Orgil which is 4,374 meters high, while the lowest area is the Hoh Nuur Region which is 518 meters high. Grassy plain extends from the center of the country toward the east fit for livestock farming. In contrast, toward the west extends a rough mountainous terrain which forms a God-given grassy plain land fit for livestock farming.
About one third of the southern Mongolia is a desert land named Gobi Desert. Outwardly, it is a barren land, but there are grassy regions here and there in the land which offers a wonderful grazing ground for the sheep, goats and camels.
Mongolia is also known as a ‘Land of Genghis Khan (1162-1227)’ who established the Mongol Empire over 790 years ago. However, the old glory of the Empire has withered in the modern-day Mongolia and Mongolia is now a country which is striving for growth and development.
Mongolia has a vast land space, but of the total 1,564,116 square meters, the arable land accounts only for 0.76% of the total land space. Some 99.24% of the total land area consists of grassland, desert and rocky mountains.
Mongolia borders with Russia on the northwest and with China on the southeast.
According to the political history of Mongolia, the country became the second communist state after the Soviet Union. However, Mongolia gave up the communist system and attempted to follow an open foreign policy and capitalist market system.
Administratively, Mongolia consists of two states (Aymag) and one autonomous district (the Capital City of Ulaan Baatar).
The Great Mongol Empire was established in the early 13th century when Gengis Khan was active. However, following the fall of the Mongol Empire, Mongolia was annexed to the Ching Dynasty of China in 1688 when it was renamed Outer Mongolia.
In 1921, Mongolia established an independent communist state under the influence of the Soviet Revolution.
About one half of the total population of 3,031,330 persons, namely a total of 1.5 million people, are living in Ulaan Baataar, the Capital City of Mongolia. People gathered to the Capital Zone as a result of population concentration trend. There are villages of poor people living in what is called Ger on the outskirts of Ulaan Baataar.
Many people in Korea remember the saga of Genghis Khan who established the large, strong empire in Mongolia in the early 13th century. The mounted army troops of Genghis Khan once conquered a large land space of Asia and Europe. Hung on the Ulaan Baatar Airport are framed portrait pictures of Genghis Khan and his descendants.
Travelling in Mongolia, liquor lovers come to taste the Genghis Khan vodka which is the representative alcoholic beverage of Mongolia. Each bottle bears the portrait picture of Genghis Khan. It appears that the people in Mongolia do not wish to forget the old glory of Mongolia looking at the portrait picture of Genghis Khan on the liquor bottle.
The people of Mongolia do not want to forget the old glory of the Mongol Empire and it appears to this writer, who visits Mongolia for the first time, that the Mongolian people have hopes of seeing their country recover the old glory of their great country.
How is the relationship between Korea and Mongolia? Mongolia established diplomatic relations with North Korea in 1948 when the North Korean regime was established. With the Republic of (South) Korea, Mongolia established diplomatic relations in March 1990.
Significant human exchanges between the two countries consist of over 3,000 citizens of the Republic of Korea living in Mongolia and a total of over 30,000 Mongolian citizens living in the Republic of Korea.
It is significant that over 30 thousand Mongolians are experiencing the life in the Republic of Korea—especially in view of the fact that Koreans and Mongolians are of the same ethnic family.
In facial and physical features, Koreans and Mongolians share many similarities. Furthermore, people-to-people exchanges are growing fast between the two countries—making the relations between them closer and closer.
About the author:
Mr. Moon Il-suk was born in 1952.
Currently, Mr. Moon is the publisher-chairman of:
The Break News (a Korean-language real-time Internet news media and a weekly newspaper)
Weekly Hyundai (Korean-language weekly newspaper)
Mr. Moon is also a poet, a writer and the author of a 3-volume novel, The Central Intelligence Agency of Korea, and other 30 other books.