Mongolia to mark 800th anniversary of its foundation“I’d like to invite the actor Bae Yong-joon and actress Choi Ji-woo who both are popular as hallyu (Korean wave) stars in Mongolia to the 800th anniversary celebration of the establishment of Mongolia that will be held in Mongolia in July,” said Perenlei Urjinlhundev, the Mongolian Ambassador to Korea.
These days Mr. Urjinlhundev, 59, is spending a lot of time preparing for the national foundation day: The embassy plans to hold large events in Korea in addition to supporting events in Mongolia.
“[Koreans] consider Mongolia a nation of Genghis Khan that flourished in the 13th century, but that’s only the past,” said Mr. Urjinlhundev in a recent interview with the JoongAng Ilbo in Korean. “I will take advantage of the events to help Koreans learn about the present day Mongolia.”
When asked about yellow dust storms, Mr. Urjinlhundev firmly said the yellow dust is not a problem of just one nation and refuted recent news reports by some Korean press outlets that stated the Gobi Desert was the source of the problem.
“A third of Mongolia is mountain range, a third is steppe, and a third is forest,” said Mr. Urjinlhundev. “It is true that desertification is increasing seriously in some areas, but reports that 90 percent of the nation is under desertification are excessively overstated,” he said.
Mr. Urjinlhundev added that the Mongolian government is following a “greenbelt” policy ― planting trees, drilling wells, planting lawns and using a rotation system for grazing stock in order to prevent desertification. The major target of the policy is the central part of the nation where desertification is mainly occurring.
“Regulations regarding the environment are very strict in Mongolia so that factories can’t expel heavy metals into the air,” Mr. Urjinlhundev said, differentiating the dust from Mongolia from that originating in China.
Mr. Urjinlhundev said he appreciated that Korean Air has sent its new employees to plant trees in Mongolia every year since 2004, and added it would be great if other Korean companies joined in.
“Mongolians are nomadic tribes, so we don’t know much about how to take care of trees,” he continued, “I hope we can also get some help in caring for the trees in the future.”
Mr. Urjinlhundev studied at Kim Il Sung University in North Korea from 1967 to 1971 and was the envoy to North Korea from 1984 to 1989. He was the Mongolian Ambassador to South Korea from 1991 to 1997 and started his second term in 2001.
“The South and the North are different politically and economically, but the character of the people seems the same,” he said. He added that both South and North Koreans are full of jeong (warm-heartedness) and vitality, work diligently and keep promises no matter what.
Mr. Urjinlhundev was one of founding members of Hansamo ― a community of ambassadors who love Korea that began in early 2002. The group gathers every one or two months.
He also often meets Tien Van Pham, 57, the Vietnamese Ambassador to Korea, who was his dormitory mate at the Kim Il Sung University. The two converse in Korean.
by Kang Byong-chol