◆ Experience the Mongolian Community in Korea◆
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◆ Experience the Mongolian Community in Korea◆
  • 이은아
  • 승인 2005.10.05 00:00
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▲ An advertisement banner hangs from the top windows while Logos in Cyrillic Alphabet align the billboard. Photo by Kim Ji-sun
   Hovering over the glass counter at the Mongolian kiosk, I pick out a pack of 'Orbit' gum and ask the price. "1,000 won," comes the reply from behind the counter. It is triple the going rate, however, the smells, the language, and the Russian footage on the kiosk TV had me thinking I was in Central Asia. If you can or wish to relate to this, then welcome to "Mongol Tower," a ten-story building adopted by Mongolians just a few minutes walk away from Dongdaemum Stadium station, exit number 12.
   Based in the Russian community, The "New Keumho Tower" is the original name of this building, and it stands towering over its neighboring sites, with a welcoming billboard showing a multitude of logos of various corporations. This place has a lot to offer the Mongolian community of approximately 20,000 residing in Korea and serves as a gateway between the two countries.
   From the third floor up, it is occupied by small Mongolian businesses, from cargo shipping, travel agencies, moneychangers, and hairdressers, to even Mongolian style vodka stores. The Mongolian facility starts with a business called, "International Group," a spacey compartment which contains a kiosk and cafe restaurant on the third floor. The kiosk exhibits diverse Mongolian products including local newspapers, local breads, and hunks of frozen mutton, which is hard to find in Korea.
   "I've come to pick up a package," says a woman in her mid-30s, who prefers to stay anonymous. "This place basically connects Mongolians to Mongolia," she says, while the man next to her casually reads the Mongolian posters and advertisements that plaster the walls of the corridors and elevator. The security guard of the Mongol Tower later on explains how one by one, Mongolians started renting rooms in this building. "It started from the year 2002. They increased in number, and now 90 percent of the total 42 estates are occupied by Mongolians," he says.
   As I make my way out of the building, a Russian lady is lining up imported fur coats in front of the tower, reminding me of days to come. I am greeted with the scent of barbequed lamb, and the sound of Russian music echoing from someone's stereo. For a moment, I feel foreign and out of place, but I guess, that for somebody else, this is a taste of home - a sweet one at that.

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