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More Mongolians Take Korean Test than TOEFL

Mongolians in search of the Korean Dream are learning Korean by the ger-load:

English may be the most popular foreign language in Korea, but in Mongolia more people take the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) than the TOEFL. The TOPIK is a Korean language proficiency test for non-Koreans, supervised by the Korea Institute of Curriculum & Evaluation and offered twice a year.

Last Sunday, 582 Mongolian students took the first TOPIK test of the year. Introduced in 1999, the test initially drew only about 200 students per year in Mongolia. But in 2005 that figure more than doubled to 487, then climbed to 584 in 2006 and 925 in 2007. Based on the number taking Sunday’s test, the total figure will likely exceed the 1,000 mark this year.

And in 2007, some 15,000 Mongolians took the Korean Language Proficiency Test, or KLPT, which is designed for people preparing to work in Korea. Mongolians currently outnumber USFK, with 33,000 Mongolians living in Korea. Korea is also Mongolians’ No. 1 destination for overseas study.

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  • jnesepa

    The Korean wave theory seems to be a bit of a stretch. I have met a few Mongolians who wanted to break into singing here, though. I was wondering, maybe it’s good ol’ fashioned geopolitics? Seeing as how Mongolia is an underpopulated country surrounded by Russia and China, perhaps Korea is a natural place to encourage young people to study in…

  • http://thegrandnarrative.wordpress.com James Turnbull

    By way of comparison, I hear that a grand total of only 13(!) people took the TOPIK test in the UK last Sunday. At the rate it’s going, it’ll probably no longer be offered there for much longer.

  • http://www.jdlink.co.kr Linkd

    33,000? Well, I think it’s time for someone to update us on the food, then. I’m always game for something new. I noticed a couple second-floor restaurants just east of Tongdaemun – any of them any good? Is there another area besides that? Which one has the hottest waitresses?

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Well, my wife would recommend Darkhan. I’ve been there a couple of times, and it is pretty good, although the rest of Korea’s Mongolian community seems to think so, too, so it can get a bit crowded.

    The one to avoid — or so says my wife — is Chingis Khaan. The old one was OK, but the new one apparently isn’t.

  • jnesepa

    Found an interesting detailed article that mentioned restaurant, and with a map. ;)

    http://english.seoul.go.kr/today/infocus/specialreport/1232133_5093.php

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    jnesepa — In case you didn’t know, I wrote that piece.

  • http://www.jdlink.co.kr Linkd

    Exactly the info I wanted, and more. I wonder if the Mongolian language has a word for vegetarian, or if they just use the term I prefer: “fools”.

  • pawikirogi

    why do the mongols choose korea over japan? i remember marmot’s wife telling me that ‘japan does more’ for mongolia which made me wonder what i wonder now: why then, is korea the country with the largest population of mongols outside of mongolia?

    i personally believe in open immigration for the people of mongolia. thye’d be the ideal immigrant to korea.

  • christine

    pawikirogi> Cost of living, perhaps?

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    i remember marmot’s wife telling me that ‘japan does more’ for mongolia which made me wonder what i wonder now: why then, is korea the country with the largest population of mongols outside of mongolia?

    Mostly economic factors — Korea has a labor shortage, especially in jobs like construction, and it’s a lot easier to get into Korea than, say, Japan. Then it feeds on itself — once a country gets a reputation as a good place to come for a couple of years and make money, everyone wants to come.

    i personally believe in open immigration for the people of mongolia. thye’d be the ideal immigrant to korea.

    OK, Pawi, I’m going to make you stand by that statement.

  • Aceface

    That’s because Japan gets foreign labors from places like Brazil and China,while there are no governmental agreement on accepting workers from Mongolia.
    The population of Mongolians registered to Ministry of Justice is about 3000 and many are students.But there are about double of that size living here as illegal alien working in various economic sectors.Added to that,there are about 30000 Mongolians coming from Inner Mongolia Self Autonomous Region in China and they are more well adopted to Japanese society than Mongolians from Mongolia proper.

  • http://www.cafepress.com/gammamale ElCanguro

    Mongolia’s one country I’ve always wanted to visit and my experiences randomly bumping into some Mongolian students whilst here in Korea leads me to believe the people are quite friendly and down-to-earth too. This post lead me to have a look at the Official Mongolian Tourism website @ http://www.mongoliatourism.gov.mn only to find Megapass isn’t letting me through.

    Hope the fair folk of Mongolia haven’t done anything to rise the ire of Megapass some for unknown reason.

  • dokdoforever

    A fellow at KOICA told me that Mongolia was the most popular destination for Korean foreign aid workers – so there’s probably plenty of interpersonal exchange. Koreans are thought to have originated in the Altaic region, near Mongolia, and there’s the whole Mongolian spot connection. On the other hand, Mongols caused so much damage during their occupation of the peninsula during the Koryu Dynasty that it took 100 years for agricultural production to return to pre-invasion levels. But, Koreans tend to overlook that and focus on Japan. I suppose there’s also some sympathy for other non-Han peoples living on China’s periphery. And there’s the whole Korean developmental model, which could be attractive. Maybe Robert’s wife can tell us.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    # 13,

    Several other reasons why we over look it vis-à-vis Japan. Although the Mongols caused tremendous damage during their 5 invasions over 40 years, their rule over Koryo is remembered in a different light.

    1) Koryo was treated as a “brother-in-law” nation rather then strictly a colony. The country was technically a tributary state, it was never annexed. Koryo princes married Mongol princess.

    2) Korean royalty was still allowed to be at least a figurehead in the state. They were not forced to abdicate the throne.

    3) Some Koryo people reached prominent positions within the Mongol court. Yuan Empress Ki was a Koryo woman. Although she is not remembered favorably in either Yuan or Koryo histories, she did produce a Yuan Emperor who was half Korean (he only ruled briefly).

    4) Yuan princesses are remembered favorably in Koryo histories, particularly Queen Noguk, a daughter of Kubilai Khan and consort of King Gongmin.

  • http://sungnyemun.org/wordpress/ dda

    1) Koryo was treated as a “brother-in-law” nation rather then strictly a colony.

    Only the southern half, as the Mongols had annexed the northern part of Korea and attached it to the Yüan empire.

  • pawikirogi

    thanks, marm, for the info. and i really do believe in open immigration for the people of of mongolia.

    ‘instead, they focus on japan.’

    yeah, mongols didn’t have policy to wipe koreans off the face of the earth.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Ah, but they came pretty close. Ever read passages of the Koryo sa where it said, “nothing but girls and spinnsters left in the country side.”

    All this while the fat cats were “toughing it” in Ganghwa Island.

  • nachoinkorea

    Uhhh….those “Korean” princes and princesses in the Yuan Empire, can’t really call them Korean.

    The Mongols required all male Koryo royal family members to reside in Beijing. They were raised there by Mongols. When they were old enough, they married a Mongol princess and their children remained in Beijing, except for daughters who were married off to cement political relations.

    After just a couple of generations of this, the Koreans in the Koryo court weren’t really “Korean” at all, they were in fact Mongol. They spoke Mongolian and dressed like Mongolians. From what I have read they could barely, if at all, converse in Korean.

  • stacked

    maybe you should read again.

  • stacked

    maybe you should read it again.

  • pawikirogi

    ‘After just a couple of generations of this, the Koreans in the Koryo court weren’t really “Korean” at all, they were in fact Mongol. They spoke Mongolian and dressed like Mongolians. From what I have read they could barely, if at all, converse in Korean.’

    this makes me wonder, where is the stamp of the mongols on korea? i understand that the female korean dress is based on mongol design but it’s hard for me to see it. that’s because the mongol costumes i’ve seen so far don’t look like korean ones.

    perhaps the mongol footprint exists within korea’s arts but i don’t see that there.

    does it exists in the language? i don’t know.

    wanggon, i heard kbs is going to put out ‘wang kon’ on dvd so i’m just waiting. i hear it’s a masterpiece of korean sa guk.

  • pawikirogi

    ‘harp on japan.’

    japan’s occupation of korea remains a living memory. the occupation of korea by the mongols was so very long ago.

    if all the koreans had was the midget invasion of imjin, i don’t think koreans would feel the way some do today.

  • Aceface

    ”if all the koreans had was the midget invasion of imjin, i don’t think koreans would feel the way some do today.”

    “Mongol” invasions of Japan of 1274 and 1281 were conducted under repeated requests from Chungnyeol of Goryeo to Kublai Khan.

  • Jing

    Pawi, Korea isn’t the country with the largest Mongolian population outside of Mongolia. Hell Mongolia doesn’t even have the largest number of Mongolians. There are actually twice as many Mongolians living in China than there are in Mongolia.

  • dokdoforever

    My understanding is that while the Mongols deposed several Koryu kings in an attempt to shape Korean affairs, their efforts to reshape Koryu society were thwarted. For instance, the Mongols failed to abolish Koryu’s system of inherited slavery, up to 30% of the population. One of the Mongols legacies in Korea are the small, hardy horses (Jorang ponies) they left behind in Cheju Do, whose lush meadows were used by the Mongols for horse breeding.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Yes it is true that Mongols and/or Mongol supporters in Koryo tried to make changes within Koryo society.

    Other contributions to Koryo by the Mongols would be the black pig of Jeju and maybe even the Jejudo dog. I think woman’s hair styles were also influenced by the mongols.

  • Aceface

    “Hell Mongolia doesn’t even have the largest number of Mongolians. ”

    Yeah,for the same reasons there are more Tibetans living in China
    than the outside.

    I thought the biggest Mongolian cultural legacy was the frequent use
    of meat in Korean cuisine.

  • user-81

    “Hell Mongolia doesn’t even have the largest number of Mongolians. There are actually twice as many Mongolians living in China than there are in Mongolia.”

    By “Mongolia” you mean just ‘Outer Mongolia’, right? China occupies the southern portion of Mongolia, which they call Inner Mongolia.

    About one-third of ethnic Mongols in the People’s Republic of China live outside Inner Mongolia, so even if the two Mongolias are considered as one, Jing would be right that China still has the largest number of ethnic Mongols, but not that there are twice as many Mongols living in China than there are in Mongolia.

    If we only consider citizens of Mongolia, Pawi may be right about Korea having the highest number. Does anyone know how many Mongolian citizens reside in the People’s Republic of China?

  • http://sungnyemun.org/wordpress/ dda

    Does anyone know how many Mongolian citizens reside in the People’s Republic of China?

    Wikipedia knows at least about the number of Mongols in Inner Mongolia. At close to 4 million Mongols, I’m pretty sure that number is quite a bit more than the Mongols in .kr… And a million more than in the Rep. of Mongolia…

  • user-81

    #29, But how many citizens of Mongolia (Outer Mongolia) are there in China?