(HT to reader)
The Marmot covered this in his 2005 post “‘Ugly Koreans’ in Mongolia”, as well as Brian in Jeollanam-do last year, but apparently human trafficking is still increasing in Mongolia. Earlier this year, a Mongolian was charged with kidnapping as many as 100 Mongolian girls and selling them into the sex industry. Young girls, according to Sloan McMullen, a former member of an NGO group in Ulan Bator, are being kidnapped right off the streets of Ulan Bator and sexually exploited in hotel rooms. She seems to indicate the growing mining industry as part of the blame.
Between 3,000 and 5,000 Mongolian women and children are trafficked every year to various parts of China, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Switzerland, Israel, and the former country of Yugoslavia. Some women allow themselves to be trafficked into the sex industry, but others are lured with offers of good-paying jobs in massage parlors and night clubs or university scholarships.
According to the Global Post, a 25 year-old using the name Nomin, read an ad in a Mongolian newspaper advertising scholarships to study in Korea. The requirements were a passport and a high school diploma and the lucky girls selected would have their tuition and cost of living paid for by the Korean university. Within a couple of weeks she and two other girls were given plane tickets for Korea by a Mongolian couple who claimed they worked for the university.
“When we arrived the couple told us it’s not a good time to enter university. They told us we had to work in a night-club until the semester starts,” says Nomin (not her real name), now 25, in a near whisper during an interview in an Ulan Bator parking lot. “Everybody was speaking Korean. We were wondering what was going on.”
They were eventually shipped to Jeju where they were allegedly locked in a small room, beaten and forced to prostitute themselves. They eventually escaped and made their way to Seoul and then back to Mongolia. According to the UB Post (Ulan Bator newspaper which copied the UHHCR report) South Korean and Japanese child sex tourist are visiting Mongolia in increasing numbers and using “TV Chat” (a method of sending text messages) to recruit their victims.
Despite the seriousness of the subject I did find some humor in one comment (there were only 3 comments and one of them was repeated twice) on this Mongolia Web page in which the delirious writer, Doloojin, noted in his fantasies that the South Koreans in Mongolia destroying the “clean blood society” were South Koreans deported from the United States. The US gets blamed for everything.
Of course, Mongolia can’t throw stones – it has been accused of its own human trafficking in regards to North Koreans… But as Prof. Lankov likes to say, “that’s another story.”
Mongolians? Nazis? Say it ain’t so!
In the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator, “Shoot the Chinese” is spray-painted on a brick wall near a movie theater. A pair of swastikas and the words “Killer Boys …! Danger!” can be read on a fence in an outlying neighborhood of yurt dwellings. Graffiti like this, which can be found all over the city, is the work of Mongolia’s neo-Nazis, an admittedly implausible but often intimidating, and occasionally violent, movement.
Ulan Bator is home to three ultra-nationalist groups claiming a combined membership of several thousand — a not insignificant number in a country of just 3 million people. They have adopted Nazi paraphernalia and dogma, and are vehemently anti-Chinese. One group, Blue Mongolia, has admitted to shaving the heads of local women found sleeping with Chinese men. Its leader was convicted last year of murdering his daughter’s Mongolian boyfriend, who had merely studied in China.
In case you couldn’t tell from the subtle TIME description, Mongolians have issues with the Chinese.
Fifty-year-old Zagas Erdenebileg is the leader of Dayar Mongol (All Mongolia), the most prominent of the neo-Nazi groups. “If our blood mixes with foreigners’, we’ll be destroyed immediately,” says Erdenebileg, who has run unsuccessfully for parliament four times. He loathes the Chinese — whom he accuses of involvement in prostitution and drug-trafficking — and reveres Genghis Khan, who he says influenced Adolf Hitler. I ask him if he considers his adoption of the beliefs of a regime that singled out and executed people with Mongol features from among Soviet prisoners of war to be in any way ironic. “It doesn’t matter,” he shrugs. “We share the same policies.”
He apparently didn’t get the “Genghis Khan as Father of Globalization” memo.
Heck, even the Peace Corps types isn’t immune:
The neo-Nazis still pose some threats, however. In May, a newsletter of the international development charity Voluntary Service Overseas reported allegations that two Peace Corps volunteers were “severely beaten” outside a pub after a confrontation with Dayar Mongol members. (Erdenebileg denies his group’s involvement.) One 25-year-old American living in Ulan Bator, who didn’t wish to be named, said he was accosted by neo-Nazis at a nightclub for cavorting with a Mongolian woman. “After they showed a swastika, my initial thought was, This isn’t going to be a normal fight,” he says. “They wanted to send a message.” That message, delivered by spray paint or fists, translates to “get out.”
Let that be a lesson to all you cavorting-with-a-Mongolian-woman types!
(HT to reader)
OK, now I’ve seen it all.
Good Lord. I’m surprised someone didn’t get a rake shoved up their rectum.
(HT to my brother)
Tim Wu had always wanted to visit Mongolia, and finally, he got his wish.
Then he wrote about it in Slate. In a three-part series, no less.
As it would turn out, Tim liked the whole rough-and-tumble, cowboy-esque aspect of the Land of the Great Blue Sky. He also found it the perfect antidote to the cultural emasculation of Asian manhood:
Since we’re talking about cowboys, I can’t close this entry without tackling a somewhat sensitive topic: Asian manhood. There is a widely held stereotype that, samurais and Bruce Lee aside, East Asian men are not particularly masculine. I hate to admit it, but as with many stereotypes, there’s some truth to this. Take my native Taiwan: Good food? Yes. Friendly? Yes. Macho? Not at all. Many Taiwanese men consider it perfectly normal to fill their cars with stuffed animals. More broadly, male pop stars across East Asia have a disturbing tendency to look exactly like the teenage girls who are their biggest fans.
Please don’t get angry about this. It’s true that Western popular culture tends to emasculate Asian men. I am also aware that cultural ideals of manhood vary, and that Taiwanese men are more likely to express their masculinity in other ways, like collecting tea pots or chewing on betel nuts. But rough and tough they aren’t. And some of this gives Asian men outside Asia something of a complex.
The antidote to any idea that this might be a racial, as opposed to cultural, trait is a trip to Mongolia. Mongolian men in the countryside spend their time riding horses, killing animals, and breaking firewood. They tend to hold their face in a fixed grimace. At times, it is like a country of Daniel Craig impersonators. Along with parts of Latin America, it’s probably the most macho place I’ve ever been. And so, my Asian brothers, if you ever want to know what the extremes of Eastern manhood look like, forget about Jet Li or even Bruce Lee. It’s Mongolia where Asia gets tough.
For those residing in Korea who want to verify this without heading all the way to Mongolia, drop by Little Mongolia near what used to be Dongdaemun Stadium on a weekend (or, during the week, your local construction site) — hundreds of Mongolian men, and not a single neck among them. Lovely folk when sober, but the last people you’d want to get into a bar fight with — I’ve had even Russians warn me that Mongolians are dangerous drunks. Tough, tough mofos, they are — check out their gangsta rap.
(HT to Tom Coyner)
The South China Morning Post reports that Chinese police have asked bar owners in Beijing’s Sanlitun district not to allow in black people or Mongolians:
Bar owners near the Workers’ Stadium in central Beijing say they have been forced by Public Security Bureau officials to sign pledges agreeing not to let black people enter their premises.
“Uniformed Public Security Bureau officers came into the bar recently and told me not to serve black people or Mongolians,” said the co-owner of a western-style bar, who asked not to be named.
The racism regarding black folk aside, what the hell did the Mongolians do to get into the Public Security Bureau’s doghouse?
Danwei, incidentally, thinks this story may be dubious at best.
(HT to the Peking Duck)
Mongolian President Nambariin Enkhbayar has declared a four-day state of emergency following last night’s violent protests in UB that saw demonstrators loot and burn the headquarters of the former communist Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party.
If you want to see what recently toasted Stalinist architecture looks like, AFP got a good photo of the party headquarters building.
Rioters also set fire to the Cultural Palace.
AP has some raw footage from the protests:
News reports say about 30 cops and 25 protesters have been injured. I heard from my wife this morning that two cops had been killed, but I didn’t see any news of this.
Korea isn’t the only one in the neighborhood dealing with unhappy campers — allegations that the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP), the former communist-era ruling party, rigged the recent general election has led to violent protests.
No candles in these protests, unless one counts the headquarters of the MPRP, which was set alight, reportedly with Prime Minister Sanjagiin Bayar still inside. Police have reciprocated the love by firing rubber bullets into and above the crowd. Demonstrators also reportedly stoned firefighters as they came to put out the blaze. Lovely.
No word on whether the duty-free shop in the lobby of the MPRP headquarters survived the fire.
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.
James Palmer has apparently written a book on one of my favorite historical figures, Baron Robert Nickolaus Maximillian von Ungern-Sternberg a.k.a. the Mad Baron, the White Russian warlord who actually ruled Mongolia for part of 1921.
Now, when I say “favorite,” this is not because Ungern von Sternberg had any admirable qualities — he was batshit insane (just look at his photo), a sadistic psychopath whose story is almost too weird to believe:
Ungern was obsessed with his role in history, which he saw as restoring Nicholas II’s brother, Michael (who had, in fact, already been killed by the Bolsheviks), to the Russian throne and to restore Genghis Khan’s glory and the rule of the living god-king, the perverted Bogd Khan in Mongolia.
In a savagely inept campaign, Ungern managed to expel Chinese troops from Mongolia, take the capital Urga (now Ulan Bator) and restore the Bogd Khan with himself as dictator (aided by Tibetan troops lent by the Dalai Lama).
Ungern’s reign was tyrannical and his tortures, described by Palmer, were sadistically, chillingly bizarre.
His unfortunate victims, whether Communist, Jewish or merely the well-off, included women and often children, particularly Jewish ones – ‘because the Jews are not protected by any law… neither men nor women nor their seed should remain’. They suffered frenzied beatings (‘did you know men can still walk when flesh and bone is separated?’), being dragged by a noose behind moving cars or hunted through streets by Cossacks; there were beheadings, burnings alive, dismemberments and disembowelments, exposure naked on ice, the rending of bodies by wild animals, being forced naked up trees until they fell out and were shot and, finally, in Palmer’s evocative description, Ungern ‘sometimes ordered his men to bend back a tree, then bound the victim to it to be ripped apart by the branches when it was released’.
The Mongolian army was only a token force and he found resistance only from occupying Chinese forces. He captured the capital of Urga (today-Ulan Bator) in minus forty degree weather on February 21, 1921, and declared himself dictator on March 3rd. The Chinese had large stocks of munitions, artillery, and machine guns in the town which Sternberg distributed.
For the next six months, a surreal existence fell over Mongolia as the Baron and his army, now dubbed the Order of Military Buddhists, performed every type of atrocity imaginable including torture and cannibalism. He believed himself the reincarnation of Genghis Khan. He became a convert to the eightfold-path. Interpreting the Buddhist scriptures in his own manner, he believed that in the act of killing the weak he upgraded their position in the universe and they would be reborn as greater beings. He therefore felt that by washing Urga with the blood of innocent people he was saving the world in a cosmic sense, one bullet at a time.
After Kolchak’s defeat in 1920, Ossendowski joined a group of Poles and White Russians trying to escape from communist-controlled Siberia to India through Mongolia, China and Tibet. After several thousands of miles the group reached Chinese-controlled Mongolia, only to be stopped there by the take-over of the country led by mysterious baron Roman Ungern von Sternberg. A mystic who was fascinated by beliefs and religions of the Far East such as Buddhism and Lamaism, and who believed himself to be a reincarnation of Genghis Khan, Ungern-Sternberg’s philosophy was an exceptionally muddled mixture of Russian nationalism with Chinese and Mongol beliefs. He also proved to be an exceptional military commander and his forces grew rapidly.
Ossendowski joined the baron’s army as a commanding officer of one of the self-defence troops. He also briefly became Ungern von Sternberg’s political advisor and chief of intelligence. Little is known of his service at the latter post, which adds to Ossendowski’s legend as a mysterious person. In late 1920 he was sent with a diplomatic mission to Japan and then USA, never to return to Mongolia. Some writers believe that Ossendowski was one of the people to hide the semi-mythical treasures of the Bloody Baron.
(HT to reader)
Korean blogger “Norangbi” has posted some very nice photo essays from Mongolia, Land of the Great Blue Sky.
Just start here and keep hitting “next post” (or the Korean version thereof).
You think Koreans hate the Japanese? Get a Mongolian started about the Chinese:
That’s some hardcore shit. There’s quite a flame war going on at Youtube, for those who enjoy that sort of thing.
(HT to reader)