with apologies to Lipp’s Inc, or Pseudo Echo, or whomever it was that recorded “Won’t You Take Me To Funky Town” first.
Tongdaemun, Seoul, Republic of Korea. It was Christmas so we took a quick trip to Seoul, partly as I wanted to get away from the cold here for a few days (more on that later). So, flights booked, accommodation arranged and we headed off.
Whilst in Korea a member of my favourite Mongolia family had asked to be taken to Mongol Town though, as she has some relatives in Korea. Mongol Town is an area in Tongdaemun where many Mongolians group together and where you can get Mongolian food. It should be noted that there are a number of “illegal” Mongolians in Korea, having visited the country and then overstayed their visas. It is the same with Thais, Filipinos and so on as well, with the Korean Immigration Authorities trying to round up these folk and return them to their home countries and the various economic groups in Korea wanting them kept in the country as they provide a labour pool for work that is difficult to get Koreans to do.
The only directions we had were “the 10-storey building in Tongdaemun”. Of course, there are many 10-storey buildings in this area but we headed over anyway, and went to the Doota Building/Store (which is also 10-stories tall but full of small shops and stalls – great place to shop, open until 5:00 in the morning). When we got there we called on Uncle who found us and took us for a tour through the area.
Indeed, you can get khuurshuur and buuz in the area, and signs were a mix of Korean, English with some in Mongolian. It was a pleasant Sunday.
As for illegal immigrants – well, Korea could do a lot to help the economic development of Mongolia by taking in more “Trainees” from Mongolia and perhaps providing a legitimate way for Mongolians to travel to Korea for two to three years, work legally and then return to Mongolia. Difficult issue I know but one that should be looked at logically, rather than emotionally.
As a final note, we shared a flight back with about 20 Mongolians being returned to Mongolia by Korean Immigration Authorities for having overstayed on their visas.