Historical Review Of Mongolia And Republic Of Korea’s Relationships At Contemporary Stage


The article is devoted to a historiographical review of studies on the relations of Mongolia and the Republic of Korea at present. The article presents a number of publications existing now in the scientific literature on the topic under study in Russian, Mongolian, South Korean historiography, as well as some works done by scientists from Western Europe, China, Japan, and the United States. The presented review does not claim to be an exhaustive coverage of all works published under this topic. In this paper, the author tried to show the main problems that are under the attention of Russian and foreign researchers on the issues of collaboration between Mongolia and the Republic of Korea in modern international relations. The paper introduces some significant works (the author's opinion), which have been published over the past 30 years, covering the main issues of bilateral relations. The author concludes that the problem of Mongolian-Korean relations has not yet studied sufficiently. In modern historiography, Mongolian-South Korean relations are not one of the most prospective areas among Russian scientists. They are mainly considered in the link of collaboration development between Mongolia and other countries of North-East Asia. Therefore, the study of Mongolian-South Korean relations requires further special scientific view and development.

Keywords: MongoliaRepublic of KoreahistoriographyMongolian-South Korean relations


Modern Mongolia provides an example of a fairly quick and successful transformation from a former socialist state into a dynamically developing country with a multi-party political system, market economy and open foreign policy. After the democratic revolution of 1990, the collapse of the USSR, a sharp reduction in economic assistance from Russia, the Mongolian economy was on the verge of collapse. The country was forced to independently seek ways to survive in the most difficult transitional period. By following the updated Foreign Policy Concept, Mongolia began to conduct an independent, “multi-supportive” foreign policy aimed at maintaining balanced relations with Russia, China, and developed countries of the West and East. An important place in its foreign policy is taken by the concept of a “third neighbor”.

The increased interest in Mongolia is due to a number of geopolitical, strategic, economic and other factors. The country, which occupies an important strategic position in the depths of Inner Asia, has become the arena of political and economic rivalry between Russia, China, the USA, and Japan, the EU, Great Britain, Canada, South Korea and other countries. The level of Mongolia integration into the economic region of North-east Asia is growing every year, in which South Korea plays a prominent role, representing a vivid example of new industrial countries, which managed to break out of the category of 'poor and backward' countries into a group of leaders during one generation time. The scientific and technical development of the country is bright evidence of it.

Problem Statement

Bilateral relations between Mongolia and the Republic of Korea are expanding in many areas, based on the principles of cooperation and partnership. Every year South Korea increases the volume of loans and gratuitous aid to Mongolia to support the growth of its economy. Mongolia seeks to support South Korean technology and investment in fuel, metallurgy and copper smelting. There is a strong interest in developing good neighborly relations since a high level of poverty pushes the Mongols as a cheap labor force into the South Korean labor market. Mongolia is increasingly guided by the South Korean cultural models. This finds a place in popular culture, fashion, and sometimes in religion.

Mongolian-Korean relations have undergone significant changes in their history. An objective understanding of the historical process encourages a more detailed study of the experience of the Mongol-Korean interaction with the aim to identify prospects for further development. The analysis of not only quantitative but mainly qualitative characteristics of Mongolia’s collaboration with foreign countries on the example of South Korea seems relevant. The history of the development of Mongolian-Korean relations is an important factor in developing the geopolitical strategy of Mongolia in the Asia-Pacific region, and Mongolia, as known, has historically been a strategic partner and Russia's closest neighbor. Thus, for a comprehensive study of modern Mongolian-South Korean relations, there arises the need for a historiographic analysis of scientific publications and research on this issue.

Research Questions

The subject of this study is the works of Russian, Mongolian and Korean researchers, scientists of Western Europe, China, Japan, the USA, devoted to relations between Mongolia and the Republic of Korea in modern international relationships.

Purpose of the Study

The study aims to conduct a historiographic analysis based on some modern research addressing the problems of relations between Mongolia and the Republic of Korea.

Research Methods

The methodological basis of the study was comparative historical analysis, which made it possible to get acquainted with the state of the problem based on materials from various sources; comparative method allowed to do the synthesis, analogy, systematization of facts, events, phenomena and generalization of data of various nature; the historical and retrospective method made it possible to track the direction and dynamics of the development process of relations between Mongolia and the Republic of Korea.


The article presents a number of publications existing now in the scientific literature on the topic under study in Russian, Mongolian, South Korean historiography, as well as some works done by scientists from Western Europe, China, Japan, and the United States. A significant contribution to the study of the problem is made by the works of scientists from the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of the Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Mongolian Studies, Buddhology and Tibetology of the SB RAS.

The interest of scientists is attracted to the problem of the political strategy of Mongolia after the change in the socio-political and economic system of the country in the late 1980s - early 1990s. Political and economic reforms”, we find a broad sources' basis which allows to get a detailed picture of the transformation happened in the political system of the state by moving away from the socialist regime. The author analyzed Russian-Mongolian relations as one of the tools to ensure the terms to implement the program targeted at changing the development model. The book "Mongolia and the outside world" highlights the current foreign policy of the state, examines the foreign policy relations of Mongolia with various states, including the Republic of Korea.

In research conducted by Bazarov (2006) the key idea is that modern Mongolia successfully implements a multi-vector foreign policy that ensures the effective functioning of a sovereign state. In Russian Mongolian studies, reflecting the processes occurring in Mongolia during the transition period. Ganzhurov (1997) characterizes the processes of the early 1990s and gives an analysis of Russian-Mongolian economic relationships. The studies of Dzhagaeva (2003) introduced from a historical perspective the analysis of the processes, which took place and interacted with each other in Russia and Mongolia.

Kuzmin (2014) in his work convincingly shows that in the 1990s Mongolia was actively integrating into the world economic space, developing relations with Russia, China, South Korea, Japan, refusing to focus only on Russia. Of great interest is his interpretation of the “third neighbor” problem. In the works of Dugarov (2014) describing the historiography of Mongolia and Russian-Mongolian relations, he gives an in-depth analysis of the works of Soviet, Russian and Mongolian researchers, identifies "white spots" and "gaps" in the course of researching it.

The state of Mongolian society at the beginning of the XXI century became the subject of research done by Kuras (2014). In the research, on the ground of a wide source base, the processes of socio-political transformation, party and multi-party system development as the political basis of the state are examined. The analysis of the foreign policy of Mongolia is presented in the works of Bazarov (2008), in whose opinion "the multi-vector foreign policy of Mongolia is one of the necessary conditions for the sovereign development of the state in the political and economic space". He highly appreciates the contribution to the establishment of the modern political and economic model of Mongolia and the assistance of South Korea, which supported it in a difficult transformation period. As a substantive work, there can be the research of Rodionov (2009), dedicated to the evolution of Russian-Mongolian relations after the collapse of the bipolar international system. They analyze the process of how the relations between Russia and Mongolia have been developing after post-socialist transformations.

A large amount of work addressing the foreign policy of the Republic of Korea is carried out by the staff of the Institute of Relevant International Problems and the Korean Studies Section of the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. Collective and individual works help to create a versatile opinion of the international political problems faced by the Republic of Korea in the process of establishing a democratic state. The study of Pak (2007) and others are devoted to modern international issues touching the foreign and domestic politics of the Republic of Korea.

The collection of papers “Korea at the Turn of the Century” has appeared due to the researchers of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences and is devoted to the economic and political situation of the DPRK and the Republic of Korea. The works of Russian experts who conducted the studies on geopolitical problems of the Republic of Korea have been published as the conference proceeding of the annual scientific and practical conferences on Korean studies organized by the Institute of the Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences and as the materials of the Russian-Korean forums.

In the study of Mongolian foreign policy, the works of Mongolian scientists are of great interest. Among them, there are such as Haysanday (2003), Sergelen and Erdenebat (1997), Bayarhuu (1996). One of the fundamental research was the capital work of Lhamsuren, “External Mongolia and its sovereignty”. The monograph by Tumurchulun (1999) “The process of making foreign policy decisions in small countries: the example of Mongolia” analyzes the impact of the “external environment” on taking foreign policy decisions in Mongolia and putting them into practice, identifies the prospects for Mongolian-Korean relations in the XXI century. In the work of Khashbat (2001) “The international status of Mongolia: historical and law aspects”, there is an attempt to trace the history of strengthening the international legal situation of Mongolia: the formation of a new state, the attitude of other countries to this fact and the factors that influenced the changes in their positions and opinions. The author pays special attention to the international situation of Mongolia in the light of the democratic revolution of the early 1990s.

A variety of statistical material is contained in the work of Sergelen and Erdenebat (1997) “Systemic transformation of Mongolia at the end of the XX century: political-economic analysis” and "Market reforms and open policy of Mongolia". The first work summarizes the original experience of Mongolia in transforming general political and economic relations in comparison with the post-socialist countries of Europe and Russia. The author provides his position on the development of Mongolia before and after the “shock therapy”, which caused many negative phenomena in the economy and society. The second book summarizes the experience of market transformations in Mongolia in the first half of the 1990s.

The joint work of the Mongolian authors Sergelen and Erdenebat (1997) highlights the problem of the integration of democratic Mongolia with the Asia-Pacific countries during the years of market transformations and open politics. Particular attention of Mongolian scientists is given to the problem of relations with North Korea. This issue is of significant interest for our study since Mongolia can become a mediator in resolving issues on the Korean Peninsula.

The problems of Mongolian-Korean collaboration in the political, economic and socio-humanitarian fields are studied by Korean scientists. Of particular note is the scientific development of research centers of the Korean Institute of International Economic Policy, the Institute of National Unification of Korea, the National Research Center of the Republic of Korea, and the Korean Economic Institute of America. Korean research centers focus on the issues of economic development and security of North-East Asia. Mongolian-Korean relations in the trade and economic sphere are presented by the works of South Korean economists, such as Kim (2008), Kang and Chu (2012), Jae-Young, Si-Young, and Ganbaatar (2010), Lee and Song (2013).

Jae-Young (2015) concludes that the economic cooperation between the Republic of Korea and Mongolia is mainly expressed in the field of trade, and suggests focusing on the “non-trade” side of cooperation. Jae-Young (2015) in his paper “A Study of Economic Cooperation between Korea and Mongolia in the Field of Human Capital” notes that migrants from Mongolia can contribute to the economic prosperity of both states, and emphasizes the importance of language training for migrants to facilitate social assimilation and integration of foreign citizens into the culture of South Korea.

The problem of the development of trade and economic relations between Mongolia and South Korea is considered by Kim Hong Jin (2010). He believes that a free trade agreement can be an effective tool for the development of trade and economic cooperation. An increase in the direct investment in Mongolia to support projects in the field of construction, transport infrastructure, agriculture, as well as the creation of renewable energy sources will help overcome the protracted stagnation in bilateral economic relations.

The problem of collaboration between Mongolia and the Republic of Korea in the investment sphere was investigated by Jae-Young, Si-Young, and Ganbaatar (2010). They conducted a comprehensive analysis of the investment situation in Mongolia and identified the main problems of bilateral investment cooperation. Korean political scientists pay great attention to the political relations of the Republic of Korea and Mongolia, they are convinced of the need to develop and deepen bilateral relations, which are at the stage of developing comprehensive cooperation, in order to move to strategic partnership relations.

The period under consideration is characterized by the keen interest of American, Japanese, and West European historiography in a contemporary Mongolian context. In the USA, Japan, China and Taiwan, the public organizations are working over Mongolian studies. A feature of modern West European historiography is an increased interest in the geopolitical situation in Northeast Asia, as well as the role of the United States in supporting democratic transformations in Mongolia. An analysis of the post-socialist history of Mongolia is given in the work of the American orientalist, the work is called “Modern Mongolia: from khans to commissars and further to capitalists”. The author notes that relations between Russia and Mongolia are again intensifying, and the rapprochement between the two countries happened due to both internal reasons for Russia and Mongolia and a number of external factors concerning the Russian-Mongolian relations, in particular, the strengthening of Chinese positions in the region.

In an article by Fish (2001) “The Inner Asian Anomaly: Mongolia's Democratization in Comparative Perspective” (“Central Asian anomaly: Mongolian democratization in a comparative perspective”), Mongolia is considered in comparison with the Asian post-socialist countries. The author emphasizes that the possession of natural resources is of great importance in world politics as a way of influencing international relations, and concludes that (unlike Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan) Mongolia after the political transformations of the 1990s became a truly democratic country.

Some problems dealing with the international situation of Mongolia are reflected in scientific works devoted to the transition of Mongolia from the socialist model of development to the market one, among them, there are works of Campi (2004), Rupen (2004), Sabloff (2002) et al.


Thus, the analysis of Russian and foreign historiography allows to draw the following conclusions. To date, many research studies have been carried out, which allowed raising a great number of materials and highlighting many issues relating to the history of foreign Mongolian relations. The focus of Russian and Mongolian researchers is done on the development of Mongolia as a democratic state after the USSR collapse. The great contribution to studies targeted at the modern history of Mongolia is made by scientists who, based on the works that were carried out by the predecessors, now use the methods of political science, economics, sociology, geopolitics and other sciences to make the historical records on Mongolia more comprehensive. At the same time, in the studies of Korean scholars, along with interesting material and substantiated conclusions, some issues of Mongolian-Korean relations remain out of attention. The progress is obvious, although in general the issue of Mongolian-Korean relations has not yet received sufficient consideration. They are mainly considered in the link of collaboration development between Mongolia and other countries of North-East Asia. Therefore, the evolution of Mongolian-Korean relations requires further scientific development.


The work was performed as part of the governmental assignment (project XII.191.1.2. Intercultural interaction, ethnic and socio-political processes in Central Asia, No. AAAA-A17-117021310264-4.


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Grigorieva, J. (2020). Historical Review Of Mongolia And Republic Of Korea’s Relationships At Contemporary Stage. In D. K. Bataev (Ed.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism» Dedicated to the 80th Anniversary of Turkayev Hassan Vakhitovich, vol 92. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 3648-3654). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.10.05.486