Jon il, South Korean Ambassador to Mongolia talks about the upcoming visit of the South Korean President to Mongolia and also the Tavantolgoi coking coal project.
Q: South Korean Presidents have visited Mongolia in 1999 and 2006 previously. President Lee Myung-bak will visit Mongolia this time and could you talk about the purpose of this visit?
Ambassador: It is the third time that South Korean President is paying official visit to Mongolia. South Korea and Mongolia has 21 years of diplomatic relations and it rapidly changing and improving and the President’s visit will prove that. South Korea celebrated its 66th anniversary of Independence few days ago and we tried to improve our relations with most of the Asian countries since 1990. As you can see that our faces are similar to Mongolians and we believe that Mongolia is one of our neighbors and a good friend also.
Q: What is the importance of the President’s visit to Mongolia and in what sectors should the two countries improve the relations?
Ambassador: Investors believe that Mongolian market is small with only 3 million people and it is difficult to invest in that. Larger corporations will visit Mongolia in accordance with the President’s visit and will look for a way to invest in Mongolia. A business forum will be held soon. The size of the market is important but we should look at the opportunity in the future because in 10-20 years we will see the long term development.
The most important thing of today is that we look at what Mongolia needs. We could improve cooperation on technology, educated labor force and management. Large economic groups will come to Mongolia to participate in the economic forum and opportunities will be provided for Mongolians to discuss matters with them in terms of increasing investment. President Lee Myung-bak visited Mongolia in 2005 when he was Mayor of Seoul. He will be able to see how fast Mongolia has grown and developed in space of 6 years. The president will also be surprised about how Mongolian youths can speak Korean so good.
Q: 17 consortiums took part in the tender bid for Tavantolgoi. Could you talk more about the South Korean consortium that made bids for Tavantolgoi.
Ambassador: We started to prepare for this project 10 years ago. Total of 10 companies make up the South Korean consortium and it is lead by Kores and includes large companies such as: Posko (Steel Factory), LG, Daewoo International, Hanjon, STX Energy. Kores has opened its branch in Mongolia. Mongolia should not think that South Korea is just a steel producing country but also we have great infrastructure and South Korea has grown into one of the most developed countries in a short space of time.
Q: South Korea was exluded from the names that will develop Tavantolgoi. What is your opinion on that?
Ambassador: The Government said that was not the final decision and there was no reason to exclude us. We are working with Russia and Japan to form a joint consortium as offered by the Mongolian Government. I hope the next Parliament session will solve the matter and choose South Korea as one of the Tavantolgoi’s developers and investors. Other large corporations have shown interest in building the railways and factories that are necessary to develop the huge deposit. South Korean media has already started to talk about the Tavantolgoi project and they are saying that this project will have important factor in improving the two counties relations.
Q: The working group on Tavantolgoi said that South Korea did not offer the new technologies and new factories that you have promised in the earlier stages of the tender bid? Isn’t it why South Korea was excluded from the list?
Ambassador: It is wrong information that South Korean consortium did not offer new technologies and new factories. It is in fact the opposite. I think that some people don’t want South Korea to win the tender bid. That is why the exact and detailed information is not provided publicly.