Mongolia is also called ‘Mongtan New City’ these days. It is nicknamed because the scenery of Ulaanbaatar, the capital, is similar to Dongtan New Town in Gyeonggi-do. A Korean-style apartment complex, CU and GS25 across one block , Tous Les Jours located large in the downtown area, a Korean coffee shop, and a large E-Mart create an atmosphere as if a new town in Gyeonggi-do토토사이트 has been moved as it is.
Kim Yoon-jeong (34), an office worker who recently traveled to Mongolia, said, ” When I take a photo at CU, GS25, or E-Mart in Mongolia and ask ‘Guess where this is,’ more than half of them couldn’t even imagine that it was Mongolia (laughs ) . ” When I first arrived at the city, the scenery was familiar, so it was both strange and fun.”
Mongolia and Korea have become very close. According to the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) on the 20th, Korea became Mongolia’s fourth largest trading partner as of last year. Last year, foreign trade between Korea and Mongolia was $21.2 billion (about 28.4 trillion won), and the trade surplus with Mongolia reached $3.8 billion (about 5.1 trillion won).
Not only are they getting closer, but they are becoming more alike. As much as the term Mongtan New Town comes out, the scenery of the city is similar, and the similarities in people’s lifestyles stand out. Drinking convenience store coffee, enjoying tteokbokki or ramen, and selling Korean food at street stalls have become commonplace. Looking at Korean groceries and industrial products at E-Mart and loading items onto carts is also considered a Korean scene.
As the number of people traveling to Mongolia, such as Mr. Kim, is increasing, the degree of familiarity with Mongolia is also increasing. According to the Aviation Information Portal System, the number of passengers who visited Mongolia in the first half of this year was 255,957, nearly four times higher than last year’s 65,337. The demand for visiting Korea from Mongolia is also increasing.
Why is Mongolia getting closer to Korea and how is it becoming similar? The dominant evaluation is that Korean companies that have entered Mongolia have played a significant role in this. The foothold for entering Korean companies was laid in the early 2000s. As Mongolia joined in the Hallyu craze led by Korean dramas, the Mongolian people’s affinity for Korea increased.
The decisive opportunity came unexpectedly through a convenience store. Five years ago, in August 2018, the CU Sangria branch opened at the 5-star Hotel Sangria in Ulaanbaatar. It was the first convenience store to properly appear in Mongolia. The store also has a comfortable seating area. It was also possible to have a simple meal at a convenience store by selling ready-to-cook products. A coffee machine was provided so you could enjoy freshly brewed coffee. The reaction was explosive. The 100th CU store opened in
October 2020, 26 months after opening the first store . About 18 months later, the 200th store opened, and 10 months later, in March, the 300th store opened in Ulaanbaatar. CU currently operates more than 330 stores and accounts for more than 70% of the convenience store market in Mongolia. It’s not just the number of stores that has increased. The response is so hot that an average of 1,000 people visit each store a day. The average number of visitors per day is about three times that of Korea. CU is expanding the scope of store openings throughout Mongolia.
In 2021 GS25 also went out to Mongolia. It is aggressively increasing the number of stores by simultaneously opening three stores in Ulaanbaatar in May of that year. As of this month, 206 stores are in operation. There are also plans to expand to 500 stores by 2025. An official from GS25 explained, “ We determined that overseas countries, which have achieved significant economic growth and become attractive markets, will become a new growth engine for GS25 .”
The competitiveness of Korean convenience stores created synergies with K-content and K-food. Thanks to K-content, the psychological barrier to K-food has been lowered, giving it scalability. Korean convenience foods such as kimbap and ready-to-cook foods such as toast, hot dogs, and tteokbokki received enthusiastic responses.
In other words, convenience stores have taken on the role of restaurants and cafes, which are lacking in Mongolia. A CU official explained, “We have also succeeded in localization by developing local foods such as Boz, a Mongolian-style steamed bun, and Hyoshor, a traditional Mongolian fried dumpling, into convenience store products.”
Ulaanbaatar citizens chose ‘coffee’ as the most favorite product in convenience stores in Korea, both in CU and GS25 . CU ‘s own brand ( PB ) bean coffee, ‘ GET Coffee’ Americano, ranked first in the bestseller list, and ‘Cafe 25 Raw Milk Latte’ at GS25 ranked first.
CU had three coffee products in the top 10 sales from January to July. Coffee is doing well, with Get Coffee Vanilla Latte (3rd) and Get Coffee Latte (4th). Korean food also stands out. Hot dogs (5th), triangle gimbap (7th), sandwiches (9th), and cup noodles (10th) were among the top 10 best-selling products in CU .
At GS25 , chicken served well with coffee. 1st to 3rd place in popularity of K-Food was Cafe 25 Raw Milk Latte, followed by ‘Chicken 25 Crispy Whole Leg’ and ‘Chicken 25 Boneless Skewers’. Among PB foods, ‘Omori Kimchi Stew Ramen’, ‘Gonghwachunjajang’, and ‘You Us Grapefruit Full of Sky’ were selected as the top 3.
E-Mart also entered Mongolia in 2016 and opened its second store in 2017 and its third store in 2019. E-Mart also made K-Food a strategic product. “We are expanding our business into a premium mart where you can enjoy Korean food,” said an official from E-Mart. E-Mart will open its fourth E-Mart store in Mongolia within this year. Mom’s Touch is also planning to open its first and second stores in Mongolia. CJ
Foodville Tous Les Jours, which is experiencing difficulties in quantitative growth due to store opening restrictions in Korea, is also on a winning streak in Mongolia. Tous Les Jours first entered the market in 2016 and operates 17 stores in Ulaanbaatar. It is proving its global competitiveness by recording an average annual sales increase of more than 35%.
CJ Foodville targeted the Mongolian market with a premium strategy. The first store opened in an area where high-end restaurants in Mongolia are concentrated, and the second store opened at Sangria Mall next to the Sangria Hotel.
An official from CJ Foodville explained, “Customers flocked to the 2nd store more than twice as many as expected, promoting the status of premium bakery Tous Les Jours.” In June, the flagship store ‘ Mongolia Global Park Store’ was opened with the same brand identity ( BI ) as the domestic flagship store ‘Tous Les Jours CheilJedang Center Store’ .