Currently, Mongolia has one of the lowest reported cases in East Asia, with a low count of 288 total cases and zero deaths (only North Korea is lower, and only because it does not publish its numbers). This can be attributed to the decisive preventative measures adopted by the Mongolian government in early February.
Government officials canceled the national holiday Tsagaan Sar, the Mongolian lunar new year, to slow travel between Ulaanbaatar and other provinces outside the capital. They also closed their borders with China and Russia and banned international flights from COVID hotspots like South Korea. The Mongolian Government was able to mobilize a task force of 832 individuals monitoring 336 checkpoints around the country in late February. This, along with Mongolia having a smaller population, allowed the task force to quickly suppress the outbreak in the country.
Some Mongolians have attributed the success and the country’s resilience to Genghis Khan. The nomadic lifestyle and lack of stress and consumerism faced in other countries is said to be because of Genghis Khan’s army’s discipline and resilience and his choice of land being “good land. And he promised that it would protect us,” said monk Ukhaanzaya Dorjnamnan.
Karl Ian Uy Cheng Chua, an Assistant Professor at the History Department and Director of the Japanese Studies Program at Ateneo de Manila University, wrote a piece “Covid-19 and Popular Culture in Southeast Asia” on how digital media responded to the pandemic and how it provides accurate and updated information that helps keep citizens safe:
While these roles were dominated primarily by television, radio and print, in recent years, digital media has been leading the information spaces, particularly in urban areas. An OECD study in 2017 showed that more than a quarter of the nation’s population have internet access: Brunei Darussalam (95%); Singapore (85%); Malaysia (80%); Philippines (60%); Thailand (53%); Vietnam (50%); Cambodia (34%); Indonesia (32%); Myanmar (31%); Laos (26%). (The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 2019) A further peculiarity is how popular culture has been used by organizations and individuals to attain their information dissemination goals. This has been accentuated during the COVID-19 pandemic, as quarantines of various forms were implemented by governments which encouraged citizens to stay at home, and limited their mobilities, created populations hungry for information on the virus. Popular culture is playing an integral role as the media not only provides information, as well as entertainment, it also creates a space for dialogue.
The Carolina Asia Center’s director, Prof. Ji-Yeon Jo, was interviewed by the department chair of Asia and Middle East Studies, Prof. Morgan Pitelka (also a former CAC director) about the way that South Korea has managed its response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. This video interview comes from the DAMES series “Forty for Forty.”