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Meet New Asia

Everywhere, you hear it. Asia is young, terminally hip, utterly digital, educated in business, on the way to rich, casually multi-lingual, materialistic by default setting, transparently shallow yet fetchingly friendly, star-struck, fame-centric, in a desperate hurry, fascinated with America as a role model and yet set to absorb our best ideas, spin them one turn better and, before we know it, pass us like a bullet train.

So, meet young Itgel Munkh, 19, from Ulaabaator, Mongolia. As I stood in the second deck of the Bird's Nest, before the Opening Ceremonies for the '08 Olympics, I heard a voice behind me say, "Wow! Look how close the seats are up here, dude. This is awesome."

There he was -- new Asia -- handsome as sin in his spiked, dyed-red hair, in a sky-blue retro sports jersey and kicks so cool I can't describe them. They're waiting to part the ropes for him right now at Lan, Phillipe Starke's club here for those so avant they plan to skip the 21st century.

"Hey, you work for the Washington Post! Cool," says Munkh, his English indistinguishable from my son's, except that his has no hint of any regional American accent. "I learned English from watching cartoons. That's the best way."

Munkh may be from Mongolia, but save the Genghis Kahn jokes. The joke is on us. Our currency -- still called the dollar -- is so weak that anybody with a shred of affluence from any continent comes to visit us, laughing all the way. We're the world's cheap date.

For four years, Munkh has lived all over the U.S., from New York to Boston to Southern California to Seattle. Now, he's studying business and musical production at the University of Hawaii-Oahu. "I know a lot of big stars in the new music scene. I go to all the good clubs," he says casually, already part owner of that new century. "I want to be a DJ."

Where?

"All over the world," he said, incredulous, like, you would wonder.

Here's what I think about Itgel: he'll be a D.J., all over the world.

It's just won't be a world we know.

By Thomas Boswell  |  August 8, 2008; 11:13 AM ET
Categories:  Opening Ceremonies  
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Next: China Arrives!

Comments

Boz,
Being korean-american I have the unique perspective of being born and raised in the States but having access to Korea... Americans have no idea. Asia is, right now, the coolest place to be. Amazing food, culture, architecture. BUT, there are drawbacks, like anywhere else. Still, go to Asia for a week and you'll experience thousands of years of culture right next to the absolute latest in digital technology.

Posted by: 2muchA! | August 8, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

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