When it comes to representing its citizens overseas, there can be few embassy staff better practised across the world than Ireland’s. An estimated 80 million people worldwide can claim some link to the Emerald Isle and the Irish government even took the step in 2014 of appointing its own Minister of State for the Diaspora. No pressure then for the embassy of one of the most socially active expatriate communities in South Korea, but as always, it is a challenge that Ambassador Aingeal O’Donoghue and her staff have met with aplomb.
Once the winter freeze had at least somewhat abated, the Embassy and the Irish Association of Korea set about preparing for the annual St. Patrick’s Day festivities at D-Cube City in Sindorim. The one-day festival was attended by thousands of Irish, somewhat Irish, and those just after an afternoon of fun to create one of the busiest festivals ever. The after-party at the Rocky Mountain Tavern was also a massive hit with an evening of music, dance and frivolity spread over two floors. Later in the month, the Embassy also played host to an evening of music with Irish composers Nick Roth and Anna Murray. The event, held at Maison Pernod Ricard in collaboration with Jameson Irish Whiskey, saw the world premiere of Roth’s latest composition Seed II.
June brought with it, arguably, the busiest month of the year with the Embassy of Ireland involved in three events. One of South Korea’s more well-known Irish expats – Professor Emeritus Kevin O’Rourke of Kyunghee University – published William George Aston in Korea in an event co-hosted by the Irish and British Embassies. Aston worked for the British Foreign Service during his time in Korea and the Derry-born civil servant holds the title of the first Irishman to live on these shores for an extended period of time. June also saw the Embassy of Ireland hire a booth for the first time at the Korea Queer Festival in Seoul Plaza, with the remit of informing people of Ireland’s work in securing victory in the same-sex marriage referendum last year. Finally, for a taste of home, the Hyundai Irish Gourmet Week gave everyone the opportunity to sample fresh Irish products (particularly seafood) at the Hyundai Trade Center Store in Gangnam. This was the precursor to an event held later in September by the Ambassador titled A Taste of Ireland which showcased the best in Irish food and drink. That month also saw the appointment ceremony of Concern Worldwide celebrity goodwill ambassador Lee Yoon-ji at the Irish Ambassadorial residence.
The year 2016 marked the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising back in the Republic; an event that still has repercussions today for both sides of the Irish border. Working in conjunction with the Liberal Arts department of Korea University, the Embassy offered a series of talks and short film screenings which were conducted to commemorate a key moment in the struggle for Irish independence from British rule. Additionally, in a more modern cinematic take, the Irish Association of Korea have worked in conjunction with the Embassy of Ireland to continue their annual video competition aimed at third level students. This year’s competition, titled Visions of Ireland offers a flight to Ireland and two weeks of English-language lessons for the talented winner.
At a time when the two countries are engaged in closer political, economic and educational dialogue, the Embassy of Ireland and the IAK work extensively to foster greater links between the two countries. This year also saw the first visit of a minister from the Irish Department of Agriculture to Korea as well as the first round of political dialogue between Ireland and Korea taking place in Dublin. It wasn’t the only Korea / Ireland connection of the year, as the Seoul Gaels organised a trip to Ireland for some of their kids team to play Gaelic Football. In addition, six of the ladies team also represented Team Asia at the inaugural World Gaelic Games in Dublin. As more potential for closer collaboration presents itself, 2017 promises to be as busy a year for the embassy, the IAK and the wider Irish community in Korea.
Embassy Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 09:00 – 12:30 and 13:30 to 17:00
Embassy of Ireland website: https://www.dfa.ie/irish-embassy/republic-of-korea/
Phone: (02) 721 7200
HALF A WORLD AWAY – SATURDAY 12th NOVEMBER
Tickets for the day are KRW10,000, This price includes breakfast, tours and admission to the evening event. Spaces are limited so pre-payment is necessary. Please reserve by November 9th. For bank transfer details please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you can’t make the day events, tickets for the Rocky Mountain Tavern Hootenanny only are also priced at KRW10,000 with payment on the door.
Facebook: Irish Association of Korea
Website: www.irishassociationof korea.kr