Ambassador’s Message, 23 March 2012

“I thought you might be interested to learn that the Irish community registered in Korea has now exceeded 900, to be exact 904.  This is a very considerable and speedy increase  when you consider that there was less than half that number here in 2008 (428).

You will not be surprised to learn that most are involved in education, some 714 or almost 80%.  It is possibly higher than this because these numbers are based on the number of E2 visas and do not include Irish spouses of Korean nationals (59) or Irish permanent residents (19) some of whom may also be involved in the education sector.

Thinking about the increase in our community and indeed its geographic spread across Korea, is a good opportunity to think too about contingency planning.  You will recall I have been in touch with you some time ago.  For those who have arrived since then, I attached my previous message below.

I would appeal to anyone who has not done so to ensure that you are registered with the Embassy, in particular giving us mobile phone and landline numbers, skype addresses, location and next of kin. If you are registered with the Embassy, but your details have changed, please contact us with your new address and landline.  Your skype address is useful because the internet can often work when phone lines and mobile communications are down.   Please pass this message on to anyone who may have recently arrived and/or who has not registered.

I would like to reiterate that this information is for our purposes only and will not be shared with any other national authority.

The Embassy is currently reviewing and up dating its contingency plan, as a part of a worldwide exercise by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to ensure that we are ready to respond to major emergencies.  If you wish to input, we would be delighted to hear from you.

The Nuclear Security Summit next week and the anniversary of the disaster at Fukushima certainly put us in mind of a possible event here at one of Korea’s nuclear power plants. Indeed the difficulties at the Gori-1 plant at Busan last January underline the need for contingency planning.  I list below the location of the five nuclear power plants in Korea and request that anyone living nearby (perhaps within a 50Km radius) let us know.

None of this should be read as an alarm but merely, as the phrase suggests, ‘contingency’ planning.  The more complete and updated the Embassy’s register, the more likely we are to be in a position to help you or reassure your relatives of your safety.  If you have registered with us but have now left Korea, please let us know.

Best wishes,

Eamonn

Eamonn McKee
Ambassador

 

Nuclear Power Stations, Korea

Name                           Location
Gori                             Gijang-kun, Busan                         
New Gori                    Gijang-kun, Busan                         
Wolsung                      Gyungju-si, Guyngbuk                      
Youngkwang              Hampyung-kun, Jeonnam
Wooljin                       Wooljin-kun, Gyungbuk

Responding to Emergencies [as issued 28 May 2010]

In light of the current escalation of tensions between North and South Korea and the uncertainty of what may happen next, it might be useful to provide information on how to respond to an emergency.  You may find the following helpful.  If you have any ideas or suggestions, we would be delighted to receive them.

(i)                 The first step for Irish citizens is to ensure that your passport is up-to-date.  The second step is register with the Embassy.  Registration is simple. Click on www.embassyofireland.or.kr

and then click ‘Registering with the Embassy.’ Having information on how to send messages to you and/or to contact you is absolutely vital in the event of a sudden-onset emergency.

Based on the latest annual statistics available from the Korea Immigration Service we know that there are more than four hundred Irish who live in the Republic of Korea but only slightly more than half that figure appears on the Embassy’s Citizens’ Register.  I would urge you to encourage anyone who has not registered with the Embassy to please do so.  There may be concerns about confidentiality but I assure you that this information is not shared and is used solely by the Embassy.

(ii)               What advice is given in an Emergency very much depends on the kind of emergency and what the authorities are doing or planning in response i.e. whether it is natural or man-made, where it is imminent or underway, whether it requires a large movement of population and so on.

There is an ‘Emergency’ side bar on the Embassy’s website for general guidance.  For example in areas prone to emergencies or where there may be a need to move quickly in uncertain circumstances, it is often recommended to have a ‘grab bag’ readied containing vital documents and essential supplies (suggested items for inclusion are listed).

(iii)             Aside obviously from monitoring ongoing situations, the Embassy stays in close touch with the EU delegation here, other missions and with the Korean authorities.  The Embassy should be your first port of call if you are seeking advice.  In an emergency if contact with the Embassy is not possible, the Department of Foreign Affairs operates a Consular Assistance Unit in Dublin which provides advice, support and assistance to Irish citizens in emergency situations and to family members in Ireland who are concerned about the welfare of an Irish citizen abroad.

The Unit operates during normal Irish office hours (Monday-Friday). You can make contact with the Unit by telephoning +353 1 408 2000. Outside normal office hours, an Emergency Duty Officer is available at all other times (including weekends), 365 days a year (the contact number is the same).  The Embassy also provides a 24 hours service (016247 6455).  Please be advised that the Emergency Duty Officer should only be contacted in the event of a genuine emergency. If your query is not urgent, please wait until the next working day to contact the Embassy or making contact with the Consular Assistance Unit.

(iv)             In the event of an emergency, the Department of Foreign Affairs can mobilize its Crisis Centre.  It has done this on a number of occasions for example in response to 9/11and the 2006 crisis in the Lebanon. During an emergency, the Crisis Centre liaises with relevant missions abroad and national authorities, is manned 24 hours and issues free-phone numbers to members of the public in Ireland to trace relatives.  The Department can also send members of staff to the site of the emergency to assist.  The Travel Advice Section of the Department’s website contains further useful information (www.dfa.ie).

I hope this information is useful and reassuring.  Please feel free to forward any comments and please also encourage anyone you know who has not registered with the Embassy to do so. “

How happy are you with your quality of life here in Korea?

The other day The Irish Times ran the results of poll taken among Irish emigrants about their quality of life since leaving Ireland (you read the news report here).

Here at IAK towers we thought we ask the same question to you. Basically, how happy are you with your quality of life here in Korea, compared with that of Ireland? You may tick the appropriate box below.

(I had this poll up on Facebook earlier but thought it appropriate to put here also to make it more inclusive for those who don’t use Facebook – yes I know it’s mad, but those people actually exist!)

Never let it be said that we are the negative types trying to find reasons to complain about Ireland or Korea. I’m hoping we can garner some positive discussion here on the benefits of living in Ireland and the benefits of living in Korea, and vice-verse. I’ve been here for over five years and have had all sorts of experiences, from the wonderful to the mad to the … well we’ll stop there. I know plenty of Korean people, both within our organisation and who I’ve met working with the IAK who feel the same way about living in Ireland.

Feel free to leave a comment below if you’d like to share your own experiences.

Irish Korean Essay Competition- Award Ceremony

The Irish Association of Korea, in cooperation with the Irish Embassy and the Emerald Cultural Institute in Ireland, held the award ceremony for the winners of the inaugural Irish Korean essay competition at the Embassy’s St. Patrick’s Day reception on Friday evening March 16th 2012.

Towards the end of last year the Irish Association of Korea and the Embassy announced the inaugural Irish-Korean Essay Competition for university students in Korea. The competition involved  third  level Korean students writing an essay in English on some aspect of Irish Korean relations. The competition aimed to increase knowledge of Ireland amongst Korean students and highlighting Ireland as a leading destination to study abroad.  Over 100 entries were received and each one of them gave a valuable insight into how Ireland is viewed from Korea and what information is available about Ireland to Koreans.

The panel of judges including Irish Ambassador to Korea, Dr. Eamonn McKee and Irish Association of Korea chairperson Mr. Conor O’ Reilly awarded four prizes.

4th prize winner; Ms Yun Chae Young

Freedom, Creativity and Harmony-that Korea Should Learn: Irish Street Arts and Culture.

Ms Yun’s descriptions of the buskers and street performers of Ireland were truly evocative. In one particularly poignant scene she describes seeing a picture of an old man teaching the harmonica to a young girl at the world Fleadh in a relaxed meeting between old and young.  Ms Yun received a certificate, reading materials and cultural prizes.

The winner of third prize wrote a piece that reflected on the complementary traditions of waking the dead in Korea and Ireland .

Ms Nam Ji Hyun -The Wake’: A Window for Viewing Ireland and Korea.

The essay spoke of the festive funeral: when the relatives and friends of the person who has died can share a meal and a drink to celebrate their life and ease their passing.  Ms. Nam was unable to be at the award ceremony.

Second prize was awarded to Ms Choi Min Jeong for her essay: Exclusion and Revival of the Indigenous Language of Ireland and Korea

Ms Choi’s essay focused on the manipulation of language, both by coloniser and colonised, and her essay impressed the judging panel. Ms. Choi was awarded a certificate and a book voucher for 250,00won.

Ms Paek Jung Wonwon first prize for her essay, How Korean Women may learn from Irish Women.

Speaking at the award ceremony Ambassador Dr.  Eamonn McKee said ‘The issue of gender equality is a work in process across the globe. I do not think that any country, including our own, can claim to have got it right yet. Discussing the issue openly is absolutely critical to making progress. It takes courage and conviction to do this. Ms Paek has used the space provided by this competition to speak about the situation in Korea.”

Ms Paek was influenced in her writing by Fintan O’Toole of the Irish Times who sent her a message of congratulations.

Thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Emerald Cultural Institute, one of Ireland’s top class language institutes Ms Paek will spend a month studying English in Ireland. She also  received 2 million Won to facilitate her stay in Ireland.

The Irish Association of Korea would like to thank Embassy of Ireland in Korea and Emerald Cultural Institute for the support and sponsorship during the competition.

Ambassador’s Message, 19 March 2012

“I noticed with some trepidation the rain on Friday evening but come Saturday morning the sun was shining.  It augured well for the IAK’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival.  And what a day it was: by the reckoning of some organisers, the best one yet.  The amphitheatre at the D-Cube Plaza was full to capacity, its enfolding and steeply raked seats allowing not just an over-flowing crowd but a sense of intimacy amongst the large and cheerful Irish, ex-pat and Korean crowd.  The music and dancing was top class.  From spontaneous dancing by members from the crowd to organised dancing by practiced and first-timers alike under the expert direction and encouragement from Fr. Seán Connelly, the Festival was as we say, great ‘craic’.  The shopping mall provided plenty of food and beverages for the mingling crowd. People and family wandered from the venue to the shops and back again, stopping for some face-painting or buying the IAK’s t-shirts, all funds going to the Association’s fund raising effort in support of a monument to those Irish who lost their lives in the Korean war.

Many congratulations to the IAK and its volunteers for a memorable day.

We celebrated another IAK initiative, in cooperation with the Embassy and the Emerald Cultural Institute in Ireland (one of our premier EFL colleges), at the Embassy’s St. Patrick’s Day reception on Friday evening.  Along with IAK President Conor O’Reilly, it was my honour to award the prizes for our essay competition.  As you may recall, the competition involves third level Korean students writing an essay in English on some aspect of Irish Korean relations.

The following is an extract from my remarks at the prize-giving which will give you a sense of the quality of the winners and the value of the competition to Irish Korean relations.  I want to record my thanks to Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole, for sending a personal message to one of the prize winners who was inspired by his writing.

Whether you were with us or not at the Festival, I hope you had a great St Patrick’s Day and that you got the chance to catch up on some of coverage on RTE and in the Irish newspapers of the events around the world that celebrate Ireland, the Irish and the seventy million of Irish ancestry around the world.

Best wishes,
Eamonn

Eamonn McKee
Ambassador

 

*

IAK Ireland Korea Essay Competition – Prize Giving Remarks

To conclude this part of the evening, we have an important task.  We often reflect on the parallels in the historical narrative of Ireland and Korea.  We think about contemporary influences less so.

Thanks to the IAK, working with the Embassy, I can tell you about a new initiative that inspires just that.

Towards the end of last year the Irish Association and the Embassy announced the inaugural Irish-Korean Essay Competition for university students in Korea.

One of the challenges we face as a small country positioned on the far side of Europe is simply increasing knowledge of Ireland amongst Korean students and highlighting Ireland as a leading location for study abroad. This competition was designed to do just that by asking third level students to write an essay on the broad topic of connections between Korea and Ireland.

We were delighted with the results. Over 100 entries were received and each one of them gave us a valuable insight into how Ireland is viewed from Korea and indeed what information is available about Ireland to Koreans.

From comparisons between the stone walls of Jeju Island and the Aran Islands to the author who conducted an online survey of knowledge about Ireland among his or her friends, the essays were imaginative, informative and of an exceptionally high standard.

It was a tough task to narrow down the winners.  As one of the judges, I can attest to that! But after a short list was put together by the Irish Association, the final panel of judges came to agreement.

Most of the winners, I’m pleased to say, are with us here this evening.

5th prize winner: We have five prizes to award, starting with Ms Yun Chae Young, who wrote on 

Freedom, Creativity and Harmony-that Korea Should Learn: Irish Street Arts and Culture.

I loved this essay. Ms Yun’s descriptions of the buskers and street performers of Ireland are truly evocative and made me miss home! In one particularly poignant scene she describes seeing a picture of an old man teaching the harmonica to a young girl at the world Fleadh in a relaxed meeting between old and young.  I’d like to invite Ms Yun up to the stage to receive her certificate, some reading and a voucher to spend on a few more books to keep up her interest in culture.

Ms Yun, I do hope that you continue your interest in Irish culture – maybe at some stage Seoul will host an event like the Street Performance World Festival which has brought much excitement to Dublin and Cork over the past couple of years.

The winner of fourth prize wrote a piece that reflects on the complementary traditions of waking the dead in Korea and Ireland. Ms Nam Ji Hyun who wrote on The Wake’: A Window for Viewing Ireland and Korea, spoke of the festive funeral: when the relatives and friends of the person who has died can share a meal and a drink to celebrate their life and ease their passing. Ms Nam is unfortunately unable to be here this evening but we will make sure her prize and certificate gets to her.

Third prize goes to Ms Choi Min Jeong for her essay: Exclusion and Revival of the Indigenous Language of Ireland and Korea.  Many of the essays we received referred to the shared histories of Korea and Ireland as colonies of a neighbouring power. No other essayist drew on the social, historical and cultural circumstances and similarities in such a critical and thematic manner.

Ms Choi’s decision to focus on the manipulation of language, both by coloniser and colonised, marked her out as dedicated student of post-colonial literature as well as very well informed on the histories and cultures of our respective countries.

It gives me great pleasure to ask Ms Choi to join me and receive her prize of a book voucher of 250,000 Won and some additional reading. I have no doubt that you have many books you have your eye on and the voucher will be well spent.

Now we come to the final two prizes.

Both these essays are particularly strong but ultimately we had to choose a winner, and so second prize goes to Ms Paek Jung Won for How Korean Women may learn from Irish Women.

The issue of gender equality is a work in process across the globe. I do not think that any country, including our own, can claim to have got it right yet. Discussing the issue openly is absolutely critical to making progress. It takes courage and conviction to do this. Ms Paek has used the space provided by this competition to speak about the situation in Korea.

Ms Paek recognises that whilst the government sector should facilitate and encourage change, Korean women must challenge the status quo. If I could invite Ms Paek up to the stage to receive her certificate, her reading and cash prize of 1 million Won.

Before you step down I must tell everyone that Ms Paek was influenced in her writing by Fintan O’Toole of the Irish Times. I am delighted to say that Mr O’Toole has sent her a message of congratulations – He says:

“ Warmest congratulations on your splendid essay.

Real friendship between countries is not just a matter of polite expressions of mutual regard. It is about the capacity to learn from each other’s experiences. Perhaps even more importantly, it is about the way comparisons help us to understand, not just the other culture, but our own.

Your essay is a fine example of these ideas at work. Korea and Ireland do indeed share important experiences as small countries overcoming underdevelopment, coping with the legacy of conflict and seeking to balance change with identity. Korea’s successes can give hope to Irish people in our current difficulties. It is lovely to know from your essay that a young Korean woman can find some inspiration in the courage and strength of the Irish women who have fought for equality and respect. If all Korean women have the insight and passion you show in your essay, you will be a formidable force for change.

Warmest regards,
Fintan O’Toole”

Finally, we come to our winner. Ms Ro Seong Ja, who wrote a beautiful and imaginative essay named Barley – A Story of Resilience.  Ms Ro weaves a tale of the personal and the national experiences of both Ireland and Korea and brings a new perspective to the relationship between the countries. She begins with the smell of malted barley in the air around the Guinness Brewery in Dublin and then moves to her grandmother’s kitchen in Korea where the same smell comes from the Me-jew: bricks of boiled barley and soy beans which form the basis of Korean sauces.

I had not realised how integral barely was to both of our nations.  Our national drinks – Soju and Whiskey, share this as a main ingredient. As Ms Ro tells us, we both have used barley in times of need – in Korea to get through the lean season and in Ireland as a hardy supplement during famines.  It was also a handy food for the rebels of 1798.  Our Noble Laureate, Séamus Heaney, wrote inspiringly of the dead rebels lying in the fields, the barley in their pockets eventually springing to life.  Our songs too often sing of wind-swept barley. It now seems to me that simple barley is a redolent symbolic and cultural connection between Ireland and Korea.

Unfortunately, Ms Ro cannot be here this evening as she is currently studying in France but her sister has come to collect her prize on her behalf. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Emerald Cultural Institute, one of Ireland’s top class language institutes she will spend a month studying English in Ireland, at I may say an extremely advanced level. She will also receive 2 million Won to facilitate her stay in Ireland. I am delighted to be able to give this prize to you as Ms Ro’s representative.

My thanks to the Irish Association of Korea and to the Emerald Cultural Institute for making this competition possible. We hope that it will run successfully for many years into the future.

The fact that all five finalists were female shows the essay competition to be at least one area where women are actually ahead.  My only hope, in the interests of gender equality, is that next year a man might make it into the final five. I hope Korean men are up to the challenger.  Maybe we could have a man write in support of gender issues!

Thank you and Happy St Patrick’s Day.”

Daesung D-Cube City wins in the MIPIM Awards 2012!

Remember we asked you vote for D-Cube City in the MIPIN awards?

Well thanks to those of you that did vote, because D-Cube City has won the People’s Choice Award. Congratulations to Daesung and everyone at D-Cube!

And hopefully we will see some of you at the D-Cube City Plaza at the 2012 St Patrick’s Festival this Sat March 17th from 12:30 to 18:00. It looks like being a great day!

Schedule for St Patrick’s festival

We have the schedule for next Saturday’s free St Patrick’s Festival. There should be lots for everyone to enjoy:

12:30-13:00 US 8th Army Band
13:00-13:20 Introductory speeches by Irish Ambassador, Dr. Eamonn McKee and IAK chair Conor O’Reilly
13:20-13:50 Banu (traditional Irish group)
13:50-14:20 Step dancers + audience dancing (spot prize for best dancer)
14:20-15:00 Have No Name (Korean U2 tribute band)
15:00-15:30 Bard (Korean traditional Irish band)
15:30-15:45 Step dancers + audience dancing
15:45-16:00 Bard (Korean traditional Irish band)
16:00-16:30 Audience dancing (spot prize for best dancer)
16:30-16:45 Banu (traditional Irish group)
16:45-17:20 Dara Sheehan (Irish contemporary)
17:20-18:00 Sweet Murphy’s Fancy (contemporary rock band)

Here’s a clip from Have No Name (when they were known as Deafening Street)

All performance times and performers may change at the organisers discretion.

The evening hooley at the Rocky Mountain Tavern will have 2 floors of music, on the smoke free first floor level we will have performances by Dara Sheehan and Irish traditional group Irish Tea. Things are going to be a bit noisier on the second floor with Have No Name, The Drunk Democracy and Sweet Murphy’s Fancy all playing. Don’t forget the 6 nations rugby match (Ireland v England) will be shown at 02:00 am (internet feed). Tickets for the evening event will be available at the door (price 10,000 krw, drinks promotions on the evening).

Look here for full details

St Patrick’s Day next Saturday

Of course you know that St Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday this year (hurrah! Sunday morning lie-in) and of course you know that the IAK are organizing not one but two St Patrick’s Day events (a day time festival at D-Cube and an evening hooley at the Rocky Mountain Tavern – see here for details) but do you know when the next St Patrick’s Day on a Saturday is? It’s a slow afternoon here at IAK towers so we worked it out for you (i.e. we used the internet). Anyway it won’t be until 2018 that you’ll get that Sunday morning lie-in again. So you better make the most of next weekend and join us!

The last time St Patrick’s fell on a Saturday was 2007. Do you remember what you were doing on St Patrick’s that year? Here’s some photos from the IAK organized event in Seoul that year – see if you can recognise any faces!

St Patrick’s Festival 2012!

 

The IAK are proud to bring you St Patrick’s Festival 2012. This is the 12th year we’ve run this festival in Korea and we think this year will be one of the best. It takes place in the D-Cube Plaza near Sindorim station on Saturday March 17th (just over 2 weeks away), starting at 12:30 pm and finishing at 6 pm, and remember it is completely free. On stage we will have a great mix of music from Irish, Korean and international musicians, we’ll also have lots of Irish dancing and will be encouraging the audience to participate. Off stage we will have a range of Irish foods to sample, fun for kids (including face painting and balloon art), sporting demonstrations by the Seoul Gaels. Celebrations will continue after the daytime festival with a St Patrick’s party in the Rocky Mountain Tavern in Itaewon running from 7 pm til late. So put on your green clothes and come along on March 17th, everyone can be Irish for one day!

For full details look here http://iak.co.kr/events/st-patricks-2012/