Tag Archives: irish korean essay competition

Irish Korean Essay Competition has a new partner – Etihad Airways

The Irish Association of Korea is very proud to announce a new partnership with U.A.E. airline, Etihad Airways, for the Irish Korean Essay Competition. Etihad Airways are very happy to become partners of this very worthwhile competition which sees a Korean university student travel to Dublin to study English for one month in Emerald Cultural Institute, a leading Dublin English language school.


Etihad has an extensive network of connecting flights throughout Asia, Europe, North America, and Australia. Most important for the IAK, Irish people, and Korean people interested in travelling to Ireland, Etihad Airways recently established a connecting route from Dublin to Seoul via its Abu Dhabi hub.

The IAK look forward to working with Etihad Airways during the essay competition and in a number of other initiatives which shall take place throughout 2013.

Please visit www.etihadairways.com for more information on prices and their network.

Irish Korean Essay Competition Partners
Embassy of Ireland, South Korea www.embassyofireland.or.kr
Emerald Cultural Institute www.eci.ie
istowel Writers Week www.writersweek.ie
tihad Airways www.etihadairways.com

Irish-Korean Essay Competition 2012 – update

Thanks to all the applicants to the Ireland Korea Essay Compeition in 2012. All those who submitted entries should now have received an acknowledgement of the receipt of the essay from the Embassy of Ireland.

Due to some technical issues we have learnt that some essays were not received. If you have not received an acknowledgement from the Embassy please re-submit your essay as soon as possible and no later than 4 January 2013 to seoulembassy@dfa.ie copying iak.essay@gmail.com. If you have received an acknowledgement from the Embassy of Ireland then everything is ok and you don’t have to do anything.

Irish Korean Essay Competition, 2012 – Anniversaries

The Embassy of Ireland, Republic of Korea and The Irish Association of Korea,
in association with Emerald Cultural Institute,

proudly announce the

Irish-Korean Essay Competition 2012

for English as a second language university students in Korea.

Entrants are invited to make essay submissions on the subject of


Now accepting submissions* – final date for entries November 30, 2012 at 5pm

1st Place
Return flights to Dublin, four weeks study in Emerald Cultural Institute*, Dublin, and 2,000 Euro spending money (total value approx. 7,500,000 Korean won)

2nd Place
A cultural prize and cash to the value of 1,000,000 won

3rd Place
A cultural prize

4th Place
A cultural prize

5th Place
A cultural prize

For further details, please visit http://www.embassyofireland.or.kr or http://www.iak.co.kr/essay-competition

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Irish-Korean Essay Competition Winning Entry: How Korean Women May Learn From Irish Women

The Irish Association of Korea are very proud to finally make available to the public the winning essay of the inaugural Irish-Korean Essay Competition.

Our winner, Ms.Paek Jung Won is currently making her plans to travel to Dublin to study for one month in the Emerald Cultural Institute, who have supported this competition from the very start.

We would like to wholeheartedly thank ECI for their generous prize, one month study in their institute (valued at over 1,200 Euro), and also the Embassy of Ireland in South Korea without whom this competition would remain a figment of our humble association’s imagination.

The Irish Association of Korea, on behalf of the Embassy of Ireland and Emerald Cultural Institute, would like to thank all of our competition entrants, without whom we would not be able to award this prize today. The level of enthusiasm which the Korean student body approached this competition was overwhelming and we hope that we can host future competitions in the years to come.

And now, without further delay, our winning essay.

How Korean Women May Learn From Irish Women

by Paek Jung Won

How Korean Women May Learn From Irish Women

People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.1

<Mrs. Warren’s Profession, 1893, George Bernard Shaw>

If God invented soju to prevent the Koreans from ruling the world, then who invented Korea? It wouldn’t be a complicated task for Declan Kiberd to write an alternative edition of Inventing Ireland (1996)2, if he spent some time with Father Patrick James McGlinchey3 who has been combatting poverty in Korea since 1953; Inventing the Ireland of Asia. Although, most of Kilberd’s publications deal with literary colossuses, it isn’t an exaggeration to state that Irish literature is an emblem of Ireland herself. Simultaneously, that is one of the better reasons why common Korean people recognise the Emerald island; Yeats, Shaw, Wilde, Joyce and Heaney being familiar names for many Koreans.4

It may seem absurd trying to draw parallels between two countries that don’t even have a single direct flight between them. Even more absurd when there are just over 800 Irish people in a total Korean population of almost 50 million5, and probably just over 1,000 Koreans living in Ireland.6 However, this makes our journey more fascinating. Prior to researching this essay, other than the aforementioned writers, I just knew about Guinness, U2 and my professor. However, I now know that links and similarities between Ireland and Korea are more qualitative rather than quantitative.

In spite of the long distance between the two nations, they share remarkable analogous geographical conditions, agonizing histories, and vivacious dispositions. Both have had terrible colonial pasts; both countries are divided; both have their own native language7; both have their own traditional music; and each seems to have a liking for alcohol, whiskey for the Irish and soju for Koreans. South Korea8 is roughly the same size the island of Ireland.9 The Miracle of the Han River, can I’m told10, be compared with the Celtic Tiger.

However, there are also other links which are less positive; the many Irish who died in the Korean War, both soldiers11 and civilians12; corrupt politicians in both countries13; the child sex abuse scandals in Ireland, especially those involving Catholic priests compared to the abuse of handicapped children in Korea as seen in the recent movie Dogani14; and the misfortune of having the IMF enter our countries to fix our economies (I hope the Irish economy recovers as quickly as Korea’s did), with indeed, the same man Ajai Chopra involved each time.15

Thus, as we can see there are positives as well as negatives between Ireland and Korea, and it is clear that both countries can learn from each other. “Ireland without her people means nothing to me”16 isn’t only applicable to President Michael D. Higgins’ inauguration speech.17 People are considered the most valuable resources in each country, and it’s on this that I’m going to focus my essay.

As a young Korean woman, an area that interests me greatly is that of gender equality, and it is one where Korea may learn and benefit from the courage and conviction of Irish women.

In the very words of the aforementioned Fr. McGlinchey, “These women sacrificed everything for their children. I had never seen anything like it before.”18 He was referring to women on Jeju Island. Well if this is true, then why are Korean women still treated like second class citizens? Korea has always had great and heroic women who have played a huge part in our development as a “modern nation”.19

Ireland has also had her great women in history.20 Indeed the country itself is nearly always referred to in the female voice. As Edna O’Brien21 puts it,

Ireland has always been a woman, a womb, a cave, a cow, a Rosaleen, a sow, a bride, a harlot, and, of course, the gaunt Hag of Beara.”22

However for too many years Ireland’s and Korea’s treatment of their women folk has run along almost parallel lines of gender inequality and discrimination. Many reasons exist for this but it’s no great exaggeration to state that the biggest one in Ireland was the power and control of the Catholic Church, and in Korea it has been inveterate Confucianism. Indeed in Ireland under the constitution “the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.23

However, in recent times in the case of Ireland there seems to have been a significant move away from the bias that was once held against women towards greater equality and recognition. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for my own country.

In the recent Global Gender Gap report revealed by the World Economic Forum (WEF)24, Ireland ranked in 5th place out of 135 countries whereas Korea ranked 107th. The report revealed that “South Korea’s gender inequality is even worse than that of some Islamic countries.25 After reading an article by the journalist Fintan O’Toole, “10 things an Irish woman could not do in 1970”26, it is clear that there has been an improvement in the lot of the Irish woman. There are many reasons for this but the one I’d like to examine in this essay is the role that ordinary Irish women have played in this great change because I believe that Korean women can greatly learn from them.

It’s easy enough to mention well-educated and powerful women; the Mary Robinson’s27, the Mary McAleese’s28, the power of the suffragettes, bra burning and all that. However, if you’re not that well-educated, are poor, and don’t have some powerful organisation to support you, and you’re the victim of inequality, discrimination and injustice, what do you do? What can you do? You act like Mary McGee, Josie Airey, and Lavinia Kerwick;29 women who took matters into their own hands and changed the system from the bottom up. I could mention many other Irish women in this regard but these are the three that I’ll focus on as their stories may inspire Korean women to strive for change against gender inequality.

Mary McGee was an Irish housewife with four kids. Or perhaps it would be more appropriate to call her a caravan-wife as she lived in a caravan with her husband. She didn’t want to have any more kids but didn’t wish to stop having sex. She couldn’t even refuse to have sex with her husband even if she wished, as this was one of the 10 things an Irish woman could not do in 1970. Marital rape didn’t become a crime until 1990.30 However, in the church controlled 1970’s contraceptives were prohibited, as in the eyes of Catholicism, procreation is only reason to have sex. Mrs. McGee attempted to import contraceptives but they were confiscated by the Irish customs service. She took a law case against the Irish state which went to the Supreme Court, and she won. Her action opened the gateways for contraceptives to be legalized for all Irish adults in 1985.31

Josie Airey was an Irish housewife who wanted a judicial separation from her husband. However, she couldn’t afford to pay a lawyer to represent her. She sought legal assistance from the Irish state but it basically told her to represent herself in court. She did and she failed to get the separation. “With the assistance of the Free Legal Advice Centres, she pursued her case all the way through the Irish court system, being successfully opposed at every stage by the State.32 Her challenge failed and she went to the European Court of Human Rights which found Ireland to be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights because it had failed to provide legal assistance to her. This whole legal battle may have taken 10 years of Mrs. Airey’s life but it forced the Irish government to eventually introduce a civil legal aid scheme in Ireland.

Lavinia Kerwick wasn’t afraid to “lose face”33. She was only 18 when she was raped. At trial William Conry pleaded guilty to this rape. However, the judge adjourned sentence for a year to “give him a chance”. 34 Kerwick was distraught but did something that showed immeasurable courage. She revealed her identity as the victim, regardless of the stigma and shame that might follow. No Irish woman had ever done this before. This brave action brought the whole issue of rape, rape trials and soft sentencing out in the open. The Irish people were incensed by the judge’s action. A Criminal Justice Bill was drafted shortly after the trial that allowed unduly lenient sentences to be appealed. Even though at re-sentencing Conry only received a nine year suspended sentence, Miss Kerwick’s brave action probably resulted in many dangerous criminals spending longer time in prison.

The actions of these three brave Irish women not only affected their private lives but brought change for all Irish women. None of them were rich and I don’t think any of them had a university education. However, their courage and example has encouraged and caused other women to challenge issue of gender inequality and discrimination in Ireland.35Korean women can learn from them.

I’m not saying that gender equality is perfect in Ireland but it is far better than it was forty years ago. My mother and her friends tell me that very little has changed in Korea.

At present, Korea ranks 41st in the gender equality ratio among 45 countries that the World Banks classifies as high-income countries using GNI per capita. 36

Admittedly something is being done in the Korean public sector to improve this terrible situation. 300 laws have been revised to eliminate gender bias since 2005. Our Constitutional Court has struck down provisions in the Civil Code that said that only men could head of the household. Children are no longer obliged to take their father’s surname.37 We had our first Prime Minister, Han Myung-sook in 200738. Yes, certain progress is being made…slowly. However, it all only seems to be in the public sector and from the top down. The following statement seems to confirm this.

Our strategy has been to change the laws and institutions first so the rest of the society can catch up in changing attitudes and culture in favor of gender equality,” said Chung Bong-hyup, director general at the Ministry of Gender Equality, which was established in 2001.39

A friend of mine had an interview recently for a big company in Korea and she was asked the old riddle about the boy being injured in a car accident. His father was killed and when he was taken to the hospital, the doctor that met him said, “That’s my son”. Why? Obviously, because it was his mother. The possibility of a woman being a doctor seems to be oblivious to some Korean employers. Korea’s four largest conglomerates — Samsung, Hyundai, LG and SK — have less than 2 percent of seats on their boards, while there are almost no female executives at South Korean banks. In 2007, only 60.9 percent of women with college or graduate degree were employed. Women bring in only 52 percent of what men get in wages, according to the U.N. Development Program’s gender empowerment measure.40

These are not very encouraging statistics from a woman’s perspective for the world’s 13th largest economy. And it’s not until Korean women start displaying the same kind of courage and determination as Mary McGee, Josey Airey, or Lavinia Kerwick and many other Irish woman that can I see them ever changing. Only then can Korea said to be a truly “modern nation”.

To conclude, with Shaw from my opening quotation, Korean women need to “look for the circumstances” we want, and if we “can’t find them, make them”!



Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English: The Living Dictionary.2003. Essex. Pearson Education Limited.

Voices and Poetry of Ireland.2004. London. Harper Collins Publishers.



2 Kilbred, Declan. 1996. Inventing Ireland: The Literature of a Modern Nation: Literature of the Modern Nation: Harvard University Press.

4 My major is English language & literature, and I have studied most of these writers. One of my favorite poems is “What Then” by William Butler Yeats as read by Seamus Heaney in Voices and Poetry of Ireland. 2004. London. Harper Collins Publishers.

5 The Irish Embassy Website states that there is “a community of 836 Irish citizens, registered by the Korea Immigration Service as of 30 June, 2011.”: http://www.dfa.ie/home/index.aspx?id=82913

6 Posted by Andrew on October 18th, 2010, in the article, “Dublin opens a Korean school”, on the blog http://speakingkorea.com/2010/10/18/dublin-opens-a-korean-school/

I realize that this figure refers to Dublin only and that more Koreans are living outside of Dublin. For example, these Korean soccer players in Sligo, as told in the Irish Independent of October, 28th by Daniel McDonnell:http://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/league-of-ireland/seoul-brothers-league-of-irelands-korean-connection-2919626.html

My professor also told me that he knows about 10 Koreans living in Limerick.

7 My professor told me that less than 20% of the people speak Gaelic these days.

9 32,595.1 square miles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ireland

10 An Economics professor at my university told me this.

11 Many Irish soldiers fought in the U.S. army in the Korean War from. The Irish in Korea: Irish Men and Women Who Gave Their Lives in the Korean War, edited by Brian McGinn, 18th December, 2008 on the website: http://www.illyria.com/irishkor.html

Incidentally, my professor told me that one of these soldiers, Billy Scully, is buried very near his father, in Galbally cemetery, County Limerick. It’s a small world, indeed.

12 The Irish Independent, Donal Lynch, March 9th, 2008. Korean war stories never to be forgotten: http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/korean-war-stories-never-to-be-forgotten-1311543.html

13 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Burke_(Irish_politician)

RTE website, 26th May, 2009. Dunlop sentenced to two years for corruption: http://www.rte.ie/news/2009/0526/dunlopf.html

Jeon Duhwan 전두환, Noh Taewoo 노태우

14 Directed by Hwang Donghyuk, 2011

15 Efinancialcareers.ie. 29 November 2010. Who is Ajai Chopra, Ireland’s new household name?: http://news.efinancialcareers.ie/News_ITEM/newsItemId-29730

16 President Higgins was quoting the great Irish Socialist leader, James Connolly who was executed for his part in the 1916 Easter Uprising, when Higgins was inaugurated as Ireland’s new president on November 12th last. My professor told me this information.

17 RTE, Inaugural speech of President Michael D Higgins, publisher unknown, November 11, 2011: http://www.rte.ie/news/2011/1111/higgins_speech.html

18 Ibid. at footnote 3

19 For example over 200 women participated in the Easter Rising such as Winnie Carney, Julia Grenan and Elizabeth O’Farrell as described in Women in the 1916 Rising on youtube. Uploader,cobrolchain2, June 21, 2008: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiZJ2C8EwSA

20 Woo Gwan-Sun유관순, Non Gae 논개, Heo Nan-Seol-Hun 허난설헌

21 She wrote a very novel “The Country Girls” in 1960. It was very controversial at the time and was banned. My professor provided me with this information.

22 These Irish Times articles are very important to my essay. I have not been able to find the exact date of publication for them. Sarah McPartlin from the Irish Times says by e-mail that they may just have been a “special online only feature”. I know that they were posted in 2010 as they commemorate 40 years of change in the lives of Irish women from 1970.

The Irish Times Special Online Edition. Compiled by Fintan O’Toole. 2010. Agents of change 25 women who made a difference: http://www.irishtimes.com/indepth/sisters/agents-of-change.html

24 mk Business News. Written by Mi-yeon Kim – Ha’eun Bang / edited by Soyoung Chung. November 2, 2011: http://news.mk.co.kr/english/newsRead.php?sc=30800006&cm=English%20News_&year=2011&no=711685&selFlag=&relatedcode=&wonNo=&sID=308

25 Ibid.at footnote 24

26 The Irish Times Special Online Edition. Compiled by Fintan O’Toole. 2010. Ten things an Irish woman could not do in 1970: http://www.irishtimes.com/indepth/sisters/changes-from-1970s.html

27 Ireland’s first woman president from 1990-1997: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/President_of_Ireland. My professor told me about her famous Mná na hÉireann inauguration speech.

28 Ireland’s second woman president from 1997-2011: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/President_of_Ireland

33 Losing face is a very big taboo in Korean culture. 양반은 물에 빠져도 개헤엄은 안친다.

37 The New York Times. Choe Sang-Hun. March 1st, 2010. The Female Factor: Korean Women Flock to Government:


38 GENDER INEQUALITY IN KOREA. Professor Kim Eun-Gi (publication date unknown):


Prof. Kim Eun-Gi is a professor at the department of International Sociology at Korea University.

40 Ibid. footnote 37. All these statistics are from the article Korean Women Flock to Government: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/02/world/asia/02iht-women.html?pagewanted=all

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 McKee



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.”

Inaugural Irish-Korean Essay Competition Winners Announced!

The Irish Association of Korea, and the Embassy of Ireland, South Korea, in association with the Emerald Cultural Institute, Dublin, are very proud to announce the winners of the inaugural Irish-Korean Essay Competition for university students in Korea. The competition raised awareness about connections between both Ireland and Korea. The lucky winner receives a month long opportunity to study at a leading Irish language institute. Second prize will receive a sum of money, while the remaining Runners up will also receive cultural prizes.

Details of the Competition

The competition was administered by the Irish Association of Korea, a non-profit organization which actively seeks to promote Ireland and all that falls under the banner of ‘Irishness’ within Korea, and supported by the Embassy of Ireland in Seoul. The competition was designed to highlight Ireland as a leading location for study abroad, and as a unique and fascinating cultural destination.

Conor O’Reilly, the chairman of The Irish Association of Korea and a lecturer in Kyunghee University, explained that the closest and strongest bonds which exist between Korea and Ireland are between the people and their own personal experiences. “There are stronger connections between Irish and Korean people than you may think” he explained. ” More and more Korean people are connecting with Ireland on a personal level, and it is because of these individual connections that Korean people and Irish people are developing a stronger affinity together”, Mr. O’Reilly explains.

“The topic for the Essay competition was quite vague – deliberately – to allow essayists to show their creativity as well as their language and research ability. “

The first prize winner ‘How Korean Women may learn from Irish Women’ is a thought provoking piece on social change in two very different but traditionally socially conservative societies. I am proud that the competition provided a space for such topics to be discussed” said judges for the competition.

It is through this inaugural Irish-Korean Essay Competition in Korea that the The Irish Association of Korea and the Embassy of Ireland in South Korea sought to strengthen these personal ties by offering Korean university students the special opportunity to experience Ireland first-hand, and to develop their own relationships with Ireland.

Winning Essays

  1. How Korean Women May Learn from Irish Women
    Paek Jung Won
  2. Exclusion and Revival of the Indigenous Language of Ireland and Korea
    Choi Min Jeong
  3. ‘The Wake’: A Window for Viewing Ireland and Korea
    Nam Ji Hyun
  4. Freedom, Creativity and Harmony that Korea Should Learn: Irish Street Arts and Culture
    Yun Chae Young

Irish-Korean Essay Competition Shortlist Announced!

The Irish Association of Korea and the Embassy of Ireland in South Korea, in association with Emerald Cultural Institute, are proud to announce the shortlist of ten candidates in contention for winning the inaugural Irish Korean Essay Competiton.

This competition commenced in October of 2011, and final entries were received on November 30, 2011. Since then, over 110 entries have been independently and anonymously read, assessed and judged according to strict criteria.

Full details of the competition can be found here.

Today, after much deliberation, we are happy to release the shortlist of candidates in line for winning the grand prize of one month study in the Emerald Cultural Institute in Dublin, plus spending money.

Congratulations to all entrants who have made it to the shortlist stage of the competition!

Due to a continued policy of anonymity so that the final judging process remains impartial, the essays can only be referred to by title.

Irish Korean Essay Competition – Shortlist

  1. Freedom, Creativity and Harmony that Korea Should Learn: Irish Street Arts and Culture
  2. Transition Year: Opening Yourself up to Dreams
  3. My Favorite Children’s Song and Ireland
  4. ‘The Wake’: A Window for Viewing Ireland and Korea
  5. Partnership Beyond the Commanality
  6. Barley – A Story of Resilience
  7. Make Ireland Maze Island
  8. How Korean Women May Learn from Irish Women
  9. Exclusion and Revival of the Indigenous Language of Ireland and Korea
  10. Ireland and Korea, a Step Forward

Winners will be contacted on Friday, February 17th, and following this the full details will be posted on both websites of the Irish Association of Korea and the Embassy of Ireland.

Each competition entrant has already been contacted directly in relation to their submission. The judging panel regret that no particular comment can be made in relation to any essay. We would like to thank all entrants for their submissions and we encourage all eligible entrants to try again in 2012.