Ireland and Korea - 74

Koreans and the Irish

Having lived in the Republic of Ireland and Korea, I was always of the feeling that, apart from other Asian countries, Ireland is the country that Korea has the most in common with. St. Patricks day in SeoulThe two countries share many cultural similarities. If you do not agree read on. (In fact, even if you agree why not read on anyway and let me know your thoughts. My Email is shown in the back of this book). Take a look at the cultural similarities below -

Koreans and the Irish share:

- A very deep passion and culture of music. Music is an essential part of culture in Ireland and Korea.

- Writing/ literature is very important to both countries with the Hangol alphabet in Korea and many famous writers from Ireland, such as James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and George Bernard Shaw.

- Alcohol is also very prominent in both cultures.

- Big families that existed up until recent years in both countries (similar also to Italy).

- Both countries have previously been dominated/influenced by other bigger powers.

If you spend only a few weeks in Ireland or Korea, you will be aware very quickly of how important music, drinking and literature is to both Korea and Ireland. In Ireland, pubs are a part of everyday life to many, in a country where the drinking rate has always been one of the highest in Europe. Such is the importance of alcohol in Ireland, that we can now find Irish pubs all over the world, in almost if not every major city in world. The Irish made beer, ‘Guinness’, can similarly be found in supermarkets and pubs worldwide. The role of drinking alcohol, as discussed in the food chapter, plays a role not only socially on a large scale, but also as part of Korean business culture.

Korean.Hangul was designed in Korea and this is an area of pride for many Koreans: (Hangul - 한글 - is an expression first used by Ju Si-Gyeong in 1912 and its meaning is ‘great script’ or ‘Korean script’ according to the way it is translated). Literature and printing plays an important part in Korean history. Similarly, literature in Irish culture is very important, with Ireland having produced some renowned writers such as James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and George Bernard Shaw. Who can ignore the significance of music in Korea, with Norebangs to be found throughout the streets of Seoul? With performers such as ‘Westlife’, ‘U2’, ‘Corrs’, ‘Cranberries’ and ‘Sinead O’Conner’, Ireland has always produced an abundance of musical talent.

In Ireland, a lot of music is live although played in pubs rather than in specially made singing rooms (Norebangs). In addition to music and literature, Ireland and Korea have both suffered in the past from domination from other powers. Ireland suffered at the hands of the British, whilst the Koreans suffered under Japanese rule. Ireland with its Catholicism was also a country in the past where large families were an important part of its culture. In Korea, Confucianism and the emphasis on family and seniors, family has also been a very important part of its past.

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