One thing I was worried about when coming to teach in Korea was the culture shock. Being from Ireland, my friends and family all joked with me about how different life was going to be. Well, two years later I can honestly say I am still waiting for this “culture shock”. From the moment I arrived in South Korea I felt at ease. Yes the language was different, and sure the food was not the same, but Korean people are so caring and so nice that I felt right at home here. In fact, there are many similarities between the two cultures, so much so that I have never felt out of place being Irish in Korea.
Both populations are kind, warm hearted, and both populations like to feed you. My Korean friends are always giving me delicious food which was something that I thought was unique to Ireland, the nation of feeders. Korean people are very polite and gentle but shy at the same time. Age is really respected here, regardless of social stature, once a person is older than you; they are given the utmost respect. It’s no surprise that I’ve heard it said Korea is the Ireland of Asia.
One of the best things about living in South Korea is that there is a strong Irish community here, whether you are in Seoul, Busan or Daegu, you are bound to meet other people from back home. However, I was very surprised to discover that a group of Irish people established a GAA club in Korea (Gaelic Athletic Association). Even better the club is in my home city of Daegu. The club isn't just for Irish people however, as many Korean people and other foreigners often join in as well, whether it is for a game, a training secession or a social outing.