The Irish Association of Korea will host a Remembrance Day event Saturday to remember the soldiers who fought in the Korean War, while also touching on the history of the Irish on the peninsula
“Half a World Away” will take guests to the Irish war memorials in the National War Memorial of Korea and at Happy Valley, a battle site of the Korean War, with guidance from Andrew Salmon, a local journalist who has written books on the Korean War.
“We’ve also flown in a gentleman called James Dorney, an award-winning Irish writer and historian, and he’s going to give a lecture on the Irish casualties in the Korean War, so it’s going to be a very interesting day,” said IAK Chairman Andrew Kilbride.
The day will begin at 10 a.m. with breakfast at the Hamilton hotel, where there will be a brief introduction by Irish Ambassador to Korea Aingeal O’Donoghue, and a brief presentation on the IAK by Kilbride.
There will then be a talk by Dr. Kevin O’Rourke on the history of the Irish in Korea, believed to have started in 1871, when an American vessel with five Irishmen aboard occupied an island near Incheon.
“He is going to talk about from that era on, and the major influences that some Irish people have had on Korean life here, including himself, who’s a quite distinguished writer and translator also,” said Kilbride.
This will be followed by a talk and a presentation by James Durney who has written two books on the Irish in the Korean War.
After this, buses will take guests to the memorials, with explanations provided by Salmon and Durney.
At the first memorial, in Seoul, there will be a reading of a poem by one of the Irish veterans of the Korean War.
“He wrote a poem called ‘The Korean Lament,’ and so there’s going to be a reading of that poem,” said Kilbride. “He was there at the unveiling of that memorial and he read it at that time. Unfortunately he has passed since.”
Kilbride said that some current soldiers from the Royal Ulster Rifles, which fought in Korea and suffered heavy casualties, will be present as well.
There will also be a wreath laying ceremony at the battlefield memorial.
The event takes place after Remembrance Day on Nov. 11, a day of commemorating war dead in the UK and Canada. Irish soldiers fought with the British during the Korean War.
“I believe there are 133 Irish casualties that we can account for,” said Kilbride.
“At the time Ireland was not a member of the UN and these soldiers were fighting with the British and American forces, though they need to be remembered in their own sense as soldiers from our country as well, not just as members of the British Army.”
“In Ireland they aren’t really acknowledged too much and that’s what we are trying to establish -- that they can be remembered, because obviously they have given their lives to a cause and basically helped the foundation of this nation,” he said.
Participation in the event costs 10,000 won ($8.70). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to book a place or for more information.
By Paul Kerry (email@example.com)