Apparently, in Korea, St. Patrick’s Day is something that is celebrating with moderate interest by a small community in most major cities. I was surprised to hear that there is indeed a distinct Irish community in Seoul. While there are a number of Irish-themed pubs and bars in Dongtan, with names such as Baby Guinness, I never would have thought that this would lead to there being dedicated celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day.
But then I remembered a rather important fact about South Korea – when it comes to Western influence, South Korea takes the lead from America in almost every way. When we were applying for jobs, many potential job listings stated that an American accent was preferred. Some listings even went so far as to be exclusively for people with American-style accents. The large department stores stock a wide variety of American snacks, treats, and paraphernalia, with the remainder of the world given cursory items such as some pasta from Italy, or biscuits from the UK. There are also a wide number of American fast food and coffee chains throughout Dongtan, such as Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Pappa John’s.
It is this American influence that undoubtedly led to the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. While St. Patrick may have been Irish, it is America that is more well-known for celebrating it in a swirl of green beer, Guinness, and poorly-attempted Irish accents. And, judging from the potential celebrations that we have been invited to or seen advertised around the city, this is the kind of celebration that South Korea has embraced.
So, in traditional Jodi and Kristen fashion, we have decided to avoid rampant spending and drinking. Instead, we will cuddle up, and watch a movie and play computer games. Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone.