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When Irish eyes are smiling, Korea laughs as well

Mar 19,2007
Free Irish stew being distributed in a tent set up in Marronnier Park as part of the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations on Saturday.
A large group of people of diverse backgrounds gathered at Marronnier Park in Daehangno, Seoul, on Saturday afternoon. For the next few hours there were all Irish as they celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in a swirl of green and cold beer.
The festivities, organized by the Irish Association of Korea, continued from noon until six at night.
The park was crowded with people in green clothing, funny hats and T-shirts that had been provided by Guinness, the beer company.
Only those who participated in an online event sponsored by Guinness were given the hat and T-shirt, which proved to be very popular. Some of the girls who were not Irish even claimed that they were, so that they could win the right to be provided with the shirt.
A Guinness employee in the company’s booth, who barely understood English, just shook his head, but this was one of the few negative notes.
Green balloons filled the air while people stood in long lines to get free Guinness, Baileys or Irish stew made with lamb, potato and carrot. A few people had dressed as Leprechauns and excited Koreans gathered around to take pictures with them.
At the height of the celebrations, a parade took place, led by an enormous green worm.
Several rock bands, including one composed of Irish nationals, put visitors, foreigners and locals in a dancing mood. A group of foreign girls dancing to classic rock music sung by a Korean band amused the crowd.
In addition, an Irish folk dance that had Korean and foreign participants helped bring the celebration to an exciting crescendo.
Korea had its first St. Patrick’s Day celebration and parade in 2001, organized by Irish and Irish Americans living in Korea. The first parade was held in Myeongdong, downtown Seoul. Because of the growing size of the celebration and suggestions from the Korea National Tourism Organization the parade was moved to Itaewon in the following year.
The parade was moved to Daehangno in 2004 to increase the participation of Koreans.


Koreans taking pictures with men dressed as Leprechauns. By Lee Ho-jeong
By Lee Ho-jeong Staff Writer [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]



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