[FOUNTAIN]Irish in their mirrorIn recent years, Ireland has drawn international attention with its rapid economic growth. As a result of economic reforms in the past decade, Ireland joined the ranks of developed countries quickly. Koreans should also be interested in learning from the example of Ireland.
The country shares many characteristics with Korea. Both countries have similar geopolitical locations, and the Irish and the Koreans are both strongly nationalistic. The sentiment and temperament of the two peoples are very much alike. During the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup, the British newspaper the Financial Times described Koreans as “the Irish of Asia” because of their love for drinking, dancing and music.
A Seoul National University professor, Park Ji-hyang wrote in his book, “Sorrowful Ireland,” that Korea and Ireland have many historical and emotional similarities. Both Koreans and the Irish have blind patriotism, tend to think that their history is the most tragic and miserable in the world and have been through sufferings because of a powerful neighbor.
It is very well known that the sorrow of the Irish produced many artistic and literary masters. James Joyce, William Yeats, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and Samuel Beckett pulled Irish literature onto the world stage. Irish musicians such as U2 and Sinead O’Connor have earned international acclaim. Both the filmmaker John Ford and the actor John Wayne were of Irish descent, and Mr. Ford directed “The Quiet Man,” a movie that created the archetype of the simple and honest Irish, with John Wayne in the lead role.
In the 1990s, Irish filmmakers made movies about Northern Ireland’s conflict and the Irish Republican Army to remind viewers of their historical tragedy. “In the Name of the Father,” “Michael Collins,” and “Bloody Sunday” dealt with those historical events.
Ken Loach’s “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” is also a movie about the IRA. Set in the 1920s, the movie depicts two brothers’ involvement, their feuds and the course of their tragic confrontation. The director is a Briton critical of his country’s imperial past who decries violence that begets violence. The film reverberates in Korean hearts as we experience events that are a struggle between pragmatism and faith.
“Sorrowful Ireland,” another Irish film, shows a trend among Irish academics to break away from the emotional myths and narrow nationalism of the pose of the “most sorrowful country in the world.” It is worthwhile to study Ireland’s movement to objectify its own history.
*The writer is a culture and sports desk writer
of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Yang Sung-hee