Monthly Archives: August 2013

Irish Memorial and Veterans Revisit

Ambassador’s Message – Irish Memorial and Veterans’ Revisit

18 April 2013

We commemorate this year the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Korean War.  Ireland was not a member at its outbreak and so we could not be one of the contingents fighting under UN Command.  However, many men of Irish birth and heritage fought and died in the War, mainly with Commonwealth and US forces.

Next week we will unveil a memorial to them.  Veterans from Ireland will form part of the Commonwealth Revisit.  I would like to apprise you of the Irish dimension to the Revisit which is a new departure made possible by the Northern Ireland peace process and the historic reconciliation between Ireland and Britain.

Our Korean War veterans in Ireland are currently making their final preparations for their long journey here next week.

Old soldiers and elderly gentlemen, they are still game, joking that after seeing all the media coverage of [heightened tensions on] the peninsula recently they should pack their boots just in case they are needed again to defend South Korea.  We are really looking forward to meeting them.

The Commonwealth Revisit programme will keep them busy with ceremonies and visits to battle sites and the UN Cemetery in Busan.

Veterans will travel on Tuesday to Jeokseong for the memorial to the Glosters who were annihilated at the Battle of the Imjin River in April 1951. The Royal Ulster Rifles’ dogged resistance, along with other elements of the 29th British Brigade, blunted the Chinese onslaught, allowed UN forces to withdraw in order, helped stymie the most concerted attempt of the War to defeat UN forces (these events are memorialised by Koreans as “1.4”).   I am co-hosting a welcoming reception at the British Ambassador’s Residence that evening.

On Wednesday we will all attend the Commonwealth Memorial Ceremony in the morning and then travel in the afternoon to the site of the Battle of Happy Valley (January 1951).

After the ANZAC Dawn Service on Thursday morning, we will dedicate the Irish Memorial at the War Memorial of Korea.  Guests will include relatives of the veterans, representatives of the Columban Order, Commonwealth Ambassadors and Defence Attachés and the Korean Minister for Patriot and Veterans Affairs, Mr Park Sung-choon.  The Canadian Minister for Veterans Affairs, Mr Steven Blaney, will also attend: he feels a deep affinity with his Irish heritage and we are very happy to have him attend our dedication.  That evening, the Minister Park will host a thank-you banquet at the Lotte Hotel for all the Commonwealth Veterans.

On Friday, our veterans will be part of the Commonwealth Veteran’s trip to Busan.  On Saturday, they will visit the DMZ and conclude the day with a Reception at our Residence.

Meanwhile, our Korean sculptor is busy completing the memorial itself which we designed as a simply hexagon plinth topped with an image of the island of Ireland and with inscriptions on its facets embracing all those of Irish birth or heritage who lost their lives in the war, including soldiers and missionaries.

The Irish dedication ceremony will be an intensely personal one for the attending veterans.  They came through some of the most intense combat of the twentieth century and saw many of their comrades fall.  Sixty years may seem like a long time but life passes quickly and memories stay fresh.  The memorial is just stone and words but it will help recover and preserve the contribution that these veterans and all those who died in the war made to Korea and to the success of the only war fought under the UN flag.

Best wishes,

Eamonn

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August 6, 2013 · 11:47 am

Irish Dimension to the Korean War

2013 marks a number of anniversaries; 80 years since the Columban Order arrived in Korea, 60 years since the Armistice that brought the Korean War to an end and 30 years of diplomatic relations between Ireland and Korea.  We marked this with a Photo Exhibition at the Korea Foundation called History and Vitality, Stories of Ireland and Korea which tried to capture visually past and present relations.  The history of our relations is primarily that of people, whether in the service of Empire, faith, nation, business or war.  One project that became immensely rewarding and one of the highlights of my posting to Korea was the recovery and commemoration of the Irish contribution to the Korean War. The following short account sets out the role, largely unknown, played centrally by the Royal Ulster Rifles, a key unit of UN Command, with special thanks to writer and historian Andrew Salmon for his major contribution to this project.

Ambassador’s Message – The Fighting Irish of the Korean War

22 March 2013

Yesterday evening I attended Andrew Salmon’s lecture on the “The Fighting Irish of the Korean War” at the Korea Foundation.  The term “lecture” does not do it justice.  His delivery, engagement with the audience, his knowledge of the people and engagements, his use of audio-visual materials and personal engagement with the characters involved made it an immersive and compelling experience.  The scheduled hour turned into two as Q and A turned into a collective discussion.  It was really history as theatre and I, like the rest of the audience, left with a vivid account of experience of the 1st Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles (RUR) and 8th Kings Royal Irish Hussars in the Korean War. 

The RUR were the spearhead battalion of the British 29th Brigade, Britain’s strategic reserve which was committed to the Korean campaign.  Composed 50/50 of Catholics and Protestant, its soldiers were tough and experienced fighters, proud and quick with their fists.  Many, both enlisted and officers, were veterans of WWII.  The RUR lost most men in the ironically named Battle of Happy Valley in January 1951 when they were pulling back along a frozen river after resisting a Chinese “human wave” attack on their position north of Seoul.  Inadvertently illuminated by flares from a passing UN aircraft, they were raked with gun fire from the hills and charged by the bayonet wielding Chinese.  Hand-to-hand fighting ensued, extremely rare in modern battle as Andrew noted.  The ten tanks of the Irish Hussars were immobilised by stick bombs, their engines petering out as the morning broke when their fuel ran out.   Seoul would fall for a second time.

The following April, the RUR found themselves in a central salient along the UN line which was dug in at the Imjin River, again just north of Seoul, with the main body of US forces to their right.  The Chinese Army seemed to have melted away and routine patrols could not find them.  In fact, Chinese genius with camouflage concealed the fact that some 300,000 troops were massed for an assault.  The attack, launched on 22nd April, was designed to overwhelm the UN forces, surround and destroy the main US force, and take Seoul for a third and final time.  Stretched supply lines and limited motorised transport meant the Chinese 63rd and 64th Armies had about six days to do this. 

The Chinese attack when it came was a complete surprise to UN forces and the RUR found themselves in a vicious fight, along with the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers, the Gloucestershire Regiment (the Glosters) and a Belgium battalion, all bearing the weight of the main Chinese thrust South.  As the 29th pulled back in a fighting retreat on 25th April to a blocking position which they then held, the Glosters were isolated on a hill top and annihilated by wave after wave of Chinese troops (some 622 of 650 were lost, either dead, wounded or missing; 34 would die in captivity). 

The stout resistance of the 29th Brigade, along with the Belgium troops, allowed the main US force to extricate itself and move south, avoiding the pincher movement that would have sealed victory for the Chinese and disaster for the UN forces.  US General Ridgeway, as UN Commander, responded with all the enormous firepower at this disposal, including naval artillery, inflicting serious losses on the 63rd Chinese Army (perhaps 10,000 or one third of its fighting force) which, its supplies exhausted, was stopped five miles short of Seoul. 

The UN had withstood the largest massed attacked by a communist army since the Soviet capture of Berlin in 1945.  It was the last decisive action of the Korean War.  Though the War would drag on in often heavy skirmishing along the 38th parallel until 1953, Seoul and the Republic of Korea were saved at the battle of Imjin River.  If the Chinese had failed in their objective of seizing Seoul and dealing a crippling blow to US prestige, Andrew noted, they had nonetheless taken the field against the US, driven the UN forces from North Korea, preserved the DPRK and announced their arrival as a major world power.

British military causalities in the Korean War exceeded those later suffered in the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan combined.  That said, as Andrew pointed out, for every non-US soldier fallen, the US lost 30 soldiers in the Korean War (many Irish American, as the names in the UN Cemetery in Busan attest). 

Andrew is an expert on the British Army’s role in the Korean War about which he has written two books; To the Last Round, The Epic British Stand on the Imjin River, Korea 1951 and Scorched Earth, Black Snow, Britain and Australia in the Korean War, 1950.  Though he has interviewed many Irish veterans and clearly loves the men, ethos and memory of the RUR and Irish Hussars, he eschews the notion that he is an expert on Irish involvement.  Still, I am deeply grateful for all that he has done to shed some light on this little known dimension of Irish Korean relations.  You can check out his website here http://tothelastround.wordpress.com/

Today, the RUR lives on as the Royal Irish Regiment.

(Please note that any inaccuracies in the above account are solely mine and not Andrew’s!)

Best wishes,

 

Eamonn

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Special Winter Olympics, Korea

Sometimes the word ‘inspiring’ is over-used or misapplied but there is no more apt description of the participants and their supporters at this very special event.

Ambassador’s Message – Irish Team at the Special Olympics World Winter Games Pyongchang, South Korea

1 February 2013

 It was my pleasure and honour to attend the Host Town dinner at Seoul Women’s University for the Irish Special Olympics Team on Monday evening.  If you follow us on twitter (@IrishEmbKorea) you would have seen a photo or two.  Seoul Women’s University hosted Ireland, Jamaica and the Isle of Man, an alphabetical grouping that coincidentally grouped three teams about the same size in number and all from islands.  The University had a buddy system so that every member of the three teams was accompanied by one student who was fluent in English.  Activities included excursions, games and explorations of Korean food and culture. 

You could tell from the atmosphere at the dinner and the video diary of the orientation that all the participants had had a great time.  As our guests at the dinner the Embassy invited Father O’Neill from Gwanju who has spent 54 years in Korea doing wonderful work for those with special needs and Sister Ger Ryan who has been engaged in the same kind of amazing work in Mokpo for almost as long.  We also invited Conor O’Reilly, President of the Irish Association of Korea, and Thomas Gaughan, head of the Seoul Gaels, both of whom are leading their organisations with great energy and commitment.  The evening was a wonderful start for our athletes.  I want to thank President Rhee Kwang-ja for the generous hospitality of her University and all the ‘buddies’ who introduced our team to the Korea and generally settled them in with such kindness.

Tuesday morning the teams were bussed to Pyongchang for the opening ceremony and the start of the games.  I headed to the airport to pick up the Special Olympics delegation of CEO Matt English, Frances Kavanagh, Pat Kickham and famed sports photographer Ray McManus.  We arrived, thanks to the amazing infrastructure linking Seoul to Gangwon near the east coast, in good time to register and attend the opening ceremony.  Some 111 teams proudly carried their flags in the parade. 

President Lee officially opened the games, following welcoming speeches by the Special Olympic global messengers, Burmese democracy advocate An San Suu Kyi, world champion skater Kim Yu-na, and Special Olympics Chairman and CEO, Timothy Shriver.  As usual, our Korean hosts outdid themselves with not only with the preparations but also with the programme of videos and live entertainment that made up the Ceremony’s programme.

Wednesday morning the games proper started with the Irish floor ball team winning their games to be placed in division two and later that day beating their hosts South Korea 11-1 (also see @IrishEmbKorea).  Participating for the first time in this demonstration sport, the team went on to take Bronze: they are certainly capable of much more at future games, having been pipped at the post by one point against Austria for a place in the final. 

You can’t help yourself taking pride in such performances but its important to recall that the goal is participation.  The motto of the Games is “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”  Overcoming all the challenges they face, the participants take joy in the hours of participation and the moments of victory, whether that victory is a medal or the achievement of completion.  It is a lesson to us all to appreciate what we have and the simple pleasures of each day.

The team, coaches, Special Olympic officials and family members are delighted that local Irish supporters are making the effort to come and support them; Deputy Head of Mission Ruth Parkin and family with lead a bus load there for the Alpine skiing this Saturday.  For regular news and updates on the Irish Team’s activities at the Special Winter Olympics go to  www.specialolympics.ie/WHATWEDO/EVENTSANDGAMES/2013WORLDWINTERGAMES.aspx .

Matt English, his team and all their army of volunteer supporters in Ireland do amazing work for those with special needs (for more information go www.specialolympics.ie/GETINVOLVED.aspx ).    Eircom has been a stalwart sponsor and, like all sponsors, it is determined to continue its support.  I know this is really appreciated by Matt and his team, particularly in these tough economic times.

So best of luck to the participants in the competitions ahead: I am sure they, their family members, supporters and Special Olympics Ireland will leave with wonderful memories.

Have a great weekend,

Best wishes,

Eamonn

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Irish Korean North South Lesson Sharing

In Korea, a much discussed example of unification was and remains the “Berlin” model.  As one scenario and a contingency, it has generated a lot of discussion, comparison and analysis amongst Korean academics, officials and commentators. The Irish model, alternatively, is based on the premise of two jurisdictions continuing to exist until there is agreement otherwise, recognizing each other’s legitimacy and aspirations, and agreeing to formal intergovernmental North South structures working on a programme of cooperation.  The message below summarizes the visit of the delegation from the North South Ministerial Council.  Subsequently, the German Ambassador, HE Rolf Mafael, and I made a joint presentation of both models to the Asia Society of Korea.

Ambassador’s Message – North South Lesson Sharing

23 October 2012

As you may have seen in some media coverage, the Embassy hosted a North-South lesson-sharing visit by a delegation from Ireland last week.  This project began in discussions between the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore and the Minister of Unification Yu Woo-ik this time last year.

How to characterise the visit?  I would say stimulating, informative, revealing and affirmative.  Perhaps the most important description is ‘affirmative’ in that the visit affirmed the value of sharing lessons and exchanging views with our Korean counterparts.

This was partly because of commonalities such as our shared colonial history, partition, the generation of conflict and aspirations for unity.  But importantly it was affirmative too for what was not held in common; for example the absence of internationally binding agreements embracing all issues and relationships or of inter-governmental mechanisms for managing escalating tensions and unexpected events or actions.  While the equations of identity are different, exploring our differences helped illuminate the nature of national identity and the nature of aspirations about the future.  The news of the Scottish referendum on independence in 2014 was a useful entry point into these discussions.

The focus of the visit was on the North South Ministerial Council, the work of its Secretariat and the purpose and activities of two of the six specialised North-South bodies established by the Good Friday Agreement.

The delegation comprised Mary Bunting, Northern Ireland Joint Secretary of the North-South Ministerial Council, my colleague Margaret Stanley, Southern Deputy Joint Secretary, Pat Colgan of the Special EU Peace Programmes Body and Thomas Hunter McGowan (CEO) and Aidan Gough (Director for Strategy) of Inter-Trade Ireland.

Our counterparts were senior officials from the Ministry of Unification and members of the Korean Institute for National Unification.  In addition to presentations on their areas of work by the delegation, I gave an introductory presentation on the peace process focusing on intergovernmental cooperation since the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement and the historic settlement of 1998.  At the end of their visit, the delegation briefed a group of interested Ambassadors on their views and impressions of the exercise.

In the question and answer sessions, several themes and topics emerged.  These included approaches to unity and cross-border cooperation; the nature of national identity, territory and consent; negotiations, trust and the role of the US; security; dealing with the past; sustainability of peace building; power-sharing; and mechanisms for intergovernmental cooperation.

Two particular issues of interest garnered much attention.  One was the sheer patience required and the time spans involved – the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985; the Hume-Adams dialogue 1988; the IRA ceasefire 1994; the Good Friday Agreement 1998; decommissioning of paramilitary weapons and the establishment of a stable power-sharing 2007; the first meeting two weeks ago of the North-South inter-parliamentary forum.  The other was the delicate and complex nature of North-South relations that are the heart of the historic settlement of 1998.  For the officials involved in the NSMC Secretariat and the North-South bodies, this is a daily reality given that what are in themselves mundane matters become highly political in the nationalist-unionist force-field.

The delegation visited the DMZ, including observing the crossing into Kaesong, the 3rd tunnel, the Joint Security Area and the observation platform.  I think it is fair to say that they found it both impressive and sad that such mighty infrastructure divided one people.

While all conflicts are different in origin and character, peace-building solutions share many common features; a commitment not to use violence or the threat of violence to influence negotiations; a resilient inter-governmental process that can withstand and manage unexpected events; comprehensive talks under independent chairmanship; agreed outcomes established through binding treaties; supporting input from regional partners and the international community; effective and monitored implementation.

I would like to thank the members of the delegation for their presentations and the candour of their engagement.  Indeed, the joint nature of our delegation itself illustrated how far we have travelled in our own journey to peace and reconciliation.  I would also like to acknowledge the wonderful hospitality of our hosts at the Ministry of Unification and the serious engagement of our interlocutors throughout the visit.  I am very hopeful that this lesson-sharing exchange is just the first of many.

Best wishes,

Eamonn

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Explaining the Euro Crisis

Combining candid appraisals and assurances about Ireland’s recovery has been an predominant occupation for all my colleagues serving abroad since 2008.  For Korea, recent Irish experience resonates given their own ‘IMF crisis’ in 1997.  For a Korean audience though, even an informed one, the EU is something of a puzzle – its rationale and its functioning.  Add in an extra-dimension like the Eurozone and it can get very complicated indeed.  This speech attempted a compressed explanation of the European project, its roots in Western European geopolitics and the role of the Euro, with some insights into the impact of the crisis on Ireland; and finally what all this means for Asia.

The Euro Crisis: the EU, Ireland and Asia

 Sogang National University

Korea Society of Contemporary European Studies

 8 June 2012

I am delighted to be here today at Sogang University.  I want to thank my host Professor. Dr. Hae Jo Chung, President of the Korean Society of Contemporary European Studies for the honor of addressing you.  I wish to commend the Society here for the wonderful work they do in promoting awareness of Europe, and its rich academic and cultural life.

The European Union is a vastly ambitious European project.  The project was born of catastrophic conflict that left Europe devastated in1945.  A deep economic and political process of conflict resolution was called for if Europe was to escape from its recurrent pattern of violent and militaristic competition.

EU Origins

The European project emerged from a long and often tragic European history.  The European Community, now the European Union, was designed to deal with the implications of that history.  In dealing with that history, it has three objectives.

One is to specifically to avoid the history of European conflict repeating itself.  The second is to harness Europe to delivery for its people social and economic progress. The third is to act as a beacon of the rest of the world, promoting ideals in human rights, the rule of law, multilateral cooperation and development assistance.

In my remarks today, I wish to focus on Euro as the symbol of this ideal; the problems it has encountered as exemplified in the case of Ireland; and the likely route to recovery for Ireland, the European Union and of course for Asian economic prospects.

The European Project

For those with a view to the long hand of history, arguably the roots of the European project go back to the Treaty of Verdun, in 843 AD.  The three surviving sons of Louis the Pious, himself son of the founder of the European ideal, Charlemagne, divided the last incarnation of the Roman Empire between them. Charles the Bald becomes King of West Francia.  Louis the German becomes King of East Francia.  Lothair, becomes King of Middle Francia, also known as Lotharingia. West Francia become France.  East Francia becomes the Holy Roman Empire and one thousand years later, Germany.  Lotharingia is too disparate to survive and it becomes a plintered zone of local ambitions and conflict, eventually resolving into Holland, Switzerland and Northern Italy, with smaller parts splitting and adhering variously to France and German principalities.  The open planes of Belgium and north eastern France would become, in the classic description, the checkboard of history, including such famous engagements as Waterloo in 1815 and Verdun in 1916.

We have here the roots of the great dialectic between France and Germany that defines modern Western European history once Spanish power declines at the beginning of the modern age.  France centralizes early and becomes the dominant European power in the 18th and early 19th century.  The shock of Napoleon’s success propels Prussia under Count Bismarck to form modern Germany in 1871.  The competition between France and Germany for supremacy in Western Europe, the industrialization of military power, the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires combined to produce the battlefield cataclysm of WWI and later the continental wide devastation of WWII.  Britain played the game to ensure no one great continental power emerged as a global rival, supporting Napoleon’s enemies just as it had Spain’s during its earlier rise, and later allying with France against the Kaiser.

After the catastrophe of WWII, European leaders knew they had to convert that dialectic from competition and war to cooperation and prosperity.  They achieved that by creating the European project, the outcome of which was to be a supra-national entity, part customs union, part common market, part political federation.  Between the Treaty of Rome in 1957 and the Lisbon Treaty of 2009, the EU took shape.  In the intervening decades, the European project brought not only peace but also unprecedented prosperity to its members.

Ireland shared in that success rapidly developing socially and economically.  Irish success was and is being driven by three factors: international Foreign Direct Investment; the attractions of doing business in Ireland; and access to the 500 million strong EU market.  From these ingredients, the Celtic Tiger of the 1990s was born.

Celtic Tiger

By the 1990s, the Irish economy had begun to accelerate, based on high inward investment, competitive exports and one of the top ranked business-friendly environments in the world.  In first half of the 1990s, GDP expanded by 6% per annum on average.  By 1995, it had reached double digits.  Unemployment plummeted from 16 per cent in1994 to 4 per cent in 2000 – essentially full employment for the first time in modern Irish history. Our workforce doubled to 2 million. Involuntary emigration, a fact of life for the previous 150 years, came to an end.  Our economic growth was driven by an educated workforce producing high value exports at competitive costs in a low tax business regime.  These economic fundamentals made the Celtic Tiger roar.

The Impact of the Euro

The Euro currency was created in 1999, the capstone of the European project and the most potent symbol of European unity.  Technically a monetary union, it was in essence a political commitment to the European ideal.  The impact of the Euro on Ireland was immediate and dramatic.  As a proportion of Gross National Product, private credit ballooned: in 1999 it was 110%; by 2004, 145% (€190bn); 2006, 200% (€305bn); 2008, 250% (€400bn).  Irish personal and mortgage debt doubled between 2004 and 2008.

Property Boom

The creation of the Euro facilitated the transfer of credit from within the core of the Euro zone (essentially France and Germany) to its “periphery”.  This was not only the natural outcome of classical economics whereby capital flows to higher marginal rates of return.  It was in a sense a privatization of the EU ideal of regional cohesion, the economic convergence of economic standards through the free movement of goods, capital and people.

The critical issue was whether the movement of capital represented prudent investment rather than a willfully blind and imprudent chase after higher margins of return.  The convenient and unexamined assumption that the Euro was governed by Eurozone joint-and-several liability meant that banks assumed zero risk in regard to their loans either to other banks or to other governments.  This assumption of zero risk would do great damage to the European banking sector.  Combined with financial deregulation, proprietorial and shadow banking, historically low interest rates and shareholder pressure, the Euro generated an unprecedented credit boom and expansion of banking exposure.

The Euro credit boom had a dramatic impact on property prices in Ireland.  They grew seven times faster than the consumer price index: This in a country where population density is one of the lowest in Western Europe and almost ten times less than in Korea.  As one commentator noted, “by 2007, Ireland was building half as many houses as Britain, which has 14 times its population.”  The building boom did not dampen house prices.  In 1994, the average house price was €74,000.  In 2007, it was €323,000.

Using cheap Euros pushed by aggressive lending practices on the part of banks in Ireland, France and Germany, the Irish started to buy Ireland from themselves, as one commentator pithily put it.  Average 2nd hand house price in Dublin went from 4 times to 17 times average industrial wage.  Bank loan books grew from 60% (1997) to 200% of GNP (2008).

Morgan Kelly, one of the few economists to warn of a crash, noted that “Irish banks were lending 40% more in real terms to property developers alone in 2008 than they had been lending to everyone in Ireland in 2000, and 75% more to house buyers”.  If up to the year 2000, Irish growth was export-led, thereafter cheap Euros, a flood of liquidity, property price inflation, a credit explosion, and a construction boom drove it.

Crash

We now know that neither financial markets nor the deregulated banking sector efficiently allocate capital resources.  Their purpose rather is to increase margins and profits.  They can be in fact intrinsically corrupt, as revealed by the well-documented use and abuse of collateralised debt obligations.  More to the point, in generating a credit/property boom in the US particularly, they created the inevitable crash in the financial and banking system, with global affects.

Impact on Ireland

The first question in 2008 was whether our banks faced a liquidity crisis or were insolvent.  Initially, the assumption was the former.  At any rate, a banking collapse in Ireland would have a contagious effect on their creditors, mainly banks in France and Germany that had funnelled cheap Euros to Ireland.  The Government decided in September 2008 to guarantee bank debts, converting private debt into public debt held by the Government on the basis that the problem was illiquidity.

However, the collapse in the property market – and with the value of assets held against liabilities – meant in effect that the banks were insolvent and needed recapitalisation.  A converse measure of the property boom is the fall is house prices; from the peak of 2006 to today by around 50%.  So far, Ireland has injected or committed €62bn into Irish banking, equivalent to about 40% of GDP

With the onset of the 2008 crisis, bond markets decided to disaggregate Eurozone risk.  Bond yields for Ireland, Greece and Portugal went over 7%, beyond national sustainability.  By 2010, Ireland could no longer afford the yields demanded in the sovereign bond market.  Ireland needed and received a four-year programme of support from the ECB, European Commission and IMF amounting to over €60bn.

Response

In response to this crisis, the Government took dramatic action: the establishment of the National Assets Management Agency to assume under-performing loans from the banking sector; a fundamental reform of the banking sector, reducing it to two pillars, both reduced to sizes appropriate to our GDP; reduction of between 15% and 20% in the public sector wage bill; reduction in public expenditure of €15bn; creation of an Irish Fiscal Advisory Council; aggressive action to achieve a deficit target of 3% of GDP by 2015.

Recovery

70% of the consolidation necessary to reduce the deficit to below 3% of GDP has already been implemented.  Reduction in the underlying deficit to 9.4% of GDP last year – a level well within the limit set under the terms of the EU/IMF Programme.  The Government is committed to reducing the deficit further – the deficit limit set for this year is 8.6% of GDP and the latest data shows we are on track to achieve this target.  Consolidation implemented this year amounts to €3.8 billion (circa. 2½% of GDP), with roughly 60% of this is on the expenditure side.

Stabilising the debt-to-GDP ratio is crucial: we estimate that the debt ratio will peak at 120% in 2013.  We have achieved six of the quarterly targets set by the EU/IMF Programme in a row since the Programme began in late 2010. The economy returned to growth last year. GDP increased by 0.7% in 2011 – the first year of growth since 2007, with the exporting sectors are leading the recovery.  Exports increased by 4.1% in 2011 and are now above pre-crisis levels.

The export-led recovery means the balance of payments remains in (a small) surplus. We won a record number of new inward investments in 2011.There has been a substantial improvement in relative labour costs. Our inflation rate remains low, just over 2%. In short, we are trading our way to recovery.  Domestic demand remains subdued; households are running down high debts accumulated during the boom and precautionary savings remain high in a very uncertain environment. The outlook is for a second successive year of positive growth. GDP growth of 0.7% is forecast for this year and jumping to 2.2% next year as domestic demand expands and a stabilized banking sector resumes credit.  Unemployment will stabilize at 14.3% this year and begin to fall thereafter.

Medium Term Prospects

Medium-term growth potential is strong, with a flexible, adaptable economy (e.g. wage reductions), pro-enterprise environment (e.g. ease of doing business amongst best in world), high levels of education, very favourable demographics (the highest fertility rate in the EU) and further structural reforms to boost growth potential.  Medium-term forecast is for GDP growth of 3% per annum.

We will achieve our deficit of 3% by 2015. We will retain our exceptionally low 12.5% tax on all trading profits. We have a strong RnD base, encouraged by a 25% tax rebate and strong intellectual property regime. We have grants/facilities assistance for new investors, with a highly education, low cost and flexible workforce.We are highly open, globalised and business friendly, featuring in the top ranks of global indicators.  Intel, Facebook, Google, Coca-cola, IBM, Microsoft, Pfizer, Boston Scientific, Merck all have operations in Ireland.

In Ireland we have inpharmaceuticals 8 out of top 10 global companies; in technology – 8 of top 10; software – we are the largest global exporter; services – half of top financial services companies; medical devices – 15 of top 25 companies.

Context is Key

Given Ireland’s export orientation and open highly globalised economy, the international economic and financial context is a key factor. The policy of austerity required in Ireland to get us back on track is now accepted policy in the Eurozone.  Stable public finances and restoration of the banking sector are essential conditions for sustainable economic growth. The Fiscal Compact, an agreement on national budgets by all signatories, will underpin Eurozone stability.  The Irish public gave their assent to its ratification last week.

Fiscal Compact

The Fiscal Compact is formally titled the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union. The aim of the Treaty is to ensure that euro stability and better governance and coordination. The  key elements of the Stability Treaty are: balanced budget rule in national law; 3% of GDP with 0.5% structural; national debt to 60% of GDP; any gap to be close by 1/20th per anum; stricter excessive deficit procedure for breaches of the revised Stability and Growth Pact; new elements of Eurozone governance, primarily mandated Eurozone Summits and a Eurozone President; and restricted access to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) to those countries which have ratified the Treaty.

Impact of Austerity

All that accepted, the limitations on austerity are recognised.  Eurozone unemployment is at record levels at almost 11%, the highest it has been since the Euro’s creation.  This means some 17.4 million out of work: France – 9.3%;

Spain a whopping 24% or, if you are under 25, it is 50%; Greece – 21%; Italy and Poland – 10%. Even in Germany, unemployment rose to 2.88 million or 5.6%.

The fear is that you may have a cascade effect within the EU; unemployment suppressing growth, jeopardising private credit and mortgage viability with know-on effects on property values and banking, leading to restricted credit, further crimping of growth and more unemployment.

The global trading environment currently operates in a context of uncertainty, faltering demand and sluggish growth.  This will hamper the EU’s recovery and have a knock-on effect on the economic performance of both the US and Asia. The equation is simple; growth in excess of interest rates reduces the debt burden. Growth depends on demand that in turn depends on confidence.

So the emerging consensus in Europe is that while we need to get our fiscal books in order, we need too a strategy to promote growth, or what is termed a “growth compact”.    It needs to be targeted at what is likely to drive growth – a focus on education, research and development, the commercialisation of innovation, labour market supply, key infrastructural needs (including green growth) and adaptability and competitiveness.

Key Issue

As you are aware, the key issue facing the Eurozone today is confidence in the banking sector.  The focus has moved from Greece to Spain.  The underlying issue in Spain is the same that affected Ireland: namely bank lending practices, fuelled by the Euro, that now jeopardise bank solvency.   We in Ireland are painfully aware that there are limits to the capacity of the State to recapitalise systemic banks.  How can the Eurozone agree a solution to this problem; how, in other words, to create instruments to stabilize banks that do not jeopardize State solvency.  We have arrived at the nub of the issue.

Where to from here?

The question is where to from here for the Eurozone?  A number of features have been suggested as vital.  Continued ECB liquidity; the injection of €1trillion between December and January/February had an immediate effect in stabilizing both banks and sovereign bond markets.  That needs to be continued, including for short-term liquidity. Continued low interest rates; Eurozone inflation is 2.8%, lower than the EU at 3%.  The ECB has just announced that it will stick with 1%, with a future cut possible.  Some form of joint approach to the debt/banking issue: it will not be US-style fiscal federation but I suspect a little will go a long way in resurrecting confidence in the Euro as a shared currency that is here to stay.  A shared currency means also fiscal consolidation – the Fiscal Compact is a start in the long process of the Eurozone members converging toward fiscal probity.

What does this mean for Asia?

The EU has been good for Asia.  Last year the EU exported €330bn work of goods and services to Asia.  It imported €532bn worth from Asia.  The Asian share of EU imports is today almost 32%.  The Asian share of EU exports is almost 22%.  The EU has been good for Korea too.  The EU now ranks as Korea’s third most important trading partner, after China and Japan and ahead of the US.

The EU is Korea’s fourth most important import partner and its second most important export partner, after China. This is not just a strong trading relationship for Asia and Korea.  It is a now a vital economic one.  Indeed, we can see movements in the KOSPI directly affected by assessments about the Euro crisis and its resolution. The Korea-EU FTA has greatly strengthened that relationship.  There has been a high high utilization rate with 66% of Korean exporters 48% of EU exporters availing of the FTA provisions.  Businesses have been prompt on both sides to seize the market opportunities created by the FTA, which is very positive.

The FTA ensures that our trading relationship will continue to prosper over time.  Already we have seen it positively affect the overall EU export performance here and significantly improve the export performance of several Korean sectors. The recovery of the EU as an economy, therefore, is critically important to the prospects for growth in Asia and in Korea.

Conclusion

Since the C9th, the relationship between France and Germany has determined European destiny.  This has proven to be catastrophic when pursued solely as a contest between competing national interests.  When pursued cooperative as in the European project, it has been enormously beneficial.

The European project has been extraordinarily successful.  Under it, across a wide spectrum of issues, French and German leaders found an extraordinary degree of policy convergence – on market integration, common standards, institutional develoopment, law, the Common Agricultural Policy, Cohesion Funds and monetary union. Because of the European project, since WWII Europe has enjoyed peace, stability, prosperity, integration, regional cohesion, food security, internal capital and labour mobility, and enhanced status internationally.

The Euro itself was and remains the key manifestation of the European project and the European ideal.  As a shared currency, it has hugely facilitated the free movement of people, goods and capital that lies at the heart of the European project.  It yielded an unprecedented period in European prosperity.  And it quickly became a major global currency, heavily invested in by both private and public capital.  Whatever stresses and strains it may suffer, it is underpinned by the commitment of all EU members to ensure that it survives and prospers, that the current Euro crisis is a transitionary phase that will be superseded by enhanced coherence, mutual support and improved governance within the Eurozone. The Euro and the European ideal are as inseparable as the joint and several recoveries of the EU economies.

Thank you.

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A Visit to the DPRK

Ireland established diplomatic relations with North Korea in January 2004 during the rapprochement between the RoK and DPRK under the Sunshine Policy.  Ireland’s main engagement with the DPRK is the provision of funding by Irish Aid: reviewing the programmes run by the World Food Programme and Irish NGO Concern there forms a key part of visits by the Embassy.  After meetings with DPRK officials, we have a chance to travel outside of Pyongyang.  Getting to Pyongyang is not easy: diplomats cannot cross the border at the DMZ so we have to fly to Beijing and then catch a plane to Pyongyang.  Support by Irish Aid continues this year (2013) with a direct contribution to the WFP of €250,000, in addition to funding to Concern and to Emergency Funds like the UN’s CERF which the WFP accesses.

Ambassador’s Message – DPRK Visit

25 May 2012

I thought you might be interested in my visit last week to the DPRK to which I am accredited as Ambassador.  My wife Mary accompanied me.   Pyongyang, the capital and showcase city, looked well in the May sunshine, manicured and spruced up with particular attention because of the 15th April centennial celebration of the birth of Kim Il-sung.  There were plenty of cars in evidence, a bustle about the streets adjacent to our hotel, mobile phones in use and fashionable accessories to be seen.

 We were particularly interested to get outside the city to see the countryside immediately to the north and to the south of the capital and we able to do so thanks to the World Food Programme (WFP) and our own NGO, Concern, which is operating EU programmes there.

 WFP

To reach the WFP project, we drove north from Pyongyang to Phyongsong city.  The fields were busy with people actively planting rice or tilling fields.  Despite intensive cultivation and the hard work of the people, however, the food gap remains around one million metric tons of cereals each year.

The WFP programme in Phyongsong city, the capital of South Pyongan Province (pop. 4 million) centers on creating a food mixture rich in essential micronutrients and proteins.  It targets the most vulnerable and is distributed to orphanages (baby homes, child centers, boarding schools), hospitals, nurseries, kindergartens.  The WFP operates in 12 of the 21 counties in South Pyongan Province (and some 114 countries overall in the DPRK).  Between April 2011 and May of this year, the WFP provided 1,531 metric tons of food aid to 43,904 beneficiaries in Phyongsong city, mainly to nurseries, pregnant/lactating mothers, kindergartens and primary schools.  Its milk, cereal, corn, soy and rice blends help prevent permanent physical and intellectual damage due to chronic malnutrition (the stunting rate is about 32% nationally).

Because of the relatively better harvest in 2011, the current Emergency Programme will probably be replaced by a Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation in July 2012, with somewhat reduced coverage from 3.5 million vulnerable recipients to in the region of 2.5 million people.

The WFP expressed its appreciation for Ireland’s contribution last year to its programme in the DPRK of $3.6m.  This included a direct contribution of $356,125 by Irish Aid that was used to procure 770 metric tons of wheat.  The WFP DPRK programme also received multilateral funding of $3,252,800 from Ireland that was used to purchase vegetable oil, sugar and dried skimmed milk, key ingredients in the blended foods.

 Our first stop was Phyongsong Paediatric Hospital.  Young patients there were being treated for water-borne gastric problems which are prevalent (the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF, de-worms all the children twice a year in the 118 counties they cover).  International agencies, notably the WHO and UNICEF, provide medicines for about 10m of the total population of 24m. 

 Our next stop was at an orphanage for toddlers, ranked along two long balconies in the courtyard wearing identical pink pyjamas and waving excitedly as we arrived (shouting the Korean equivalent of Daddy! Daddy!)  Joyful and curious, they were particularly excited to be shown their photos on our camera’s LCD screen.  They receive daily the enriched WFP food that ensures essential nutrients for the crucial first years of life.

Our final stop was at the Cereal Milk factory where WFP supplies are mixed and bagged for distribution in an operation that was clean, busy and currently well stocked.

The WFP is confident that monitoring arrangements are effective. The official with us said that they had come not encountered examples of diversion and believe that the system operates with admirable integrity. UN officials and NGO regularly made the point to us that the DPRK operates extremely efficiently administratively, with high levels of commitment to tasks at hand, done with honesty and lack of theft.

Concern

Where the WFP (and WHO and UNICEF) provide emergency and relief programmes, the EU focus since 2006 is on addressing the structural issues causing the food gap under its Food Security Thematic Programme, specifically its “Linking Relief, Rehabilitation and Development”.  The DPRK budget for 2011-2013 is €20m.  The Irish NGO Concern manages integrated food and sustainable agricultural programmes, irrigation infrastructure projects, crop rotations, soil erosion mitigation techniques on sloping agriculture, and green house horticulture for winter production. 

Accompanied by Concern staff including an Irish national, we travelled through the traditional breadbasket south of Pyongyang to Singye.  Richly coloured red clays, verdant hills and clear blue skies combined to produce a beautiful landscape, dotted with small hamlets untouched, it seemed, by time.  Timeless too was the sight of plentiful colourfully dressed workers in the fields, carts drawn by cattle and curious, watchful locals. 

Concern operates the EU programme in Singye and associated projects in farms in and around the District.  It is an integrated operation designed to provide locally manufactured nutritious food for children and effective water and sanitation systems to end the scourge of water-borne diseases.  Pasteurized soymilk, tofu and protein rich maze noodles are produced using Chinese machinery in an operation run by locals under the leadership of the redoubtable Deputy Chairman of the District Committee, and her elderly though indomitable assistant, the kind of strong Korean women we are all familiar with down in the South.

We visited a cooperative farm, located off-road and across a broad river, that has a goat herd of some 700 whose milk is pasteurised for distribution or made into yoghurt.  Cellars are in construction to store cheese.  The farm manager is pioneering and open to new ideas, we were told.  There is a major push on by the international agencies to promote conservation agriculture, an approach that avoids ploughing altogether and thereby preserving nutrients, limiting erosion and improving yields.  A field at this farm is the first experiment with this new technique.  (Brazil is the leader in conservation agriculture and the exporter of the best planting devices.)  If successful, it will relieve rural populations of the time and energy consumed ploughing.

Our Irish national guide is coming to the end of his five-year stint in the DPRK.  He is resolutely optimistic in character and paid tribute to the ordinary Koreans he worked with as extremely kind, hospitable, hardworking and honest.  Aside from those fond memories, he recalled the magnificent scenery amidst the spectacular mountains as one travelled north.

 It is a challenging working environment but the effectiveness of comprehensive national and local administration means that goals can be achieved in the DPRK that would simply be inconceivable in many other countries receiving international aid.  A WHO official told me, in astonishment, that the inoculation (using internationally donated supplies) of the whole population between the ages of 1 and 4 years of age was achieved in two weeks.  There is no doubt that the UN agencies, NGOs and EU Special Programmes are achieving their intended goals, and meeting real needs in terms of nutrition and health for vulnerable groups. 

Concern kindly hosted a small reception for us and we had the opportunity to meet a range of people working with UN agencies and NGOs in North Korea, as well as a number of diplomats.  I paid tribute to their work and the often trying conditions of life that they subject themselves to when working to alleviate suffering in the world.  I was proud to note that even though Ireland faced considerable economic and fiscal challenges, our Irish Aid programme continued to enjoy widespread and strong public support at home.  

Best wishes, 

Eamonn

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Early Irish Connections with Korea

Bilateral relations are not just quotidian affairs but are shaped by history.  In many cases, that history is well known so Irish public diplomacy can build on that.  Our relations with the United States is perhaps the most obvious example.  In other cases, historical connections are less well known, even forgotten.  Irish Korean relations are a case in point.  If our historical connections are thin threads, they are nonetheless fascinating stories about the global Irish in times past and the sometimes bizarre coincidences between past and present. The unfolding story of Charles Morris told below could not have happened without the internet which demonstrates what a powerful tool it is in guiding us through the labyrinth of personal histories.  Uncovering and recovering that history not only helps strengthen Irish Korean bilateral relations but adds new mosaics from unlikely places to the picture of Ireland’s Diaspora.

Ambassador’s Message – Colonel McKee and Missionary Charles Morris in Korea

22 May 2012

As you might know, we at the Embassy launched a living history of Irish Korean links on our website.  We compiled what we knew into a narrative and invited anyone and everyone to submit additions.  We have so far managed to push back the date of Ireland’s first engagement with Korea: a distant forebear of mine, Col. Hugh McKee, on the USS Colorado, in Korea as part of a raiding party in 1871.   He led a group, which included four Irish born men, the first to reach Korea as far as we know (very regrettably from an Irish diplomatic point of view!)   They attacked a garrison on Gangwha island, near Seoul, and it seems that Pat Dougherty from Ireland killed General Yeo in the process.  Col. McKee died from wounds sustained in the raid and the Irish born US Marines won Medals of Honour. 

Incidentally, a Korean historian told me that some twenty-five years ago a descendent of Col. McKee visited the monument to General Yeo and met the General’s descendents there, so reconciliation was achieved.  We are needless to say hoping to find an Irish person who got to Korea before them with more peaceful intentions!

Another fascinating Irish connection has recently surfaced.  The following is something of a detective story, pursued by Frank O’Donoghue, whom some of you may recall was Deputy Head of Mission here up until last year and the new Deputy Head of Mission, Ruth Parkin.  I want to thank Frank for his dogged research on Irish Korean relations, despite finishing his posting here. 

The story has thrown up some extraordinary coincidences.  Frank had thought that Charles Morris, an Irish born missionary active in Korea from 1901 until his death in 1927, may have been born Church of Ireland but could not find a registration of his birth in either the Anglican or Methodist churches of Portlaoise, Ireland. Out of the blue, a granddaughter of Morris, Ms Janet Downing, contacted the Embassy because she saw the reference on the Embassy website.  She provided us with her detailed and fascinating contribution.  When Ruth mentioned the story of a Methodist who died in Korea but was born in Laois to her parents (her father is a Methodist minister), her mother immediately suggested Ballyhupahaun as a possible location for Charles Morris’s birth without any knowledge of the context.

Our serendipitous team of detectives have given permission for me to publish their exchanges below, for which thanks.

As you will see, the story is a wonderful series of human and historical connections, linking Huguenot settlement in Ireland in the 18th century; the conversion of an Irish Huguenot to Methodism by the founder of Methodism John Wesley during the latter’s last of many trips to Ireland (some twenty-one between 1747 and 1789);  Irish emigration to American; American missionary work in Korea; and Irish American genealogical research in Ireland which yielded yet another amazing coincidence involving an old post card. 

We have put obituaries of Charles Morris on the Embassy website which give an indication of the esteem in which he was held in Korea.  It is also clear that his wife was a heroic missionary too, staying in Korea for another thirteen years after his death in 1927.

 I hope you enjoy the story.

Best wishes, 

Eamonn

Extract from Frank’s email, December 2011

“In the spring of 2011, along with a fellow country man and Anglican priest, we stumbled upon the above-mentioned Irish born but US reared and educated Methodist missionary in Korea from 1901 to 18 January 1927.”
 
“The Reverend Charles David Morris is buried in the Yangwhajin or Foreigners’ Graveyard in Seoul, South Korea(Republic of Korea). On the steel stake beside his gravestone there is biography in which it is stated that Charles David Morris graduated from Drew Theological Seminary in 1900 and ministered as far north as Pyongyang and places between there and Seoul such as Incheon.  It was also stated that he was of French Huguenot origin. My own surmise is that Charles David Morris was Church of Ireland (Anglican/Episcopal) when in Ireland as a community of Huguenot descendants worshiped in French in Portarlington, County Laois ( then Queens County) until about 1869 but that his family joined the Methodist Church after they settled in the USA.”

 

Extract from Frances Bristol, General Commission on Archives and History,
The United Methodist Church,
New Jersey, USA, January 2012

“Dear Mr. O’Donoghue,

Thank you for your request.  There is quite a bit of information available at this location on Rev. Morris, but, unfortunately, no mention of the names of his parents.  Attached to this message please find extracts from the Mission Biographical Reference file on Rev. Morris.  Also included is an extract from the Alumni Record of Drew Theological Seminary related to Rev. Morris.”

 

Extract from Frank’s email to myself and Ruth, May 2012

“Ambassador, Ruth,

This is some research provided me by the United Methodist Church concerning one Charles David Morris. I have found from the attached that he was born in 1869 in a place called Ballyhupahun, Queen’s County (now County Laois). The current spelling is Ballyhuppahaun, Roseanallis, County Laois close to Portlaoise.  I went to school in Ballyfin nearby (1968-1971) and some of the locals said to me at that time that ‘Roseanallis’ was so called by a local Quaker landowner who had three daughters Rose Ann and Alice!

What is unclear is if Charles David Morris was born into the Church of Ireland given his Huguenot background but most of that community were closer to Portarlington where services were conducted in French within Church of Ireland until, curiously, the year of his birth. There is (was) a Methodist Church in Portlaoise (then called Maryborough) but in the days of the horse and cart the Morris birthplace would have been quite a distance to travel each Sunday. It is possible the Morris family worshipped closer to home perhaps in Mountmellick or Mountrath where there would have been long established Anglican/ Church of Ireland and Society of Friends(Quaker) communities/congregations.”

Extract from Janet Downing to Ruth, granddaughter of Charles Morris, 3 May 2012

“I was absolutely thrilled to find my grandfather, Charles David Morris, listed on your Embassy of Ireland website.  One little correction, I would like to make is that his parents did not emigrate to the US.  ‘Since both of his parents were deceased, he emigrated in 1888 at age 19 to the United States…’

 He was an amazing man and I wish that I had known him, but it is wonderful to see him remembered on your website.”

Reply from Ruth, 4 May 2012

“We are in the process of developing a project on Irish links with Korea and would be interested in any further information you may be willing to share. Frank was unable to find a record of his birth but thought that perhaps he had been raised Anglican before converting to Methodism on or before travelling to the US. We really have little other than in that short paragraph so anything you know will be extra. Obviously it seems he married and had children – in Korea?”

Email Response from Ms Downing, 4 May 2012

“I am just thrilled to hear from you! I have quite a bit about Charles Morris because my mother and her sister were both born in Yeng Byen.  My mother went back to Ireland with her parents in 1925 and so learned quite a bit and although very young, remembered it because he died in 1927.”  

“I will go through my documents, but off the top of my head – the Maurices were Huguenots who built Water Castle near Abbeyleix.   I only have them back to a James Maurice and Muriel Tarlton from the 1700’s, who are buried at the Old Church on the De Vesci Estate.  Their son John Maurice is said to have been converted by John Wesley in the old church at Maryborough in 1789.  His son, John Maurice married Hannah Knight and got a farm at Ballyhupahaun.  His son James stayed on the farm and anglicized the name to Morris and was Charles’ father.  Charles always said that if he had sons, if would have changed the name back to Maurice “to remind us of our noble ancestors who left the land of their birth rather than give up their faith.”  Charles was born in Ballyhupahaun. There is also a small Methodist Church in Ballyhupahaun which was built in 1848, but has an old stone inside which says AD 1795 – it appears that there had been a Methodist Church in that area since very soon after John Wesley was in Ireland.”

“I am very much into genealogy and have been trying to find out as much about my Irish ancestors since I did not know this special man.”

“My grandmother Louise Ogilvy grew up in Topeka, Kansas in the US and when she was 18, missionaries came through looking for a teacher for the school age children of the missionaries in Pyongyang.  Although so young, they could not find anyone and so she went to Korea in 1901 and there met Charles David Morris.  She married him in 1903 in Kobe, Japan.  They were in Yeng Byen 1905 – 1912, then Pyongyang until 1916, when they went to Wonju until he died.  He itinerated all over and started many churches and schools.” 

“I went to Ireland with my mother in 1988 – one hundred years after Charles had left.  We found the farm in Ballyhupahaun and met the man who bought it after Charles’ brother, Robert, died in 1950.  I said I was the granddaughter of Charles Morris and he said “Robert had a brother who went across the seas to preach.”  Just amazing after 100 years!  Then I went to a house near to the Methodist Church and met Olive Graham.  When I said I was the granddaughter of Charles Morris, she turned pale and said to a granddaughter, “bring that card we were looking at last night.”  It was a postcard from Charles to her mother in 1900 when he was on his way to Korea.  She knew her mother was a cousin, but I have still not quite made that connection, although Olive did not think it was important.  She had cared for Charles’ brother, Robert, until he died.  She was just so kind to me and had me all over the county and Dublin meeting “cousins.”  What a magical time it was.”

“My grandparents gave their lives to their work in Korea and loved the Korean people, but with so much of their time in “North Korea” one wonders about their contribution.  But it appears that they were truly loved when they were there.  My grandmother stayed on in Seoul until 1940, when she was forced to leave [with all the other missionaries], and she died a year later.  (I knew neither of my grandparents – they were both gone before I was born.)  Actually, my mother went back to Korea in 1934 after she graduated from college, having difficulty finding a job.  The superintendent of the Oriental Consolidated Mining Company had loved her father and offered her a job teaching.  My father had been going to Colorado School of Mines and got pneumonia.  He saw an ad in the papers for supervisors needed in the gold mines of Korea and thought that sounded much more exciting than going back to school.  So both my parents and grandparents fell in love and married in Korea.  So although I have never been there – it is certainly a big part of my heritage!”

 

 

ENDS

 

 

 

 

 

 

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