‘Koreans love the Irish, we just aren’t that employable’ – Irish teacher rejected by S. Korea school

‘Koreans love the Irish, we just aren’t that employable’ – Irish teacher rejected by S. Korea school
One Irish woman got something of a shock when a South Korean employment agency said they wouldn't take her on as an English teacher because of, quote - ' the alcoholic nature of her people'. She tells RT about the issues with being Irish in Seoul.

Katie Mulrennan spoke to RT live from Seoul about difficulties she’s faced with being Irish in a world that holds her nation in high esteem for its pubs – rather than its intellectual capabilities. “They prefer North American people,” she said.

READ MORE:Irish teacher rejected for South Korea job because of ‘alcoholism’ of her ‘kind’

RT:So tell us what happened?

KM: I’ve really enjoyed my time here – I’ve had snippets of insults at the Irish so I think – as a nation – we’re kind of used to it. So, even though this was in a league of its own – this email – it’s not put me off. I’m going back to Ireland – there’s not much opportunity there so I’m just going to go with the flow here and just keep working and travelling while I can and just experiencing this lovely country and wonderful culture. So as frustrating as it was receiving this – right now, on reflection, I can see the hilarity of it all – especially the feedback and exposure it’s getting in Ireland and around the world – it’s incredible.

So, back at the end of October I was job searching – I had just finished my year contract in a different district in Seoul. My initial plan was to go back to Ireland but I decided to stay another year, just to experience a little more and travel a little more. So, I applied for this position on Craigslist. The school details – like a lot of positions on Craigslist – were kept anonymous – we were just given the details of the school and the benefits that you would receive. So I forwarded them my email – my resume – having two years experience here and having a management degree, I assumed that I would receive the position or at least have a face-to-face interview. And it wasn’t to be. I received an email the next day with those words that were written…so yeah.

RT:And how did you respond when you found out?

KM:It was very frustrating at the time. I was quite stressed – in between jobs, trying to find work. And it’s currently in the middle of the semester here in Korea, so it’s difficult enough to find jobs, and being from Ireland – they don’t particularly want to hire Irish people because – it’s not what they’re hoping for. They prefer North American people –it’s not what they’re hoping for.

I would have liked it if they’d explained themselves a little bit more at least, had met me and reviewed my character before making this assumption and harsh judgment. I mean, In Korea here the Irish stereotype is very much solidified. Former employers I’ve had – they’ve asked me about my drinking habits. Since I’m from Ireland they said – of course, you’re a big drinker aren’t you, but you’ll have to play it down – be very PC here, and say that you don’t drink or that you drink on a rare occasion.

Still from RT video

RT:Had they perhaps had some bad experiences with Irish people previously? Why do you think they had this impression?

KM:The stereotype of the Irish – there are Irish pubs everywhere – in Seoul and all across Korea. That is what we’re known for. It’s very sad. It’s very unfortunate. When I’m introduced to Koreans here – “You’re from Ireland – oh, you like to party, you like to drink!” so, it’s just a shame – it’s very unfair to be rejected in such a harsh manner. I was unemployed for a while in Ireland, after I came back from Abu Dhabi, so that’s why I came out here – and they welcomed me very well in this country, and it’s just a shame to be rejected so harshly, having so much experience and having good qualifications – so I think they really need to look beyond the stereotype and really try to – you know – open their minds and open their horizons to other cultures and other expats, and not just focus on north American teachers here – who they hold on such a pedestal.

The Korean people love the Irish here – we just aren’t that employable – especially in Seoul, when they have such a massive amount of expats – in particular from North America. They just don’t want to choose the Irish. I think we’re just seen as unreliable. I think maybe other employers – possibly – as you said, have had bad experiences. I myself don’t drink during the week – I’m very professional in my work, so I just think it’s laughable…

RT:You've been inundated with job offers from around the world since your rejection e-mail went viral, has that made you feel better?

KM:I have – it’s crazy! Really crazy – I’ve been getting so many messages on Facebook – first from many, many Koreans apologizing – and I quote: “I want to apologize on behalf on my country, we all don’t think like that. I’m sorry that you were so harshly treated in such a rude manner” – it’s crazy. I’ve gotten emails from Hong Kong, from China, Taiwan, Saipan, America, Russia, Middle East – “Come to our country, we will employ you!”. I even got a message from a guy in Oxford – he said “please come to Oxford so I can test how much of an alcoholic you are”.

It’s funny – it’s great that the world is laughing about it, even though there’s a shock factor to it. You have to laugh in these circumstances. There’s no point in getting a plane home back to Ireland and crying in the corner, and just being miserable about the experience – it’s onwards and upwards.