People want to know where you’re from (if the accent doesn’t give it away), your age, your family and all the usual stuff.
However, the one thing we go to great lengths to emphasize is that we are Celtic supporters – proud and faithful, through and through. God forbid we could be mistaken for a R*ngers fan.
For most of us, family, Celtic, Irn Bru and square sausage are things that we miss most – the ordering will vary depending on the individual.
Not seeing games and missing the banter and debate is particularly rough but in the internet age it’s not the hardship it was years ago.
Mind you, dodgy streams and even dodgier reporting from Scottish ‘journalists’ mean watching and following Celtic from afar can still be very much hit and miss.
Having lived in Korea on and off for the past 11 years, my attempts to see games and spread the Celtic gospel wasn’t entirely successful.
However, my ‘missionary work’ became much easier thanks to Tony Mowbray’s (or was it Peter Lawwell’s) decision to sign the 2009 Young Asian Player of the Year.
Step forward Ki SeungYong – the darling of Korean soccer fans – OK, probably just behind Park JiSung – and one half of FC Seoul’s ‘Double Dragon’ alongside Lee ChungYong (yong is the Korean word for dragon) who has excelled at Bolton.
Ki being 21 and Lee 22 hints at a very good future for the Korean national team.
The signing of Cha DuRi in the summer has also helped but it is undoubtedly Ki that Koreans are more interested in following. Gut instinct was that Cha was signed more to keep Ki company than anything else but he’s done OK and may be a better midfielder than defender.
As a result, Celtic’s profile in Korea has rocketed in the past year. There has been numerous debates about the footballing sense in signing Asian players but that is another topic and hopefully Ki’s recent performances are putting that to bed.
As for the Celtic fans out here, watching the Hoops has become easier. Koreans are fiercely patriotic and follow Park, Lee and Ki, as well as Cha, fervently and SBS Sports has coverage of all league games.
The EPL is still king so as long as the Celtic game doesn’t clash with Man Utd or to a lesser extent Bolton, it will be shown live on TV.
I live in hope that if Park isn’t playing and Ki and Cha are that they show Celtic. If not, the decision then is to search for a dodgy live stream or avoid the result, get the coffee on and watch the game with Korean commentators going mental every time Ki or Cha touch the ball.
Some students have mentioned incidents from recent games that suggest, partly due to my hard work and the games being shown live, interest among Koreans in Celtic is growing.
Korean lipreaders noted, with a great deal of pride, Ki using some industrial Korean language when telling Steven Naismith where to go during a clash in the Old Firm game.
Obviously Naismith would have no idea what was said but Koreans were delighted to see Ki stand up for himself and attempt to introduce Korean to the wider Scottish public.
Less happily, the ‘barking’ directed at Ki and Cha from St. Johnstone fans (I’m guessing a reference to the few specialized restaurants that serve dog meat) has also been in the news and raised the shackles of those patriotic Koreans.
The time difference still makes it difficult to get involved on forums and debates in real time but for Celtic fans wanting to see games out here, having Ki and/or Cha in a successful Celtic team means we’ll have one less thing to worry about. Just need to sort out the shipments of Irn Bru and square sausage.