15 December 2014 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By David Keelaghan

Family and friends of James Finnegan have reacted with shock to the tragic news of his death this past Sunday, December 7th in the city of Gwangju, South Korea. From Tiravera, Glaslough, his death occurred shortly after 11:53 pm Korean time after he was struck by a taxi while attempting to cross the road close to his home in Gwangju. He was 27 years old.

James had been working in the Southwestern Korean city since February of this year as an English Second Language teacher. Teaching kindergarten and elementary age students at Haba Liffe Language School, James was loved by his students and co-workers alike for his infectious enthusiasm and fun-loving nature.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is currently in the process of making arrangements for the repatriation of James’ remains.

A former student of both St. Mary’s Boys National School and St. Macartan’s College in Monaghan town, James received his diploma in Graphic Design from the Letterkenny Institute for Technology in 2008 and was well-known among his peers for his talents as an illustrator.

A creative spirit, James also loved music and literature, and was planning on moving to the South Korean capital of Seoul in the new year to pursue his artistic goals. Mason Black from the United States also works as an ESL teacher in Gwangju and remembers James fondly. “We spent a lot of time together in the past few months. I’m glad we met and I’ll never be able to forget the good times we had. I’ll miss swapping stories with him about life growing up in Tennessee and Ireland, discussing music, film and future goals. He wanted a lot out of life. I hate more than anything he won’t get the opportunity to see it through.”

James, known affectionately as “Jabomb” among his many friends, had a real passion for music, particularly hip hop. As a producer and performer, he would write his own lyrics for songs and perform them, and was uniquely talented in both disciplines.

He also had a great love for travel, and had spent the previous three years in Toronto, Canada before arriving in Korea. There he worked as a barman and in construction at different periods, while cultivating his love for the arts in one of North America’s largest and most thriving metropolises.

A close friend of James in Toronto, Karen Sadleir, reflected on some of the reasons he was so popular with everyone he met, stretching from Monaghan, to Letterkenny, over to Toronto, and all the way to Gwangju in South Korea. “James was unique in his approach to life. He loved Toronto for its diversity; it was the perfect backdrop for his exceptionally creative mind. He lived every day with enthusiasm and positivity. He lived by his motto. ‘I don’t want to be a human being; I want to be a human doing.’ He will be dearly missed by all his friends.”

James leaves behind his parents, Desmond and Maura, brothers Christopher and Andrew, and his sister Emma.


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