Essay Competition Rules and Information

Deadline: 11:59pm, January 31st, 2014 (CST)

young adult and senior division | junior division | guidelines

Young adult & senior divisions (age 25 and younger & grade 12 and younger)
Yi Mun-yol (b. 1948) wrote Our Twisted Hero as a satirical allegory in response to the authoritarian regimes that headed South Korea's government in the wake of the Korean War—a political "dark age" steeped with human rights controversies and accusations of corruption and ineptitude.

Read Our Twisted Hero by Yi Mun-yol

Young adult topic: Compare and contrast an aspect of Our Twisted Hero (e.g., plot, characters, setting, or background) to another artistic work, event—current or historical—or any subject matter of your choice.

Senior topic: Our Twisted Hero is an allegorical novel particular to a troubled time in modern Korean history, but it has many parallels to other literary works that offer similar allegories. Works like Lord of the Flies and A Clockwork Orange—both British—are about groups of non-adults who form their own societies with their own rules that mirror or oppose the values of the culture at large. Both of the western novels mentioned above also directly or indirectly address a significant problem in society. Compare Yi Mun-yol's work with one the books mentioned above or to another literary work or film with similar thematic content.

Alternately, senior division students may choose to write their essays in response to the young adult division topic.

Junior essay division (grade 8 and younger)
Korea has a rich tradition of storytelling, and its folk tales reflect important aspects of its history and culture. Many of the old historical texts are full of local legends and myths. Folk tales can be entertaining and educational, but they can also strike a deep chord in our personal lives, and many Korean folk tales demonstrate the universal tragedies and triumphs of daily life in the family.

Topics (choose one): Each topic refers to the list of Korean folktales found on our folktales index page. Please make sure to select a folktale under the "2014 Writing Competition" list. When writing your essay, please be sure to include specific references to the tale you chose to write about. In your analysis or interpretation of the stories, you may also want to make references to your own life experiences.

  1. Select one folk tale from the list and explain your interpretation of the story. What do you think it means? What is its importance? Why do you think it was created?
  2. If you could change one of these folk tales, what would you change and why? Do you disagree with something the tale is trying to convey?
  3. Which Korean folk tale character do you relate to best? Why? Would you make the same decisions as that character?

Divisions: young adult (age 25 and younger), senior (grade 12 and younger), and junior (grade 8 and younger)

  • Essays must not exceed 1,000 words in length.
  • Junior division students should refer to our folktales index when choosing a folktale to write about and select one of the stories listed there. Please choose only one topic and folktale to write about.
  • Entries must be submitted through our website.
  • One entry per category per contestant is permitted. (Contestants are permitted one essay and one sijo entry.)
  • All entries must be written in English.
  • Contestants' names cannot be written in their entries.
  • We reserve the right to use all submitted pieces in future publications of the Sejong Cultural Society with no compensation to the authors.
  • We reserve the right to not award any prizes.
  • Young adult division: First ($1,000), Second ($750), Third ($500)
  • Senior division: First ($500), Second ($400), Third ($300)
  • Junior division: First ($300), Second ($200), Third ($100)
  • Honorable mention (for all divisions listed above): Friends of Pacific Rim Awards ($50 each)
  • Winners' works may be published in the Korea Times Chicago and/or the Korean Quarterly.