2007 Sejong Writing Competition

Essay Winners


  Senior Division Junior Division
First Place Jay Lee
(Glenview, IL)
11th grade, Glenbrook South High School
essay

Eunice Lee
(Asheboro, NC)
8th grade, South Asheboro Middle School
essay

Second Place Christine Sun-Ah Kwon
(Fort Lee, NJ)
12th grade, Fort Lee HS
essay
Michael Chung
(Los Angeles, CA)
4th grade, Curtis School
essay
Third Place Cecilia Ahn
(Fort Lee, NJ)
11th grade, Fort Lee High School
essay
Andrew Song
(Palatine, IL)
7th grade, Plum Grove Junior High
essay
Honorable Mention

Friend of the Pacific Rim Award
Candice DiCiano
(Northfield, NJ)
11th grade, Mainland Regional High School
Rachel Falsey
(New Glarus, WI)
8th grade, New Glarus Middle School
Caroline Eui-Kyung Kim
(Lincolnshire, IL)
12th grade, Lake Forest Academy
Lillian Hexter
(Boston, MA)
7th grade, Boston Latin School
Joohee Kim
(Tenafly, NJ)
10th grade, Tenafly High School
Katherine Yujin Kim
(Chestnut Hill, MA)
8th grade, Edith C. Baker School
Alina Young Lee
(Ellicott City, MD)
12th grade, Centennial High School
William Oliver LaFiandra
(Woodstock, CT)
3rd grade, Woodstock Elementary School
Kenneth Lee
(Okemos, MI)
10th grade, Okemos High School
Yeri Lee
(Upper Arlington, OH)
8th grade, Hastings Middle School
WenFang Li
(Vestal, NY)
10th grade, Vestal Senior High School
Jeong Bin Moon
(Champaign, IL)
8th grade, Edison Middle School
  Soyun Mun
(Champaign, IL)
7th grade, Jefferson Middle School
Stella Tu
(Northbrook, IL)
7th grade, Wood Oaks Junior High

 

Jay Lee

first place, senior division

Jay Lee

Jay Lee is a 17-year-old junior who was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. Jay combats the boredom that is associated with suburbia by being as active as possible.

He enjoys writing for his high school's newspaper (The Oracle), and is an active members in Business Professionals of America, the Darfur Activism Club (STAND), Pep Club, and the Lacrosse Team. Outside of school, you'll most likely find him hanging out with his friends, shooting hoops, serving at his church's youth group, or playing air-guitar in front of his mirror.

Listening to music, watching movies, playing and watching sports, eating, and laughing are just a few of Jay's hobbies. He also really wishes that he was musically talented, but he has finally come to terms with reality.

Jay's main short term goal is to attend the University of Illinois to study Journalism. Long term goals include traveling to Africa, getting a job that he loves, catching a ball at Wrigley Field, and finally becoming mature.

His personal hero and savior is Jesus Christ, and he is blessed that God has placed quality people in his life for him to look up to, such as his parents, sister, and pastors.

Jay entered the Sejong Cultural Society Writing Competition because he wished to not only take advantage of an opportunity to exhibit his meager writing ability, but to share and express his own personal experiences of balancing the cultures of America and Korea and impart what little wisdom he has. Jay has yet to fully discover his identity as a Korean American in America's so called pluralistic society, but he remains confident that he will eventually.

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Christine Kwon

second place, senior division

Christine Kwon

I entered this competition to see if anyone would recognize some of his or her own feelings in my writing. Between two cultures there is so much lost in translation; and I wanted to bring to light some details that are often overlooked. From writing this essay I’ve realized that identity is amorphous, and can only be defined as the space between culture and experience.

My appreciation for language stems from my grandfather, who was the only fluent English speaker in the family. I admired his flawless elocution, his heavy New York accent. He was a multi-lingual beast sometimes, roaring in a frenzied Spanish, teaching me Chinese characters in the cool summer breeze, speaking to me always in Korean so I would not forget where I stood among the motley brew of people called Americans.

Grandpa was a rebel. We slept past twelve, we ate when we were hungry, we discovered what made us happy and we went after it (hence the frequent trips to convenience stores for lottery tickets and popsicles). He made it okay to break the rules. He said it was impossible to truly succeed in anything without taking risks, and he let me taste the thrill of crossing the line so I would not be afraid to do it alone.

So I write to remember my grandfather: his philosophies, his stinky brown loafers. My approach to writing reflects his approach to life, which is to be spontaneous, to go with gut reactions, to find the arrow of life in order to draw the tangents.

Other than that, my short term goal in life is to attend Yale University in a few months. Once there, I want to write fiction, prepare for medical school, perform scientific research, and take some art classes.

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Cecilia Ahn

third place, senior division

I entered this competition to share my struggle with my identity, and I learned more about my journey to find myself.

My goal in the fututre is to create a balance between both worlds. I enjoy spending time with friends, and emeting new people.

My personal hero is my mom, who has been a role model in my life.

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Candice DiCiano

honorable mention, senior division

I entered this competition because I thought it would be interesting to learn what my aunt, uncle, and cousin's lives were like when then adjusted to life here in America and learn how life is different in South Korea.

My goal in the future is to become either an artist or a photographer or both.

And my personal hero is my mom Charlotte DiCiano because she supports me in anything I do.

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Caroline Eui-Kyung Kim

honorable mention, senior division

Caroline Kim

I participated in the Sejong Cultural Society Essay Competition in order to spread awareness about second generation and third generation Koreans. Specifically, it is important to recognize the growing influence of the Korean-American culture. I wanted to explain that the Asian population is no longer a minority and that it is becoming a leading force in today’s global community.

Essentially, I wrote this essay to communicate this to other students and Korean-Americans because I believe it is crucial for them to understand what a powerful impact they can make.

Through this process, I learned more about myself as an individual. Although I have always respected my native Korean culture, I developed a deeper understanding and pride for my country after writing this essay.

In the future, I hope to follow my filial roots and practice medicine. I want to uphold the three generations of doctors on both sides of my family.

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Joohee Kim

honorable mention, senior division

Joohee Kim

Joohee Kim revived her passion for writing at the beginning of this year as a sophomore and went through an intense phase that she would describe as writer’s euphoria. Her passion revived, she felt she needed to start sharing her works; thus, she entered the Sejong Writing Contest. This writing contest finally allowed her to write about her amazing experience in Korea. She learned that perhaps her future in writing was not so bleak and not so limited to her local area.

Joohee aspires to be many things but she does not want to decide just yet; she would like to continue dreaming. Of the many possible things she would like to be an international business lawyer, a U.N. interpreter, and an international journalist. Involving herself in many international affairs has to do with the fact that Joohee is currently proficient in four languages and hopes to learn several more in the future. This will help reach her ultimate goal to travel all over the world, and to embrace every culture. Aside from learning languages, Joohee also loves playing the flute with a zealous passion. She also adores her personal hero is Leonardo Da Vinci because he was a Renaissance man, both literally and figuratively. Thus, she hopes she can become the contemporary Renaissance woman.

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Alina Young Lee

honorable mention, senior division

Hello, my name is Alina Young Lee.

I entered my essay to this competition because I believed that mixing my Korean-American culture through my childhood kimbap experiences would enthrall readers to keep reading.

After writing my essay, I learned that if I try my best to be creative, I can take something so mundane as kimbap and artistically make it symbolize what it means to me to be Korean in a non-Korean society.

My goal in the future is to study either pre-medicine, pre-veterinary medicine, or pre-optometry. My hobbies and personal interests include listening to music, writing in my diary, dancing, and traveling.

My personal hero is my sister, Belinda. I admire her generosity, independence, and motivation to do everything as best she can. She taught me to accept mistakes made in the past and learn from them for the future.

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Kenneth Lee

honorable mention, senior division

Ken Lee

Kenneth Lee was born in Michigan, to first generation Korean parents that arrived for his father’s doctoral degree. Although Ken has not visited his extended family in Korea enough, he maintains his language with his family.

Through the Sejong Writing Contest, Ken was forced to reexamine his own view as an American with a Korean heritage. What he found through the writing process was what a Korean-American identity truly meant to him, which was an idea individual from other opinions.

Competitive swimming remains as Ken’s dedication. He finds time for writing in his journal and reading the newspapers. Ken is unsure of his future, but he would like to enter a career in either literature or the sciences.

A hero to Ken is his uncle, who remains dedicated to his family and his nephew, while busy with his international travels. Ken’s mother, a woman of strong determination in her children and her own life, has supported Ken in all his activities, including the essay.

Ken is thankful toward the Sejong Society for providing his voice.

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WenFang Li

honorable mention, senior division

I entered the competition to compete against others to see how well I compare amongst other successful writers.

Through this essay, I learnt that there are so many accomplished writers who spent a great deal of their time fine-tuning their works, and I hope that in the future, I will become like them in fine-tuning my own works.

In the future, I hope to start spending more time writing outside of the classroom while also reading more. Hopefully, I will spend less time procrastinating and actually do something productive.

Even though school takes up a good portion of my time right now, I love to read, sleep, listen to music and play the viola. On a lesser scale, I enjoy drawing portraits of people, swimming and aimlessly surfing the internet.

My personal hero is my best friend JY. She's busy with piano, school and her family, but somehow, she always manages to find time for me. She's always supported me, comforted me and helped me get over my setbacks.

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Eunice Lee

first place, junior division

Eunice Lee

My name is Eunice and I am 13 years old. Right now, I live in Asheboro, North Carolina, known for its country foods and hospitality. Life here is very family oriented and even people on the streets come to help each other out. In my busy schedule, I love to practice Taekwondo and volleyball along with all sports, and playing the piano and flute. Laughing and smiling is a must in my life.

In the future, I hope to incorporate my love for kids with God’s work and spread His love toward as many people as I can. Whether I become a psychologist, (which is what I am pursuing) a missionary, or a teacher, I hope to promote Jesus Christ. Honestly I can say that He is my personal savior and hero. In all the times when I felt like trashing my drafts, He was the one who kept my light bulb fixed throughout this competition. Thank you God!

At first, I was so amazed that there was such a thing as a Korean-American competition. I was and still am amazed. I entered this competition to express my opinions on my relationship with my parents and I can tell you that we truly bonded while hearing stories from their past and being able to accept our differences. I hope that from all the sacrifices they have made for me, I am a reward to them as much as they are to me.

"Thank you for having this competition for Korean Americans. I hope that many other people experience what I did. Thanks again!"
-Eunice

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Michael Chung

second place, junior division

Michael Chung

I am a ten-year-old student at the Curtis School in Los Angeles.

I entered my essay into the contest because I am proud of my ethnic background. All of my ancestors were born in Korea, which I have visited many times.

I love the Korean culture-the food (especially bul-go-gi and kal-bi), the language, and the historical sites and sights.

I wanted to write about a recent trip to Seoul where my mom and I searched for her past.

Through writing this essay, I learned that building bridges isn’t accomplished only by touching or seeing what my ancestors had. Although many historical landmarks remain, but many “unimportant” buildings are demolished and get replaced by other buildings.

By exploring my thoughts, I realized I could also connect with my heritage by listening to my parents stories, which have a big effect on my imagination. Through these stories, I can imagine Korea in the past.

Someday, I want to start either a computer company or a car company.

My hobbies are Lego’s and biking.

My personal interests include the piano, the violin, and cars, especially the DeLorean.

My personal hero is Bill Gates because he created the first software for personal computers.

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Andrew Song

third place, junior division

Andrew Song

My name is Andrew Song and I'm a 12-year old 7th grader at Plum Grove Junior High. I have been swimming competitively for several years as well as playing soccer. I was on the math team for the '06-07 year. I have played piano for 7 years and clarinet for 4 years. My favorite hobby of all is "getting that extra dollar and brownie from my Sabio english teacher, Ms.Dee".

My goal in the future is show the world how wonderful it can be to have a good education. I believe it is the utmost importance to receive a good education. Whether it is becoming a teacher or giving speeches about education, I want to show to the world the treasures of an education.

When it comes to heroes, I think a little differently. Heroes are people who have saved you, changed you, and left a lasting impression. My life so far has been pretty smooth. No one has really changed my life. Sure, I look up to my family and teachers but they are role models. Role models who I am
used to and will see every day. As for heroes...not yet.

I entered this competition because I was inspired by other people to do so. This really gave me a chance to tell the world my words. I learned to look deeper inside myself and find that little spark of confidence. I learned that my Korean heritage is too awesome for unworthy eyes to see... Just kidding!

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Rachel Falsey

honorable mention, junior division

Rachel Falsey

Rachel Falsey is 14 years old and in 8th grade.

She entered the 2007 Sejong Writing Competition after her teacher mentioned it during class because she knew she had a good story to tell. Right away she thought of the Korean martial art Tae Kwon Do and how it’s tenets have affected the way she lives.

Rachel has learned that the Korean culture through the sport of Tae Kwon Do has influenced her life in many positive ways.

Some of her goals in the near future are to do well in school, play sports, and enjoy life. Rachel hopes to become a veterinarian in the future.

Some of her hobbies and interests include Tae Kwon Do, soccer, volleyball, snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing, reading, and drawing.

Bethany Hamilton is one of her personal heroes because she is brave, hardworking, and has a positive outlook on life.
Aloha!

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Lillian Hexter

honorable mention, junior division

Lillian Hexter

I’m thirteen years old and in seventh grade at Boston Latin School (BLS). My twin sister and I were adopted from Seoul, South Korea when we were four months old. I currently live in Boston, Massachusetts.

I entered my essay into this competition because being a Korean adoptee is one of the most important things in my life. Some people think I’m a bit “obsessed”, but I’m proud to be from Korea so I enjoyed writing this essay. It was a completely different experience from writing an essay for school. Being a Korean is a topic I feel I write really well about especially the trip to Korea three years ago (the summer of 2004). It was the most amazing trip I’ve ever been on and really changed my life. The trip made me even more passionate about my heritage.

Through writing this essay, I realized how proud I am to be a Korean and how I want to educate other people on the beautiful culture of Korea. Even though some of my friends think I talk too much about it and get too excited whenever Korea is mentioned, I don’t care because I cherish my heritage too much to let people take it away from me.

Although I don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up, I still have many goals. One of my goals is to graduate from high school and go to college. I would also like to go back to Korea and maybe volunteer in an orphanage. Whenever it is that I return to Korea, I hope to be able to converse in Korean. Fluently if possible but if not, I would at least like to be able to carry on a conversation!

One of my interests is music. I play clarinet and but I also enjoy listening to music and singing (just for fun though, I’m not that good!). I’ve always loved reading though it’s hard to find time to read for fun because of schoolwork, but I try to whenever I get the chance! I like hanging out with my friends and being with family.

My personal heroes would have to be my parents who are always there to support me, my twin sister Nora who is my best friend in the whole world as well as my sister, and all of my friends who I couldn’t live without!

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Katherine Kim

honorable mention, junior division

When I stayed in Korea, I didn't realize how important my homecountry's culture was to me. Sometimes I thought that Korean culture was kind of worse than western cultures. However, since I moved here, America, I realized that how important and precious my home culture is. Also, every time I designed something for school work, I was always praised by teachers because I had my own color which was based on Korean culture. It was really special for me that I finally realized about the importance of my home country's culture. Therefore, I decided to enter my essay.

It moved my heart while I wrote my essay because it made me to think more about Korea where I miss a lot and have tons of memories about. I learned how much I love my home country which, I think, is very important for me to grow up as a mature person.

I have several goals, but especially, I want to be a fashion designer or an architect. Also, I want to be a journalist someday.

My hobbies are listening to music, drawing pictures, singing, and making my own stories. I am interested in modern arts, fashion and interior designs. Also, I am interested in playing electric guitar.

My personal hero is Coco Chanel because I personally love Chanel. Also, I admire her because she created the color 'black' as one of the most attractive and elegant color which used to be the color that represented deaths or sorrow. In my opinion, she was one of the creative people at that time. I really admire her even though it might sound a little dorky.

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William Oliver LaFiandra

honorable mention, junior division

William LaFiandra

I entered the Sejong Cultural Society Writing Competition because my parents suggested that I do it. They thought it was a great opportunity for me to get my thoughts and feelings down on paper about how I am feeling about being Korean in an “American Society”. I am so glad I took the time to do it. I learned a lot about myself at 8 years old and reaffirmed how proud I am to be who I am. It was the first time I entered any type of writing competition so I felt pretty nervous about strangers reading my thoughts and opinions. I am honored to have received an honorable mention in a pool of such gifted writers.

I love learning, so I hope to go to an Ivy League College such as Harvard University and study mathematics. I love statistics. After I graduate though, I will probably put my career on hold and pursue my dream to be a major league baseball player. In my free time I love to study and play the piano, play baseball and golf, play board games with my family, analyze stats from professional sport teams and read.

I have two heroes – my mother and father. They show me unconditional love, support and patience and they are pretty funny too.

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Yeri Lee

honorable mention, junior division

I entered my essay into this competition because a friend of ours had told us about the competition and I felt that I had something to say in response to the promp.

As I was writing the essay, I began to realize how important the Korean language was to me while growing up in America. In the future, I hope to teach Korean to my children as well. As my Korean isn't as good as it could be right now, I also plan to learn more Korean.

My hobbies are many and varied because I am interested in many things. I love to read but I also like to spend time with my friends and spend time outside.

I do not have a single personal hero, but I admire anyone who has tried something that is difficult and outside of his/her comfort zone because I know from experience how much of a challenge it can be.

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Jeong Bin Moon

honorable mention, junior division

Jeong Bin Moon

My third grade teacher, Mr. Hah, cared about me so much, and he changed my whole life. He did not give me what I needed, but he gave me the things that I needed to have in order to get the happiness that I desired. I wrote my essay with all my heart to thank him. That is why I entered this essay competition.

I learned that life is simple. There are always two ways you can choose: right and left. Depending on the path you choose, the results are different. This competition reminded me of the truth that, with the help of Mr. Hah, I chose the right way to live my life. I am so grateful that I had a chance to enter this competition, and this made me think once more how important I am.

My future goal is to be an accountant.

God is my personal hero. He is the one who always care about me more than anyone, and leads me to where I should be for His and my own good. He meant to put me in hardships with my stepmother to send me to America. By that I could experience how different America and Korea are. So many Koreans cared about the fact that my parents had divorced, but almost no one really cares about it in America. I was so surprised.

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Soyun Mun

honorable mention, junior division

Soyun Mun

When my ESL teacher suggested participating in this competition, I was pretty nervous about it because I was not sure that I could express my own opinions through writing very well. I knew that I had a good chance and I wanted to write about my feeling about the experience of living in a different country, America. Therefore, I entered my essay into this competition.

To me, this writing event was very good opportunity to think about the differences between Korean and American culture. Also I realized that my English skills are not good enough to explain all of my thoughts yet…. However, I really liked to do this job!

Yet, I haven’t chosen my goal in future.- It changes very often.- I’m always considering my future and trying to choose the best – the goal that is always right and makes people happy and more comfortable.

My hobbies are playing the piano, watching movies and drawing pictures. Also I love to listen to music and to search for some popular composers.

My personal heroes are my parents. They always encourage me, help me and lead me to the right way.

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Stella Tu

honorable mention, junior division

Stella Tu

I'm in 7th grade at Wood Oaks Jr. High School in Northbrook.

I learned through this competition how to write better and identify each of my cultural backgrounds. I want to be a doctor or lawyer in the future to help others.

My personal heroes are my mom and dad.

My personal interests are art, music, and writing. My greatest accomplishments are winning the 2006 Midwest Walgreen Piano Concerto Competition in the MYA Junior Division, playing solo at Carnergie Hall as the piano winner of the 2006 New Praise Society Competition and winning twice at the Sejong Piano Competition. Also, I was awarded best artist of my category in the 2006 State Fish Contest, and won the State Flower Contest.

Recently, I was awarded first prize for my division in the 2007 Holocaust Art Contest, as well as winning a silver prize in the 2006 Song A Literature Contest.

I am an active member of the Midwest Young Artists Orchestra as a cellist.

I also hold a black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do and enjoy singing.

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