2020 Sejong Writing Competition
North Shore Country Day School
11th grade, Shirly Tagayuna
Westside Christian High School
8th grade, Shruti Sharma
Robert Frost Middle School
San Diego, CA
University of California, San Francisco
Westfield High School
7th grade, Haley Crockett
Fulton Science Academy Private School
University of California, Irvine
North Miami Beach, FL
11th grade, Samuel Brown
Miami Country Day School
Rodondo Beach, CA
6th grade, Christopher Meisel
University of Utah
12th grade, Melinda Powell
Howard High School
Bloomfield Hills, MI
8th grade, Katherine Georges
San Jose, CA
11th grade, Carolyn Cmaylo
Archibishop Mitty High School
6th grade, Haley Crockett
Fulton Science Academy Private School
11th grade, Brianna kim
Tenafly High School
8th grade, Cassandra Short
Wellesley Middle School
10th grade, Haley Crockett
Fulton Science Academy
*Honorable Mention - Friend of the Pacific Rim Award
My name is Isabella “Izzy” Cho, and I’m currently a senior at North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka, Illinois. To me, writing is not merely a tool for communication but, perhaps more importantly, a medium for empathic introspection and self-discovery. As a Korean American, I am always eager to explore texts that challenge the Eurocentric canon as the standard for American curricula. Engaging with Hwang Sunwon’s “Cranes” allowed me to discover a seminal Korean text and, by extension, reappraise my preconceived notions regarding the complex issue of socio-political reunification.
My hobbies include writing poetry, watching Korean television, and playing tennis. Though I have yet to envision a grand plan for my future, I am fairly certain that I will pursue a career that involves the extensive use of words in either an academic or creative context. Traveling is also a huge passion of mine; I hope to someday travel the world and write about my experiences navigating communities and cultures. I will be attending Harvard University in the fall.
My name is Anne Whitehouse, and I am originally from Seattle, Washington. I completed my undergraduate degree in Biology at Brigham Young University, and I am currently pursuing an MA in Environmental Humanities at the University of Utah. I am interested in using writing to find ways to connect urban audiences with the natural world and ecosystems that we are a part of, including engagement with international ideas and writings. My scholarly endeavors focus on studying Korean literature and culture in the context of environmental issues and ecological relationships. My master’s thesis research examines the complicated and myriad relationships humans have with urban rivers through ecocritical analysis of Korean literary texts about the Cheonggye Stream (청계천) in Seoul. I really enjoyed the opportunity to read, think about, and write about Hwang Sun-won’s “Cranes”. I was fascinated by the role that so many of the non-human, natural symbols in the story played in illustrating a complicated relationship between the characters (and, by extension, the two Koreas) as well as between the characters and the landscape. I am really grateful to the Sejong Cultural Society for providing this opportunity to learn more about Korean literature and culture. When I'm not studying or working, I enjoy experimental cooking, tap dancing, hiking, watching international films, reading, and spending time with my rough collie.
My name is Anna-Marie Ahn, and I am a junior from Westside Christian High School in Portland, Oregon. I am a second generation Korean American. I enjoy reading classic literature and poetry, playing soccer, and learning new languages. In the future, I hope to help the world practically by working in the medical field, specifically as a doctor. While reading Hwang Sunwon’s Cranes and writing this essay, I was able to deeply reflect on my identity as a Korean and learn more about the history of the Korean people, as well as about the ever present hope of reunification. As for my personal heroes, I have many, but today I would like to thank my grandparents from both sides of the family: Missionaries José and Maria Ahn and Missionaries Mark and Anna Yang. I thank them for their faith, prayers for reunification, and for instilling a deep pride of being a Korean in myself. I also thank my father for introducing the Sejong Competition to me, my mother and brother for always supporting me and praying for me. Lastly, I give all glory to God. Soli deo gloria.
My name is Jun Kim, and I am currently a junior attending Westfield High School in Centreville, Virginia. Since middle school, I have pursued my interest in Korean history by participating in national history competitions, writing essays, and even making a documentary with some friends. Because I was born here and lived my entire life here in America, my exposure to modern Korean politics has, for the most part, been limited to the news and overhearing snippets of my parents’ conversations. Doing research in order to write for the Sejong essay competition provided me with a chance to take a deeper look into both older and more recent political issues and events, as well as delve deeper into the topic of the Division of Korea than any history classes have motivated me to before. I would like to thank my parents for encouraging me to even consider writing an entry for this essay competition, as well as supporting me throughout the process. I would also like to thank the Sejong Cultural Society for providing me with such a rewarding opportunity to more thoughtfully research the Division of Korea as well as more deeply consider both the implications and complications of reuniting the two Koreas.
My name is Abigail Cherenfant and I am a junior at Miami Country Day School in Miami, Florida. I was first introduced to the Sejong Essay Competition last year through my English teacher, who had posted the contest’s advertisement on his classroom door for several months. My interest in Korean culture enticed me to enter. Over the past two years, I had encouraged myself to see things deeper than what may be presented superficially. The contest offered me an opportunity to learn more about Korea past its pop music, entertainment, food, and militant border. Through reading last year’s novella and Hwang Sunwon’s “Cranes”, I have developed a broader and more humanized perspective of Korea’s history and the sentiments that lay between and within the peninsula. Writing this year's essay reminded me of the power of compassion and interconnectedness that the world, oftentimes, takes for granted. I thank God, my English teacher, and my family for all their help!
"My name is Irene Park and I’m currently a junior attending Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, California. As a leader of my school’s advocacy team, I’ve discovered a passion for advocating for mental health reform; raising awareness on issues such as implicit bias; and increasing civic engagement and participation in my community. In the future I hope to pursue a career in politics so that I can continue to unapologetically advocate for social justice on both the legislative and grassroots levels. My other hobbies include creative writing, flute/piano performance, and dancing. Before engaging with Hwang Sun-won's short story "Cranes,” I’ve never extensively considered the polarized sentiments surrounding the discussion of a possible reunification. Although Korean American, I felt rather distant from the emotional fragility and pain that the Korean Peninsula is still contending with today. I would like to thank the Sejong Cultural Society for gifting me this opportunity to not only widen my understanding of this issue, but to deepen my gratitude for Korean culture through literature."back to top
I enjoy writing stories and watching comedies such as The Office. After college, I would like to work for NASA mission control. My personal hero is my mom because she taught me how to work hard and remain optimistic when times become tough. While writing my essay, I learned more about the history of the conflict that led to the split of the Korean Peninsula.back to top
My name is Anna Kim and I am in 8th grade at Robert Frost Middle School in Fairfax, Virginia. I love to play tennis, violin, and travel. I have also loved reading from a very young age. My fondest memories include visiting Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home in Missouri and tracing her footsteps after reading all of her books over and over. This passion for reading eventually grew into a love of writing as well. Before I wrote this essay, I always thought that American and Korean cultures were polar opposites. Though I am Korean-American, I have always felt like Korea was a distant relative. Through reading these folktales and reflecting on them, I have drawn closer to my Korean heritage and realized that the two cultures have similarities and that I can belong to both. I’m very grateful for this opportunity to explore Korean literature through this competition.
My name is Sanjna Akula, and I am in 7th grade at Fulton Science Academy Private School in Atlanta, Georgia. Some of my hobbies include playing the violin, volleyball, singing, classical dance, painting, and writing. I also love to travel and see new places.
I have always liked to write, but I definitely couldn't have made it this far without my friends, family, and my teachers. I want to thank my parents for always encouraging me to pursue my dreams and never give up.
I also want to thank my ELA teacher, Ms. Crockett for introducing this competition to me and challenging me to write to the best of my ability.
Lastly, I want to thank the Sejong Cultural Society for this amazing opportunity that has encouraged me to pursue my dream of being a writer.
My name is Abigail Davies and I am a sixth grade student at Chadwick school in Palos Verdes, California. My hobbies are reading, swimming, and horseback riding. My favorite books are Life of Pi and Twilight. I also enjoy reading The New York Times. I chose to enter this competition because my teacher encouraged me to participate, and I thought it sounded like a fun challenge. At school, my two favorite subjects are Science and English. I hope to use my passion for Science to become a veterinarian. My personal hero is Michelle Obama because she has given so many girls an education and encouraged them to reach their full potential. I really want to be like her so I can help kids and adults who are not able to read or write. From this competition I have learned to take risks and to revise a piece of writing to focus the topic of each of my paragraphs. I have also learned to make sure I’ve supported my ideas with clear examples. I am so grateful to the Sejong Cultural Society for allowing me to participate in this enjoyable experience.
My name is Sanjana Uppaluri, and I am a sixth grader at Fulton Science Academy Private School. I love to sing and give performances and play with my dog. If I'm not reading, I'm playing basketball.
I want to thank my amazing teacher, Ms. Crockett for all the support and introducing me to the Sejong Writing Contest.
In my free time I love to write and come up with creative stories.