2021 Sejong Writing Competition
|Adult Division||Senior Division||Junior Division|
San Diego, CA
Upper Saddle River, NJ
11th grade, (Lauren Zucker)
Northern Highlands Regional High School
8th grade, (Giner Reese)
Lausanne Collegiate School
|Second||none ||Jaehong Kim
10th grade, (Hannah Kim)
Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School
Camas High School
Falls Church, VA
6th grade, (Moon Jeung Chang)
Haycock Elementary School
Green Bay, WI
Archbishop Mitty High School
6th Grade, (Miho Hur)
Springman Middle School
New Albany, MI
Englewood Cliffs, NJ
11th grade, (Richard Weems)
Bergen County Academies
Iroquois Middle School
*Honorable Mention - Friend of the Pacific Rim Award
( ) Teacher's name
My name is Sarah Watanaskul and I am a medical student at the University of California, San Francisco. After studying Biology and English at the University of Chicago, I went on to pursue a career in medicine because it is a field that is at the intersection of science and the humanities. I enjoy exploring the ways in which literature deepens our understanding of the human condition and allows us to develop a more profound sense of empathy. Through literature we can glimpse into the psychology, behavior, and motivation of other minds; foster cross-cultural and cross-generational connections; and appreciate the diversity of thoughts and experiences from people of all different walks of life. Yi Sang’s “Wings” challenged me to consider the importance of historical context and the author’s experiences in interpreting a written work, and it was exciting to be able to draw connections that I would not have otherwise seen without delving into Korean history. Many thanks to the Sejong Cultural Society for providing this wonderful opportunity to learn and reflect!
In my free time I like trying new snacks, listening to podcasts, hiking, reading, knitting, journaling, taking walks, watching TV, learning languages, and getting lost in my own thoughts. My interests include medical education, mental health and well-being, literature, technology and innovation, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Going forward I hope to continue acquiring a better understanding of the systems (political, economic, social) that shape our society, their historical origins, the ways they impact health, and the ways in which they can be improved to promote equity, empathy, and healing connection.
I received my MFA from Arizona State University in 2016. I am a poet as well as a translator of Korean contemporary poetry. My original poetry has appeared in literary journals such as The Nashville Review, The Southeast Review, and Bitter Oleander, among others. I am co-translator of Kim Hyesoon's A Drink of Red Mirror (Action Books, 2019) and a recipient of a Korean Literary Translation Institute Translation Support Grant for my translation of Ra Heeduk's The Word that Stained the Leaves. My hobbies include reading and writing poetry, cooking, and astronomy. In the future, I would like to open a Community Translation Center, which helps facilitate translations of world literature. My personal heroes are writers Audre Lorde, Nawal el Saadawi, and Kim Hyesoon.
I found out about the Sejong Cultural Society's writing competition through my mentor and teacher whom I met while studying at Middlebury's Korean Language School Summer Program. While I had encountered and been inspired by the poetry of Yi Sang, I had never read any of his prose work before beginning my essay. I really enjoyed thinking about the ecology of Korea's natural landscape, the sun as a metaphor, and the surprise at the end of the piece when the speaker remembers having had actual wings that sprouted out of his body. For me, Yi Sang is a writer who makes my heart beat faster! I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to think deeply about his provocative work.
My name is Isabelle Hoida, and I’m currently a sophomore studying English at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. Investigating historical connections in literary works and psychoanalyzing characters and their related symbols fascinates me immensely. I believe writing a story is partially subconscious in scope; for writers, storytelling is an automatic if not expressive channel to lend understanding to the collective about unfolding world patterns. The spiritual significance behind prose, therefore, encourages me to intuitively theorize between the lines.
Interpreting “Wings” by Yi Sang in a holistic, yet historically contextualized manner during the Japanese occupation of South Korea was an eye-opening challenge for me. Thank you to the Sejong Cultural Society for providing this opportunity!
My hobbies include ballroom dancing, writing poetry, hiking in nature, listening to jazz, and reading. In the future, I aim to publish multiple books, travel the world, and get involved in a humanitarian project. My personal heroes are my family members, Chilly Gonzales, 전정국, and God.
My name is Laura Creekmore and I’m starting my second year as a PhD student at Louisiana State University this fall. In my free time, I enjoy playing with my dog and listening to music. I have a wide range of music that I love, but I usually can be found listening to Christian music, Folk Rock, or, most recently, K-Pop. During quarantine,
I started listening to BTS. Their messages of love and hope helped many people, including myself, through quarantine and I look up to them for this reason. Finding BTS led me to want a deeper understanding of Korean culture and language. I started trying to learn Hangul and looking up Korean writers. This is how I discovered Yi Sang. His stories and poetry helped me through quarantine and I was particularly drawn to “The Wings”. This is how I came across the Sejong Writing Competition.
I participated in the competition as a way to get closer to his work and his life. My main academic interest is Ecocriticism and this paper gave me the opportunity to look at different ways that the environment relates to the human psyche. I will continue to look up to BTS and Yi Sang as I continue in my academic career. In the future, I hope to instill in the students I teach a love and desire for reading, writing, and an appreciation for all cultures. I am so grateful for the Sejong Cultural Society for this opportunity and experience.back to top
My name's Will, and I'm currently a junior at Northern Highlands Regional High School. I found out about the Sejong Writing Competition from a friend, and I was immediately intrigued. Living in America my whole life, I rarely get the chance to be exposed to true domestic Korean culture. But as my family blood lines trace back to the great country, I see myself becoming more exposed to Korean culture in my everyday life.
Sejong's writing competition was a great opportunity for me to express my experience with Korean culture in an academic and lasting way, as the overall reading, writing, and research process shaped my new perspective on my Korean heritage.
In my free time, I love playing soccer and FIFA with my friends. My personal heroes would be my parents, as they inspire me everyday to become a better version of myself. In the future, I hope to put my passion for writing to good use and enact change within my life and the lives of those around me.
I learned about this competition from my guardian, who thought I would be interested. After reading these two stories, I’ve reflected upon my own perseverance and deepened my respect for tradition. The stories made me realize the ways in which I’ve forgotten some of my culture and how persistence is a crucial aspect of a person. I hope to carry over these values of persistence in what I enjoy doing— playing guitar, reading books, and playing sport— and never forget where I am from.
My personal hero is my dad who always trusts me and pushes me to be persistent in my life. As an international student, I’ve faced a lot of times when I’ve wanted to stop what I was doing and go back home. However, my dad always reassured me and reminded me of what I wanted to do and why I had chosen to study abroad. Without him, I wouldn’t have continued my journey of studying abroad or taken opportunities like entering this competition.
Going forward, I want to be a person who never gives up on myself and strives to be the best I can be until the last moment.
My name is Jaimie Choi and I am currently a sophomore at Camas High School in Camas, Washington. I first learned about this competition through a friend, and was immediately compelled to apply. As a Korean American, I thought that writing this essay would be the perfect chance for me to learn more about Korean literature and culture as a whole. Reading Yi Mun-yol's "The Old Hatter" and Choi In-ho's "The Poplar Tree" allowed me to delve into the various nuances of Korea's intricate and deep history. Besides writing, I enjoy swimming, playing the ukulele, and eating. Though I am not yet sure of what I want to do in the future, I'm sure that it will be something academically related in either math or writing. I also love to travel, and I hope to be able to visit many diverse countries and experience many cultures in the future.
My name is Allen Park, and I am currently a junior at the Bergen County Academies in Hackensack, New Jersey. I heard about this contest from my Creative Writing teacher, Mr. Weems.
Though essays are not my strong suit, I decided to give it a shot anyway. From this experience, I have learned that you should never let a fear of failure stop you from trying something. I like to play music and am currently working on mastering the ukulele so I can sing silly parodies to my friends.
I am a Red Cross lifeguard and nationally certified EMT. In my spare time, I volunteer at my local ambulance corps. Though I intend to pursue a career in medicine, I hope that I will never lose sight of the joys in writing.back to top
My name is April Zhang, and I am an eighth-grade student at Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis, Tennessee. I heard about the Sejong Writing Competition from my English teacher, Mrs. Reese, and I was thrilled and determined to participate in this contest. As I read the given folktales, their messages and moral lessons conveyed deeply inspire me. The reading and writing process have been excellent opportunities for me to comprehend and explore Korean literary culture.
My hobbies include skiing, playing tennis, and composing music. I’m extremely passionate about music, and I spend most of my free time playing the piano and listening to songs from different genres. BTS is my personal hero because of their positive influence, humble personality, effective teamwork, and unparalleled talent. Not only do they produce exceptional music and spectacular performances, but they are also a band with strong social awareness, encouraging millions of people, including myself, to accept and love who we are. They inspire me to stay passionate about what I enjoy doing.
My future goal is to continue writing songs and even adding lyrics to them, meanwhile improving myself by embracing new challenges. I am very honored to have won first place in the junior division. I am grateful to my English teacher, Mrs. Reese, for introducing me to this competition. In addition, I would like to thank the Sejong Writing Competition for providing this meaningful and unforgettable experience.
My name is Angela Yan, and I’m currently in 6th grade at Haycock Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia. Some of my hobbies include sports, math, music, and of course, reading and writing. I also enjoy hanging out with my friends and love to play with my black toy poodle, Louie. In the future, I would like to improve as an athlete as well as a musician and participate in more competitions. I'm not sure what I want to be when I grow up, but I plan to be a part-time author in addition to practicing my sports, music, and language skills because the extracurricular activities and classes I take – soccer, volleyball, piano, Chinese, and ballet – along with my personal interests are an important part of my life and my identity.
When I heard about this competition, my love of writing fueled my eagerness to participate. While writing my essay I had the opportunity to explore various Korean folktales, and was surprised to find that they were quite similar to the Chinese fables I learned as a young child. The folktales inspired me to stay positive, think logically, and delve deeper into the beauty of writing. I am so thankful for this writing experience, and I was able to grow as both a reader and writer through it.
Hello I am Oyunbileg Battulga, I am 12 years old and currently in 6th grade at Springman Middle School in Glenview, Illinois. I have always enjoyed reading and writing and being able to participate in this contest has been a great experience for me.
I’m originally from Mongolia. Recently, I have become interested in different traditions, languages, and pop cultures. And due to Korea’s rich culture and history, I have become fascinated and took a keen interest in Korea.back to top
My name is Maria Samuel. Presently I am in 8th grade and am a student at Iroquois Middle School in Niskayuna, New York. As soon as I heard about this competition from my English teacher Mr. Jesep, I knew it would be a great opportunity for me to learn about Korean culture and at the same time work on my essay writing skills. I really enjoy learning about different cultures and languages. In addition I love to sing and dance. My favorite subjects are Spanish, Math and Science. In the future I would like to pursue a career in medicine, find some way to incorporate my love for languages and different cultures into my career, and continue singing, dancing, writing, and reading.
From this essay competition and my teacher Mr. Jesep I learned the importance of reading. When we read we can look into the story to see how we can improve ourselves. One of the greatest reasons for why we read is to learn something about ourselves. This is why I think folktales are wonderful stories to read. They usually are very simple works of literature on the outside, but when one takes a closer look at it, they find that there are numerous lessons in the folktale to learn and that are applicable in life. I am so thankful for this writing opportunity and for the people in my life who I learn from and help me to grow.back to top