Sejong Writing Competition Judges

2023 Sejong Writing Competition


Sijo Judges: David McCann | Mark Peterson | Seong-Kon Kim | Gyung-ryul Jang |
Essay Judges: Lyla Lee | Stephan Lee | Robert Yune |


David McCann


David McCann was born in Lewiston ME, grew up in Cambridge MA, received his B.A. from Amherst College, served in the first Peace Corps group to go to Korea, ROK, 1966-68, then received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University. He taught Classical Japanese language and literature at Cornell University, and then Korean literature at Cornell and at Harvard. He was appointed as the first Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Literature at Harvard in 1997. He retired on his birthday, July 1, in 2014.

During his graduate studies at Harvard he took creative writing classes with Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Fitzgerald, Robert Shaw, and Jane Shore.

David has published 32 books. His translations of poems by individual Korean poets have been published by Columbia University Press, Princeton University Press, Quarterly Review of Literature, and other presses. He translated the poems for The Temple of Words, An Anthology of Modern Korea Buddhist Poetry published in 2017 by the Jogye Buddhist Temple Order. Eleven books of his own poems have been published, including a dual-language edition of his sijo poems, Urban Temple, originally published by Bo Leaf Books in 2010, from Changbi Publishers, Seoul, in 2012. He has also published several books on Korean literary and cultural history. Several of his sijo have been translated and published recently in the Korean sijo journal Sijo Munhak.

David is a member of the poets group Every Other Thursday.

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Mark Peterson


Mark Peterson (Professor Emeritus of Korean history, literature and language, Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages. Brigham Young University, Provo, UT) received B.A.'s in Asian Studies and Anthropology from Brigham Young University in 1971. He received his M.A. in 1973 and his Ph.D. in 1987, both from Harvard University in the field of East Asian Languages and Civilization.

Prior to coming to BYU in 1984 he was the director of the Fulbright program in Korea from 1978 to 1983. He has been the coordinator of the Asian Studies Program and was the director of the undergraduate programs in the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies.

Dr. Peterson is a member of the Association for Asian Studies, where he was formerly the chair of the Korean Studies Committee; was also the book review editor for the Journal of Asian Studies for Korean Studies books. He is also a member of the Royal Asiatic Society, the International Association for Korean Language Education, the International Korean Literature Association, and the American Association of Korean Teachers. He served as past editor-in-chief for the Korea Journal, published by UNESCO in Korea, from 2015 to 2017.

Currently he is working with a research center he founded called The Frog Outside the Well Research Center, which publishes an active YouTube channel by that name. He also writes a monthly column for the Korea Times. He is also working on a documentary film -- the "Miracle Battalion"-- about a National Guard artillery battalion from southern Utah that fought in the Korean
War, saw heavy combat, and lost not a man.


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Seong-Kon Kim


Seong-Kon Kim is a Professor Emeritus of Seoul National University and a Visiting Scholar at Dartmouth College. From 2012 to 2017, Kim was President of the Literary Translation Institute of Korea, which was a Vice Minister level post.

On May 19, 2017, Kim received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the State University of New York. In 2018, Kim taught at George Washington University as Dean's Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Humanities and at the University of Málaga in Spain as a Visiting Professor. In the same year, Felipe VI, King of Spain, decorated Kim with La Orden del Merito Civil. In 2019, Kim taught at the University of California, Irvine as a Visiting Professor.

Professor Kim received his Ph.D. in English from SUNY/Buffalo under Professor Leslie A. Fiedler and studied comparative literature at Columbia University under Professor Edward W. Said. Professor Kim has received, among others, the SUNY/Buffalo International Distinguished Alumni Award, CU Distinguished Alumnus Award, and the Fulbright Distinguished Alumnus Award. In 2008, Kim received the Kim Hwantae Award for Literary Criticism and in 2014 the Woo Ho Humanities Award.

He was the founding President of the Korean Association of Literature and Film, President of the International Association of Comparative Korean Studies, President of the Korean Association of Modern Fiction in English, and President of the American Studies Association of Korea.

Kim was editor of literary journals such as Literature & Thought, 21st Century Literature, and Contemporary World Literature. In addition, Kim has been a regularly featured columnist for the Korea Herald since 2003. His Herald columns have frequently appeared in international media such as The Star, The Straits Times, and The Empire State News.

Previously, Professor Kim has taught at the University of California, Berkeley, Pennsylvania State University, and Brigham Young University and conducted research at Harvard-Yenching Institute and Oxford University.

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Gyung-ryul Jang


Gyung-ryul Jang received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in English from Seoul National University, and his Ph.D. degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Jang is now Professor Emeritus of Seoul National University, and a member of the National Academy of Science, Republic of Korea.

He has contributed numerous articles on contemporary literary theory and Korean literature to various literary journals in Korea. He has published two books of critical essays in sijo poetry: Poetics of Temporality: Toward a New Understanding of Sijo Poetry (Seoul: Seoul National University Press, 2013); and What Does Change and What Should Not Change: Critical Essays in Sijo Poetry (Seoul: Literary Notebook, 2017). Some other recent publications are as follows: What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen: Essays in Korean Literature (Seoul: Moonji, 2016); Somewhere Between Insight and Blindness: Critical Essays in Contemporary Korean Literary Trend (Seoul: Munhakdongne, 2017); Is it a Petal or a Butterfly?: Essays in Korean Sijo and Japanese Haiku and Tanka (Seoul: Lyric Poetry & Poetics, 2017); In Search of Hidden Trails Between Literature and Philosophy: Critical Essays in World Literature (Seoul: Gumul, 2018); and From Life to Literature, Literature to Life: Critical Essays in Contemporary Korean Literature (Seoul: Gold Egg, 2020).

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Lyla Lee


Lyla Lee is the bestselling author of YA books about K-pop and K-dramas as well as the Mindy Kim series and the upcoming Gigi Shin books for younger readers. Her books have sold more than 40,000 copies and have been translated into multiple languages around the world.

Originally from South Korea, she’s lived in various cities throughout the United States, worked various jobs in Hollywood, and studied Psychology and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California.

She now lives in Dallas, Texas.

Visit Lyla at or on social media (IG, Twitter, and TikTok @literarylyla).

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Stephan Lee


Stephan Lee is a journalist, author, and multi-fandom K-pop stan.

He currently works as Senior Editor at Bustle after a five-year stretch covering books and movies at Entertainment Weekly. At EW, he traveled to Seoul for three weeks to write a feature about Korean entertainment’s world domination, interviewing K-pop idols, filmmakers, and drama writers.

He earned an MFA in Creative Writing at The New School.

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Robert Yune


Robert Yune earned his BA and MFA from the University of Pittsburgh. His fiction has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Pleiades, and The Los Angeles Review, among others.

In 2008, he received a fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

His debut novel Eighty Days of Sunlight was nominated for the 2017 International DUBLIN Literary Award. Yune’s debut collection Impossible Children won the 2017 Mary McCarthy Prize and was published in 2019 by Sarabande Books.

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