2023 Sejong Writing Competition
|Adult Division||Senior Division||Junior Division|
Fort Wayne, IN
Los Angeles, CA
10th grade, (Katheryne Gullo)
North Hollywood Senior High
|Ian Kim (tie)
7th grade, (David Myers)
Princeton Charter School
|Kit Pan (tie)
8th grade, (Genee Major)
Springman Middle School
River Falls, WI
10th grade, (P.K. Harmon)
St. John's School
11th grade, (Christy Villegas)
Fulton Science Academy Private School
8th grade, (Genee Major)
Springman Middle School
grade, (Maria Asvos)
William Howard Taft High School
5th grade (Jaejun Kwon)
Norwood Public School
12th grade, (Maria Asvos)
William Howard Taft High School
grade, (Genee Major)
Springman Middle School
Lambert High School
Basking Ridge, NJ
6th grade, (Connie Jun)
William Annin Middle School
*Honorable Mention - Friend of the Pacific Rim Award
( ) Teacher's name
I heard about this competition entirely by accident. A professor received a mailed invitation to enter, and decided against it. Instead of throwing away the invitation, he gave it to me. I entered on a whim, but loved the process of reading, researching, and analyzing a work of literature from another culture.
My education has primarily centered around British and American literature, so I did quite a bit of research on Korean culture and literary tradition to ensure that I read “The Glass Shield” in its intended context. The most striking thing I learned was that literature develops in very similar ways, regardless of culture or geographic location. The differences between various literary traditions are beautiful, but I found the consistency of literary development across cultures fascinating.
Some of my hobbies include reading, writing, hiking, embroidering, playing guitar, and spending time at local coffee shops.
I have too many personal heroes to count, and all of them are people who have been role models to me in faith, friendship, and academics. In the future, I hope to continue to rely on the support of those I love as I teach and further my own education.
My name is Maegan Connor. I’m from Dallas, TX, and I am a senior at Emmanuel College (GA), graduating in May 2023. After graduation, I will be moving back to my hometown of Dallas, TX, to teach High School English.
I heard about the Sejong Culture Society Writing Competition from my senior project advisor, Dr. Paul Petrovic. My senior thesis grappled with Korean Literature, so Dr. Petrovic made room in the syllabus for me to write this essay and submit. Through writing this essay, I have gained knowledge and understanding of the social complexities that Korea has to offer. I grappled with the notion of haves and have-nots in Korean culture and the effects of modernity throughout.
Some of my hobbies include reading and writing, bowling, dirt track racing, spending time outdoors, trying new restaurants, and hanging out with family and friends.
My two personal heroes would have to be my mother and my sister. My mother has always been a courageous woman and has endured some of life’s hardest challenges. Though she has been through challenges in life, she has always been kind hearted and good spirited. My mother always the perfect advice, even when I do not particularly want it. My sister, Katie, is also one of my heroes. Katie has Cerebral Palsy and lives at home with my parents. There is never a time you can catch Katie without a smile on her face. She is witty and extremely intelligent, she is my best friend.
My name is Dylan Chang, and I’m currently a sophomore at North Hollywood High School.
I first heard about this contest from my English teacher, Ms. Gullo, and I didn’t really expect to enter it at first. However, after reading “Waxen Wings” I found I really resonated with the story and I felt compelled to write about it. As I wrote my entry, I found myself liking the story even more, especially Ha Seong-nam’s unique and beautiful method of storytelling. Going through the story and unpacking just why it made me feel this way was a unique and enjoyable experience, and I’m grateful to this contest for allowing me to go through it.
I’m interested in reading, drawing, and anything where I’m learning something new. I’m not quite sure what I want to do in the future, but I’m hopeful that reading and literature will always stay with me, whether or not it’s linked to a career.
My name is Rina Olsen and I am a current sophomore at St. John’s School. I first heard about this competition when, while researching Korean culture and literary forms to better connect with my Korean heritage, I stumbled across the Sejong Cultural Society. Writing this essay with an analytical eye furthered my understanding of contemporary Korean literature, and as an aspiring writer, this proved a transformative learning experience.
My hobbies include reading, writing, playing the piano, and looking up facts about history. My personal heroes are my mother and father, who continue to inspire me every day. My future goals are driven by my interest in exploring my heritage as well as my passion for storytelling, as I continue to write historical fiction novels about Korea.
My name is Sungbin Choen, and I am a junior at Fulton Science Academy.
I heard about this competition from my friend. While writing my essay, I could find the beauty of Korean literature. Analyzing various rhetorical devices, I enjoyed figuring out what the author intended to write about.
My hobbies are reading, listening to music, and working out.
My personal hero is my grandmother who taught me a lot about Korean culture.
In the future, I would like to be a successful businessman who contributes to the spread of Korean culture.
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My English teacher, Mrs. Maria Asvos, introduced my Dual Credit class and I to this competition in hopes to gain experience in writing with different prompts and formats, participate in a contest to gain exposer, and also to learn from the short story as well as each other.
While writing this essay, I learned that it is much easier to write something when you relate to the topic given on a personal level. I also learned that under more limitations, many times, you can be more creative in what you do.
When I am not attending school, I like to spend my free time painting, listening to music as well as playing my musical instruments such as flute, piano, and voice, reading, journaling, doing photography, and spending time with friends and family.
My family and I are very close to it is no surprise that my personal hero that I have looked up to throughout my life is my dad.
Overall, I have many life goals, many of which I think are attainable, but one that I have been recently working towards accomplishing is becoming a Physical Therapist for my career.back to top
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Hi, I'm Ian Kim, a seventh grader from Princeton, NJ. While I have lived in NJ my whole life, I visit Korea once every few years and have always been interested in Korean culture. When my writing mentor told me about the Sejong writing competition, I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to learn more about my Korean heritage. Writing the essay encouraged me to think more deeply about the implications of childhood folktales like Congjui Potjui, the Golden Ax and Silver Ax, and Shimchong. I hope this competition will encourage more people to learn about traditional Korean stories and their lessons that can be applied to anyone in any generation.
I have always enjoyed writing and sharing it with my peers. I like swimming, playing musical instruments, listening to music, and playing online games with my friends. I also love reading books, researching topics, and discussing them with friends. A few of my favorite books are Life of Pi, the Tintin book series, and The Giver. There are so many things I want to do, and there aren't enough hours in a day!
While I'm unsure what the future has in store for me, I know I'll follow my passions and dreams. Beginning from my childhood dream of becoming a paleontologist, I am still searching for what I genuinely want to achieve. Currently, my interest lies in climate change and some misrepresentations of history. I hope to study more about these issues and raise public awareness.
I owe all my success and inspiration to my parents, who are my real heroes. They support me in every aspect of my life and encourage me to enjoy each day. As I mentioned in my essay, having supportive parents who could easily communicate with me without barriers became the foundation for me to thrive. I am also grateful for my grandparents and other family members in Korea, who always cheer me on. I appreciate their support and trust in me, and I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude.
I heard about this competition through my teacher.
While writing my essay, I learned that stories are deeply universal, while having differences depending on where in the world they are told. They’re all linked together by the ideas they share, the questions they ask, and what made this particular folktale its own was the concept of modesty.
How can you let yourself fall lower when you’ve already lost? Isn’t it better to win something and compensate, even if through a lie? Such questions are often asked in any work of writing, regardless of language, and that’s why writing is my favorite hobby.
My other greatest interest is music, and I love playing my violin and piano.
In the future I hope that I can leave something worth creating behind and continue to pursue my passions
I heard about the essay contest from my ELA teacher, Dr. Major. In ELA we were writing interpretive essays on the Korean folktales used in the contest. After, she told us that we could submit our essays to the official competition if we wanted to. I did because, why not! I guess it worked out pretty well!
While writing this essay, which was initially for a class assignment, I learned that these Korean folktales really develop quite similarly to the classic American folktales that I’ve grown up hearing. They are typically unrealistic at points, which I touched on in my essay, but always end up showing a valuable lesson that the story builds up to the whole time. I learned something about myself too. I submitted this essay with pretty low expectations because I knew that there would be lots of strong competition because it is a big competition. When I saw that I had actually gotten third place it sort of shocked me because I realized that I must be a better writer than I had thought and that my writing might be able to take me somewhere in highschool and beyond.
Some hobbies of mine are playing soccer, volleyball, tennis, basketball and any other sport that I can get a hold of. I love hanging out with my friends or playing games online with them. I also like to read at night because there is nothing better than falling asleep to a great book.
My real hero’s in my life have been my parents who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much so that my siblings and I could have all the opportunities that we wanted in our lives. I really do not know what I would do without them.
My main goal for life is to raise a strong family that grows up to help change the world. That seems like the most effective way I can help and male the world a better place for everyone. I of course want to find ways that I can make the world a better place as well. I want to be able to start my own business that really contributes to the world and helps people with something. What that something will be, I have absolutely no idea, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
My name is Hailey Lee, and I am currently a fifth grader at Norwood Public School, New Jersey.
I was introduced to this thrilling competition by my amazing writing teacher, Mr. Kwon, and am sincerely grateful for this exulting opportunity he opened to me. With Korean-American backgrounds, I was delighted to have this chance to learn more about some folktales and my culture. I enjoyed myself reading through the different folktales that my parents listened to as kids.
I have several hobbies; writing, reading, art, playing the piano and debates being just a few among them. Free-writing has always been a passion of mine, so I decided to join this competition because it would be a new challenging and riveting experience. My personal hero is my mom, who displays the honorable grit of a matriarch, a loyal wife and a mother to two. Patience, respect and unconditional love are just a few of her few attributes.
I have many plans for my future, performing well in my Carnegie Hall performance, entering other competitions and more, too long to write in this short passage about me.
Thank you for organizing this opportunity for me and other earnest writers!
My name is Jake Milner and I am an 8th grade student at Springman Middle School in Glenview, Illinois.
I learned about this competition from my English teacher Dr. Major. I was excited to learn and see how writing and culture is different in other parts of the world. As I wrote my essay, I learned about the style and characteristics of Korean folktale and how writing differs across the globe. By participating in this competition I found a better understanding and greater appreciation for Korean culture and writing.
One of my hobbies is basketball and through playing I learned how to stay determined and always push myself to be better. Another hobby I have is improv comedy that I learned through a school called the Laughing Academy. I learned improv since I was young and it has taught me how to think creatively and stay calm under pressure. I have also been interested in engineering for a long time. I like the idea of working in a field that gives me the opportunity to channel my creativity into my work and bring my own ideas to life.
My personal heroes are my parents, throughout my whole life they have supported and helped me reach whatever goals I have.
In the future I want to pursue a career in engineering and continue to push myself to be my best self. I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this competition and be able to learn about Korean culture and writing. In the future I hope to improve my writing skills and continue to utilize what I've learned for the rest of my life.back to top
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