2016 Sejong Writing Competition
|Adult Division||Senior Division||Junior Division|
New Trier High School
Manhattan Beach, CA
Palo Alto, CA
Jordan Middle School
San Diego, CA
University of Chicago
Saint Louis, MO
Parkway North High School
La Canada, CA
La Canada High School 7/8
Notre Dame High School
Saint Louis, MO
Parkway North High School
San Ramon, CA
Windemere Ranch Middle School
Jericho High School
Fort Lee, NJ
Bergen County Academies
Whitney Young Magnet High School
*Honorable Mention - Friend of the Pacific Rim Award
My name is Kaitlyn Jurewicz and I am a 9th grade English teacher at Appoquinimink High School in Middletown, DE. I am highly involved in the school community as the co-director of the annual Fall Play, and the faculty advisor for the Travel Club and Paintball Club.
This is my second year participating in the Sejong Cultural Society’s annual essay contest; during last year’s contest, I won third place for my essay on exaggeration as emotional expression in “Run, Dad.” Participating in the essay contest has introduced me to a variety of authors, writing styles, and cultural elements. I have enjoyed participating and wish the best of luck to future essay participants!
Tessa Yang is a first-year MFA candidate in fiction writing at Indiana University. Her stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Clockhouse, Lunch Ticket, R.kv.r.y Quarterly and others. She enjoyed reading and responding to Kim Jung-hyuk’s “The Glass Shield” for its striking imagistic patterning, and for the author’s ability to comment on the place of art in society with good humor and grace. This summer, Tessa will start her position as associate editor of Indiana Review.
My name is Faith Chen, and I am currently a sophomore at New Trier High School. I enjoy playing the piano, playing the violin, playing competitive badminton, traveling to foreign places, eating noodle soup, and learning as much as I can. While math and science have always been my favorite subjects in school, I also enjoy studying classical Latin and reading English literature.
If an informational flyer for the Sejong Writing Competition hadn’t caught my eye during the hectic passing periods of my school, I would never have learned of this amazing opportunity to study Korean literature. While writing my essay, I was able to acquire a greater understanding of Korean culture as well as a clearer understanding of how different cultures view tragedy and failure.
Ultimately, I would like to thank my family, my friends, my teachers (both academic and musical), and Echo, my awesome dog, for continuing to support me as I go through life. I would especially like to thank the Sejong Cultural Society for providing me with such a culturally enriching experience.
My name is Seth Kim, and I am currently a sophomore at Blair Academy. My fellow students would likely describe me as being extremely active – I’m a tri-varsity athlete (cross-country and winter/spring track) and love spending my weekends indulging in squash, soccer, golf, or basketball with my friends. I am also President of The Oracle, my school’s online-only newspaper.
My long-term goal – to study and increase awareness of sarcomas, a rare type of soft-tissue and bone cancer – may not have a lot to do with South Korean literature, but I was nevertheless intrigued by “Waxen Wings”. My biggest takeaway from this competition is the newfound desire to be more adventurous with my future reading lists and familiarize myself with other non-English literature. By doing so, I hope to open my eyes to fresh perspectives and rich cross-cultural ideas.
My name is Melina Lopatin and I am a sophomore at Parkway North High School in St. Louis, Missouri. I am a competitive gymnast and I train 23 hours a week. My teacher showed me this short story and encouraged me to enter this competition. I was able to connect with the short story through gymnastics and through writing this essay, I reminded myself of the importance of balance in my life. I would like to thank my teacher for showing me this essay competition and my parents and sister for their continuous support in everything that I do!
Hello my name is Krystyna Alimurka! I’m a senior at Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga Tennessee. I heard about this contest through my English teacher, who has encouraged me and my classmates to participate for the past two years. Some of my hobbies include reading, writing, drawing, and participating in my school’s theater productions. I plan to attend the University of Texas at Dallas and get a bachelors degree in physics before getting a masters (or maybe even a doctorate) in astrophysics.
My name is Daniel Choe and I am a junior at Jericho High School in New York. Upon seeing a poster for the Sejong Writing Competition in my AP Composition classroom wall, I felt the tug of both my passion for writing and my South Korean roots to attempt it. As I wrote my essay on “Waxen Wings” by Ha Songnan, I appreciated the simple structure and vivid descriptions characteristic of Ha’s writing style. As for its plot, I was impressed by Birdie’s continuous optimism, despite the plague of failure and adversity that haunted her life.
Stemming from my passion for writing as a child, I constantly write fiction at home, and contribute to the newspaper and poetry magazine at school. I put my heart into each one of these pursuits, and hope to continue one or more of them as I transition into college and choose my career path in the near future. Though I hope that my life is not as laden with misfortune, I aspire to keep Birdie’s optimism when I inevitably journey beyond high school and encounter the challenging world of adulthood.
My name is Xunyin (Suzy) Xu and I’m an eighth grader at Whitney Young High School. I’m very involved in the school debate team, and in my free time I enjoy reading and writing short stories, although I find that most of weekends are spent with my headphones on and baking cookies. I first heard about this essay competition from my mom who saw the posting. This essay was a way for me to branch out from the school required papers and I was surprised at how much I liked the process. "Waxen Wings" was an odd and intriguing short story and its complexity meant there was a lot to analyze. It gave me a glimpse into Korean literary culture, and I think that I learned a lot both from the actual writing of the essay and from the story itself.
My name is Hope Galusha, and I am a sixth grader at Chadwick School in Southern California. In my free time I enjoy swimming, spending time with my friends, and working on graphic design. I hope to apply my passion for math to a potential career in engineering.
I originally heard about the SeJong Writing Competition through my humanities teacher. This competition taught me the value of patience in the writing process. I had moments of frustration, but continued to revisit my work. By the time I submitted my essay, I finally felt it was complete. It was such a learning experience!
My name is Dante Kirkman and I’m a student, writer, artist and boxer from Palo Alto, California. My creative work expresses my viewpoint and experience as a Black youth coming of age in 21st century America. My work, often on social justice themes, has been published, exhibited and awarded at the state, national and international level.
I am very interested in folklore and poetry, as these traditions figure strongly into the oral traditions of the American Black experience. For example, I have made a documentary on the Black lowrider experience in California, and I have written poetry based on the Harlem Renaissance. As a result, I was very excited to learn about the Sejong project, because it gave me an opportunity to combine these interests in an unexpected way, and explore a new genre of poetry. The fact that Sijo is a poem that is meant as a song really resonates with African-American traditions.
In terms of folklore, Brer Rabbit is the famous character from the folklore tradition of American slavery. So when I had the opportunity to learn about the story of his Korean rabbit counterpart, I was very excited to dig deeper in terms of the significance of these stories. In reflecting on them, it became clear to me that the powerless rabbit, who gets by on his wits, is an important symbol for oppressed or dispossessed people, who still aspire to their rightful place in society. The spirit of the rabbit represents the spirit of everyone who aspires to a better life.
The theme of a better life is a segue to my Sijo poem. My inspiration for the Sijo poem was my grandfather, who grew up in segregated New Orleans during the Great Depression with nothing but his faith in God and a resolve to make a better life. After serving in WWII in the Philippines, he settled in San Francisco and made a life for his young family in Menlo Park, California, on the red-lined Black side, east of the freeway. He worked as a mailman and raised five children, and now I am honoring his legacy as his grandson, and my older brother is the first to go to college.
On a final note, the Sejong Cultural Society has helped me expand my horizons to learn more about Korean culture, and for this I am grateful. I am also working on an environmental justice project sponsored by Samsung, a Korean company, and it is empowering to realize that the world is only as big or distant as we choose to make it.
My name is Jasmine Yi and I am an eighth grader at Windemere Ranch Middle School. I like reading, listening to music, and playing the cello. These activities are my favorite ways to pass the time because I feel like I am gaining inspiration, ideas, and encouraging my imagination and creativity. I hope that I will always have opportunities to be able to encourage my imagination and creativity throughout my life, no matter the method.
In multiple ways, I have gained a lot through this contest. The most important thing was that I managed to improve my process for gaining an idea. Personally, this is a priceless skill that I am glad that I have refined. For this, I am sincerely grateful to my parents for giving me the bravery and encouragement that I needed to participate in this contest.