2019 Sejong Writing Competition

Sijo Winners


  Adult Division Pre-college Division
First Place Lily Daniels
Chesapeake, VA
Old Dominion University
sijo
Sofia Liaw
Fayetteville, NY
12th grade, Mr. Matthew Phillips
Jamesville Dewitt High School
sijo
Second Place Kaitlyn Jurewicz
Dover, DE
sijo
Hye In Lee
Cresskill, NJ
11th grade, Mr. Richard Weems
Bergen County Academies
sijo
Third Place Ha Young Shin
Centreville, VA
Georgetown University
sijo
Sophie Baltzan
Lakewood, CO
9th grade, Ms. Deb Holland
D'Evelyn Jr/Sr High School
sijo
Dorthea Kuemmerle
Chicago, IL
10th grade, Ms. Lucy Luna
Taft High School
sijo
Honorable Mention

Friend of the Pacific Rim Award
Kimberly Rensch
Fargo, ND
sijo
Kate Dorazio
Jamesville, NY
9th grade, Mr. Matthew Phillips
Jamesville Dewitt High School
sijo
Richard Sasso
Northlake, IL
sijo
Kaitlyn Laufenberg
Hartland, WI
12th grade, Ms. Elizabeth Jorgensen
Arrowhead Union High School
sijo
Emmanuelle Sasson
Weston, FL
sijo
Katie Lee
Long Grove, IL
10th grade, Ms. Christina Kim
Adlai E. Stevenson High School
sijo
Ian Saiza
San Antonio, TX
7th grade, Ms. Michelle Smith
Connally Middle School
sijo
Erin Vanevenhoven
Sussex, WI
11th grade, Ms. Elizabeth Jorgensen
Arrowhead Union High School
sijo

Adult division

Lily Daniels

first place

My name is Lily Daniels, and I am a rising sophomore at Old Dominion University. I am currently majoring in English with an emphasis in professional writing and minoring in Chinese studies. For the past three years, I have fenced at Tidewater Fencing Club, and my other hobbies include camping, hiking, knitting, and reading.

I learned about this competition through a flier hanging on a wall in the ODU English Department. While I enjoy reading and writing poetry, this was the first time I had encountered sijo. I learned a lot about Korean culture and writing sijo from this experience. My favorite part about writing sijo is the flexibility and creativity within the rules. I am thankful to the Sejong Cultural Society for holding the writing competition and increasing awareness about Korean Culture.

The inspiration for my sijo comes from my personal experience. I was left outside of a Family Planning Commission building in China when I was one week old. Even though I love my adoptive family and remember nothing about my first year, it was difficult for me to come to terms with being adopted. There are so many unanswerable questions about my past. Writing is one of the ways I wrestle with these questions and grow from my experiences. I hope that by sharing my writing others are able to understand and relate to my perspective.

read sijo
back to top

Kaitlyn Jurewicz

second place

My name is Kaitlyn Jurewicz and I am a 10th grade English teacher at MOT Charter High School in Middletown, DE. My hobbies include teaching and performing for Unbranded Dance Academy, reading, writing, and participating in competitive trivia. I have always enjoyed writing structured poetry because every form presents its own unique set of challenges. While writing this poem, I was inspired by the inherent beauty of nature, as well as the feeling of freedom I experience while dancing. This was my first time writing sijo and I feel very proud to have received a second place award! Thank you to the Sejong Cultural Society for continuing to offer unique writing opportunities and inspiring me to explore genres outside of my comfort zone. 

read sijo
back to top

Ha Young Shin

third place

Ha Young Shin is a 1.5 generation Korean-American immigrant who is a financial analyst by day and an evening MBA student by night. In the future, she hopes to author a book and to start an educational non-profit to empower women and youth from underserved backgrounds. She also hopes to go on missions with her husband, whom she recently married.

In her free time, she loves to sing and play the guitar, ukulele, or the piano. Her personal hero is Jesus Christ and she hopes that she’ll exemplify even a tiny glimpse of His love through her life.

Before this competition, Ha Young did not know what a sijo was. Having left the motherland at such a young age, she is grateful for this opportunity through which she was able to learn more about Korean literature, which she finds both poignant and powerful.

read sijo
back to top

Kimberly Rensch

honorable mention

Kimberly Rensch is a middle school language arts facilitator in Fargo, North Dakota, where she lives with her husband and dogs. She is a teacher leader in the local National Writing Project affiliate and leads an extra-curricular writing group for middle school students.

read sijo
back to top

Richard Sasso

honorable mention

I’m an English teacher at Hinsdale South High school in Darien, Illinois. My interests include literature, film, and food studies. I’m also involved with my church, Unity Temple in Oak Park. My future goals are to write more sijo for myself and others. One of my personal heroes among many is Argentine poet, writer and critic Jorge Luis Borges. My poem was inspired by my studies of the novel “The Martian Chronicles” by Ray Bradbury. I would like to thank the Sejong Cultural Society for giving me so many great opportunities to study this gem of a literary genre. And a shout out to Professor Sam Weller Columbia College in Chicago who got my creative writing bug inspired!

read sijo
back to top

Pre-college division

Sofia Liaw

first place

My name is Sofia Liaw and I'm currently a senior at Jamesville-Dewitt High School. I will attend Wesleyan University in the fall with the intention of majoring in Romance Languages and perhaps English as well. In my free time, I enjoys studying languages, writing, and learning about personal finance. I don't know quite yet what I want to do for a career but I would like to have a career that includes writing and learning about other people's lives and experiences. My heroes are slam poets Sierra DeMulder and Olivia Gatwood. I've been entering this competition since my sophomore year of high school thanks to my favorite English teacher Mr. Matthew Phillips who has encouraged me to write and seek out feedback.

read sijo
back to top

Sophie Baltzan

third place tie

My name is Sophie Baltzan. I am 15 years old and attend D’Evelyn Jr. Sr. High School in Lakewood, Colorado. I am on my school’s volleyball team, swim team, and tennis team. I love to play sports and spend my time outside either hiking or paddle boarding when I’m not in school. I love to sing and play the guitar. Before this competition I had always found my writing to be mandatory and uninteresting. But once we got the assignment in my eastern civilization class I was fully engaged. My teacher, Mrs.Holland, asked our class to write a Sijo poem to conclude our unit about Korea. I thought for most of the class period before I started writing and I decided to go with an analogy for an everyday thing that everyone does. I wrote this poem not to win a competition but to see how far I could push myself with my writing skills. And I am so glad that I received this assignment to show me that my dreams of going into journalism might be a reality. I am so honored to be recognized along with so many other incredible writers and I want to thank Mrs.Holland for being an inspiring teacher who always wants us to grow and succeed. I also want to thank my mom and sister for always believing in me and inspiring me to do my best.

read sijo
back to top

Dorthea Kuemmerle

third place tie

My name is Dorthea Kuemmerle. I am a sophomore at William Howard Taft High School. I have always loved exploring different ways of writing, especially different ways of writing poetry. I also love to expand my knowledge of both Korean culture and the Korean language. My amazing teacher Mrs. Luna came to the class with the idea of writing sijo poems and taught us how to write one and the history of them. After I wrote my poem I decided to submit it to the writing competition.

I have played the piano all of my life and I also spend a lot of time hiking and being outside. The combination of those two things inspired me to create the sijo I did. I have always experienced that music can convey a number of things whether it is a scene or an emotion. I decided to try and find a way to express my love of poetry, music, and nature, and the sijo was perfect. In writing the sijo I was able to write a poem in which I showcased the transformative nature of the arts and nature.

I am truly honored to have been chosen for third place out of so many people. I would like to also thank my teacher Mrs. Luna as she was the one who taught me how to write a sijo and helped me to better understand the process of writing a sijo. I will continue to expand my knowledge of Korean culture in the future.

read sijo
back to top

Kate Dorazio

honorable mention

My name is Kate Dorazio and I am a freshman at Jamesville Dewitt High School in Syracuse, New York. I enjoy playing sports, but my favorite is softball. My goal is to go to college to play softball and hopefully make a career out of it. Writing has never really interested me until this year. When I got a notification from my creative writing teacher that there was a Sijo competition I thought it was just another one of those competitions that are next to impossible. Then once I read through what a sijo was, I knew this is something I could do, what's the worst that could happen? When I started brainstorming I had a million different ideas but I wanted to write about something that connected to my life. In softball and life in general you fail, and its important to not compare yourself to others. This is something I find very important, so I thought it was best to write about this.

read sijo
back to top

Kaitlyn Laufenberg

honorable mention

My name is Kaitlyn Laufenberg and I am a senior at Arrowhead High School. I love to spend time with my friends outside of school. Currently, I am preparing to go off to college to study Criminal Justice. I am excited to pursue my dream of becoming a criminal lawyer one day. I have always been interested in helping others and can’t wait to do that for a living.

This competition pushed my creativity. My English teacher, Ms. Jorgensen, was a huge help in digging deep into my creative side that has been hard for me to find. I am so grateful for her help and also to have been part of this competition!

read sijo
back to top

Katie Lee

honorable mention

My name is Katie Lee and I am a sophomore at Adlai E. Stevenson High School.

While I enjoy reading and writing poetry in my spare time, sijo remained very unfamiliar to me (in fact, I have never even heard of it before seeing the competition flyer!). I viewed sijo as a fresh opportunity not only to experiment with its different rhythms and twists, but also to reclaim a piece of my Korean culture, and for that I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that the Sejong Cultural Society has provided.

read sijo
back to top

Erin Vanevenhoven

honorable mention

I am currently a junior at Arrowhead High School. Some of my hobbies include track and field, playing the flute and piccolo, and reading. I'm not sure what I want to do in my future but social work interests me. I have seen close relatives suffer the torture of the foster care system and how unjust it is, so I want to work at making it a little more bearable.

I really enjoyed writing this sijo poem and a few others I wrote in my creative writing class because of the format. The sijo structure gave me freedom to write about what I wanted without worrying about how to write it. While writing my sijo poem, I learned how to think outside the box and that there are many different ways to express what I want to say.

read sijo
back to top