2020 Sejong Writing Competition
Winning Entries :: Sijo
That sweater, so warm and soft – yet full of holes, hangs unworn.
“Let’s toss it!” Downsizing means tough decisions. “No one wears it.”
“Wait!” I cry. “Grandma made that when I was young. It still fits.”
Faces behind colorful scarves,
skaters glide on the frozen ice.
A young pair practices: looping, spinning, spiraling—breathless On the rink, masked workers stack bodies, covered by sheets of white.
Neighborhoods, bereft of neighbors. Teeming cities, bare.
We orbit our own lives. Joined in isolation. All, alone.
We see how our fates are interwoven, just as they unravel.
Warm Sunday. “Let’s take a ride. Get in the car. Buckle up, kids!”
Wheels turn fast. “Sharp turn ahead.” Smiles turn to screams as the car rolls.
That’s a fun rollercoaster--scary and thrilling. “Ride again?”
We watch the fox, the dog and I, loping along the wooded path.
We pause our stroll, she stops as well, sitting down to regard us.
Then, bored with local wildlife, she turns around and heads for home.
but today, I hear
"Did you eat?" Dad asks again,
picking me up from the airport.
I grew up wishing he'd say
"I love you"
like my friends' dads did
I hear his question as his way of
As a child, among all trees,
the redbud pleased me most.
Years later, we planted its image
in our back yard.
Cat rests there in a willow basket;
its old roots cradle her bones.
A hundred thousand love-filled letters I have written for you.
Tonight, my pen runs dry, trapping my words within my mind.
Why do I still stoke the flame that I know will never warm me?
Sunday in the Park with Me.
Picture-perfect people relax in the shimmering Sunday sun.
Pink parasols twirl against an azure sky and lush grass.
I step back from the canvas, wishing I could jump into the frame.
My sister strikes me across the face
and I wish for a brother.
She steals the remote and
I wish I were an only child.
But I wish for my sister back
when she goes to college.
Inhale, exhale, healthy newborns;
a mother watches through the glass.
Angelic little humans:
so precious, so fortunate.
She then walks to her fading newborn,
why is this life so unfair?
Air felt lighter, food tasted better, music more upbeat, sun brighter.
Not seeing my brother in two years, I remained eager.
But he came home in a plane, in a pine box, covered in a flag.
The smile shines on her face, brighter than the sun, the color of love.
She always had the answer no matter the question.
I asked grandma why she had to leave us. "It was time," she said.
In Middle School
I thought that beauty meant
discarding my Korean self.
I wished to leave my yellow skin,
but my umma comforted me;
she said, "Yellow is the color
of forsythias, bright and beautiful."
My skin is light, my eyes are hazel and my hair is blonde
I'm one of a kind, But it is not what it seems
I am just as colored as my mother's blueberry black skin.