2022 Essay Competition Rules and Information

Deadline: March 31, 2022 (11:59pm CDT) - CLOSED

Competition Closed

Essay Division Winners | Winners Essays | Judges


Adult division (age 19-30 years)

Topic:"Symbiosis theory" (2019) by Choyeop Kim

Prompts: This is a story in which the ideas serve as the action and weave the early mysteries into thematic questions at the end. What are some of the questions that this story presents and how do they weave together to further the theme? Since the story itself is speculative (SF stands for “speculative fiction” as well as “science fiction”), feel free to be speculative in your essay, but be sure to make concrete reference to specific details in the story in your discussion.

Senior division (grade 9th - 12th)

Topic: "The Girl in the Cylinder” (2019) by Choyeop Kim

Prompts: The story might be classified as dystopian, but it is also a story of an unlikely friendship. As the plot unfolds, it concretely illustrates many abstract ideas, as Kim says. What are some of these abstract ideas that get dramatized? How does Kim deliver a thematic message through the drama of this story? Is there a particular message to be found in the story, or is it more a matter of emotion and tone?

Junior essay division (grade 8 and younger)

Folktales index

Korea has a rich tradition of storytelling, and its folktales reflect important aspects of its history and culture. Many of the old historical texts are full of local legends and myths. Folk tales can be entertaining and educational, but they can also strike a deep chord in our personal lives, and many Korean folktales demonstrate the universal tragedies and triumphs of daily life in the family.

Topics (choose one): Each topic refers to the list of Korean folktales found on our 2022 folktales index page. Please make sure to select a folktale under the "2022 Essay Competition" list. When writing your essay, please be sure to include specific references to the tale you chose to write about.

  1. Write an interpretation of a folk tale of your choice. Why do you think it was created? Which character do you relate to best?
  2. If you could change one of these folk tales, what would you change and why?


Divisions: adult (age 19 - 30 years), senior (grade 9th - 12th), and junior (grade 8th and younger)

  • Essays must not exceed 1,000 words in length.
  • Junior division students should refer to our folktales index when choosing a folktale to write about and select one of the stories listed there. Please choose only one topic and folktale to write about.
  • Entries must be submitted through our website.
  • One entry per category per contestant is permitted. (Contestants are permitted one essay and one sijo entry.)
  • Essay division age limits do not have a lower limit, but the sijo adult division is limited to age 19 and older. If a pre-college student would like to compete in the adult essay division and pre-college sijo division, s/he must create two separate application accounts.
  • All entries must be written in English.
  • Contestants' names cannot be written in their entries.
  • We reserve the right to use all submitted pieces in future publications of the Sejong Cultural Society with no compensation to the authors.
  • We reserve the right to not award any prizes.
  • Winners are generally announced by early June. This estimate is subject to change depending on the number of total entries received; a more accurate estimate will be posted on our website soon after the competition deadline.
  • Adult division: First ($1,000), Second ($750), Third ($500)
  • Senior division: First ($500), Second ($400), Third ($300)
  • Junior division: First ($300), Second ($200), Third ($100)
  • Honorable mention (for all divisions listed above): Friends of Pacific Rim Awards ($50 each)
  • Winners' works may be published in the Korea Times Chicago or the Korean Quarterly or Azalea: A Journal of Korean Literature and Culture, published by the Korea Institute at Harvard University.