2019 Sejong Writing Competition

Winning Entries


Adult division
first place - Lily Daniels
second place - Kaitlyn Jurewicz
third place - Ha Young Shin
honorable mentions

Pre-college division
first place - Sofia Liaw
second place - Hye In Lee
third place tie - Sophie Baltzan
third place tie - Dorthea Kuemmerle
honorable mentions


Adult prompt: "O. Cuniculi" by Pyun Hye-young
Along with Han Kang and Jo Kyung-ran, Pyun Hye-young is among a group of new "international" Korean women writers whose work is characterized by its exploration of the darker aspects of contemporary society. Pyun is often compared to Western writers like Kafka and Camus, and to the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. "O. Cuniculi" is a very representative Pyun story, which can be read on many levels as allegory, psychological realism, social criticism, and even surrealism. What is it about the story that you find most powerful, and what insight does the story provide into Korean society (or society in general)? You may draw comparisons with other writers or provide a close reading of the story on its own terms. Be sure to explain the reason for your interpretation or comparison.

first place - Young Eun Kim
second place - Isabella Cho
third place - Rachel Park

Senior prompt: An Appointment with His Brother by Yi Mun-yol
Although it was written in 1994, Yi Mun-yol’s An Appointment with His Brother is still highly relevant today, particularly with North Korea’s almost continuous presence in international news headlines. What does the novella show you about North Korea, its culture, and its people that is different from what you imagined from the media coverage of North Korea? What does it tell you about the complex issue of reunification and the potential problems it raises for both North and South? Given what you learn from reading the novella, how would you describe its underlying central theme? Use examples from the text and from the media to illustrate your points.

first place - Michael Athanassiadis
second place - Allison Lee
third place - Rachel Hur

Junior prompt: Read a Korean folktale and write about one of three topics — a) your interpretation of the folktale and which character you relate to best, or b) why you disagree with it and what you would change.

first place - Kevin Sohn
second place - Enni Harlan
third place - Anderson Lai