2022 Sejong Writing Competition

Winning Entries


Adult division
first place - Martin Willitts, Jr
second place - Stephanie Malley
third place - Ben Griffis

Pre-college division
first place - Gabrielle Wincherhern
second place - Natalie Vogt
third place - Cathy Nguyen
honorable mentions


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.

first place - Hannah Kim
second place - Matthew Mills

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?

first place - Hannah Adams
second place - Elena Davis
third place - Emerson Kang

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?

first place - Mason Raymond
second place - Ethan Leem
third place - Anusha Bharadvaj


The Sejong Writing Competition is supported in part by grants from the LTI Korea, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.