2006 Sejong English Essay
Writing Competition
Due May 15, 2006

Heinz Insu Fenkl

Heinz Insu Fenkl

Heinz Insu Fenkl is an author, editor, translator, folklorist, and the director of the Interstitial Studies Institute at the State University of New York, New Paltz. His fiction includes Memories of My Ghost Brother, an autobiographical, novel about growing up in Korea as a bi-racial child in the '60s. He was named a Barnes and Noble "Great New Writer" and Pen/Hemingway finalist in 1997. He has also published short fiction in a variety of journals and magazines, as well as numerous articles on folklore and myth.

He lectures regularly for The Korea Society on a variety of topics including Korean animation, comics, literature, and folktales.

Fenkl was raised in Korea and (in his later years) Germany and the United States. Graduating from Vassar, he studied folklore and shamanism as a Fulbright Scholar in Korea and dream research under a grant from the University of California. Before his appointment to his current position at New Paltz, he taught a range of courses at Vassar, Bard, Sarah Lawrence, and Yonsei University (Korea), including Asian/American Folk Traditions, East Asian Folklore Korean Literature, Asian American Literature, and Native American Literature, in addition to Creative Writing.

He has published translations of Korean fiction and folklore, and is co-editor of Kori: The Beacon Anthology of Korean American Literature. He also writes regular columns on mythic topics for Realms of Fantasy magazine.

Heinz lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife, writer and artist Anne B. Dalton, and their daughter Isabella Myong-wol.

Junse Kim

Junse Kim has received a Pushcart Prize, a Faulkner Short Story Award, and the Philip Roth Residence in Creative Writing at Bucknell University.

His fiction and creative nonfiction have been published in the Ontario Review, ZYZZYVA, and Cimarron Review , as well as two anthologies: Pushcart Prize XXVII and Echoes Upon Echoes: New Korean American Writing.

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"The essays for the Sejong Writing Competition were creative in their approach to topic, thorough in research, and most importantly, full of heart. These youths have added a refreshing new tone to the collective American voice." ~ Junse Kim

Ann Lee

Ann Lee

Ann Lee has a Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University, and a B.A. from Harvard University. She has taught at the University of Southern California, U.C. Berkeley, Loyola Marymount and the University of Washington.

Currently she is teaching in the Department of Korean Language and Literature at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, Korea. Her book Yi Kwang-su and Modern Korean Literature: Mujong, was published by the Cornell East Asia Series in 2005.


"I found these essays to resonate with my own experiences. I too have had the agonizing experience of being new at school, of having to go to piano lessons, of worrying that my grades at school weren't good enough, of being told to stay home when I wanted to be with friends.

These essays reminded me of how, in the words of Anne LaMott in Bird by Bird,

'writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation.  They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored.'

I liked the way these essays took me to a place of remembrance." ~ Ann Lee

Ty Pak

Born in Korea in 1938, Ty Pak lived through his country’s liberation from Japan in 1945, its division under US and Soviet occupation, and the trauma of the Korean War, 1950-53, during which his father died. After getting his law degree at Seoul National University in 1961, he worked as a reporter for the English dailies, Korean Republic and Korea Times, until 1965 when he came to the US and got his Ph.D. in English at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, 1969. After a year’s post-doctoral work at UC Berkeley, he taught in the English Department, University of Hawaii, from 1970 to 1987, when he took early retirement to devote himself to writing.

Guilt Payment (1983), a collection of his 13 stories, critically acclaimed and widely adopted as a textbook at many US college campuses, is sold at such national chains as Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. His latest books, Cry Korea Cry, a novel, and Moonbay, a collection of 7 short stories previously published in various journals, have enjoyed rave reviews. His fiction explores the aspirations, idealism, and angst of Korean Americans, as they strive to carve out a destiny for themselves and their children in the American mainstream.

As one of his scholarly admirers has remarked, Ty Pak’s “prime merit ... is the unflinching confrontation with the voids and wounds, both psychic and physical, that drive and inhibit a generation of Koreans born to division, war and a homeland that is not whole either.”

His scholarly work in over 40 articles and monographs has appeared in Language, Lingua, Semiotica, Journal of Formal Logic, and other learned journals.

Ty Pak has been invited to speak by various universities, civic groups, and local high schools on Korean American literature. In 1984 he chaired the Korean American Literature Panel at UCLA and in 1989 he was on the Asian American Writers Series at UC Berkeley and Cal State Hayward. He spoke on Korean American literature at the Korean American Student Conferences, Harvard and MIT (1990) and Rutgers (1999). In 1991 he was Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Occidental College. In 1999 he spoke at UCLA, University of Hawaii, George Washington University, and University of Maryland, and in 2001 he gave a seminar on his fiction at the joint invitation of the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and the Korea Institute, Harvard University. In March 2002 he spoke on Asian American Literature at the Writing Department and Asian Students Association, Wellesley College, and on Korean Literature in January 2003 at MIT.

Married and with three children, Ty Pak now lives in Honolulu, Hawaii.

"Judging for the essay competition was a positive and rewarding experience. . . . . . . .

My only regret is that we could not give prizes and honorable mentions to every contestant. They were all good, had a point to make, often a powerful and moving message to impart, and should feel proud of their accomplishments and not feel discouraged by the omission in any way. While joining us in congratulating the winners and wishing them god speed, I want the rest of the contestants to adopt a tolerant, even superior attitude: some kind of ranking had to be established and the standards or determinants were, like everything else in life, personal, quirky, even arbitrary. Keep up the good work, everybody! " ~ Ty Pak , read the full comment

2006 1st Annual Sejong English Essay Writing Competition

© 2006 Sejong Cutlural Society

Contact: sejong@sejongsociety.org