Winners of the KTLIT-Catch The Wave Essay Contest!

KTLIT LogoAfter over a month of accepting entries, it is now time to publicly announce the winner in the KTLIT – Catch The Wave Early Spring, Mid-Summer (remember, a book that cost over $300 at the time the contest started and now ranges from $214 t0 $348 on Amazon) essay contest. We received over 20 essays and all of them were quite good. They were so good, in fact, that we decided to expand the pool of prizes and also give prizes for essay-writers who were writing in a second language. This eventually expanded to giving a gold, silver, and bronze in each category, that is native-English writer and English as a second language writer.  The big winner receives Early Spring, Mid-Winter, while the other winners will be contacted privately to choose from a list of alternate prizes. Over the next week, I will post some of the winning essays, so KTLIT followers can see what we were looking for (Because we have another excellent contest coming up in the near future!)

With that said, here are the winners:


In third place is Patrick Lauchang, who wrote an excellent  essay titled UNDERSTANDING KOREAN CULTURE THROUGH LITERATURE. This essay began with Korean history, broke down Korean culture, and eventually  got to Korean literature and why he wanted the book. That “eventually” was what kept Patrick from a higher position, he focused on things outside of Korean modern literature, and in only 300 words that’s tough. But it was

In second place is regular Catch The Wave listener Aneta Wieczorek. Aneta did a brilliant job of starting with Korean culture and quickly hopping to literature, noting that it can be a key to understanding the larger culture as a whole.  Aneta also demonstrated AWESOME taste in the works she already has read and for that she gets second place. (e.g. I have the right to destroy myself by Kim Young-ha or Tongue by Jo Kyung-ran), some move deeply (e.g. Please look after Mom by Shin Kyung-sook). Other try to deal with changes in society and literature (e.g. Three Generations by Yom Sang-seop, A Day in the Life of Kubo the Novelist by Pak Tae-won).

Before I name the best essay in the English language category, let’s look at the runners-up in the Second-Language category.

In third place is Yew Pei Juan, a student from Malaysia wrote a great essay and tugged at my heartstrings with a plea that Korean literature was just to expensive to buy. Yew Pei Juan came across as a very serious student of literature, and for this reason, Yew Pei Juan comes in third among the second-language writers.

Second place goes to Heidy Dwiyanti Utami  from Indonesia who is interested in all things about Korean culture and is also trying to learn Korean language and literature. I think I can dig up an appropriate prize

And now.. the big winners…!

The gold medal on the native-speaker side goes to Grace Jung, and this was almost unfair, which I’ll talk about in a second. On the second-language side our winner is Manuel J. Radislao from the Philippines.

So, who is the big winner?

It’s Grace Jung by birth a Korean who admitted that she kind of had to be forced into Korean literature. Still, since she was forced, she has been remarkable, reading Korean literature, meeting its translators, and visiting Korea on a Fullbright Scholarship. Finally, she became a translator. So, reader, scholar, translator, and writer of a brilliant essay, the copy of Early Spring, Mid-Summer goes to Grace Jung. Here is an excerpt from her essay:

I purchased Modern Korean Fiction: An Anthology edited by Bruce Fulton and Youngmin Kwon. The stories I read began a meaningful journey for me. The content, which I see a continuation of in contemporary Korean cinema today, was pleasantly shocking, and they stirred a curiosity in me to know more about the people’s day-to-day, which was mostly in pain and anguish. I sensed a close and private connection to my homeland through the characters.

Manuel J Radislao did an outstanding job as well. He was introduced to Korean literature by a Korean friend. Manuel also did an excellent bit of argument about how Korean literature was in fact relevant to all of Asia. So, good job there Manuel, and we’ll be contacting you.

Great job by everyone involved, and as I mentioned above, we’ll be having another contest in a month or so!




3 thoughts on “Winners of the KTLIT-Catch The Wave Essay Contest!

  1. The standards for English as first and second language seem problematic. If it’s official language in their country, should it be regarded as first language? If they are immigrants and now citizens in English-speaking countries, should they be regarded as native speakers? Indonesia is definitely not a country with English as first language, but Malaysia is a Commonwealth member of British Empire; the Philippines is a former colony of the US, and English is one of their official languages. The boundaries become more haphazard as the winner is a Korean-US citizen. Well, English makes the world closer and complicated… Isn’t it better to divide it in a little politically incorrect (more frank and honest, though) way?
    Anglosphere (bar White) Vs. the Others..

  2. Dear Left,

    To me it’s a bit like the famous description of pornography by Justice Potter Steward, “I can’t define (it), but when I see it I can recognize it.”^^

    From a Korean perspective, and this is where I live, I pretty much define “official” English along Korean government lines – from the 7 “main” English-language countries. Perhaps this is unfair, but it is neat and clean. Multiple official languages (Philippines) don’t qualify in my mind as the English in such countries tends to be pidginized/non-standard and I’m looking for academic English. I understand that this is also an argument one could make about Hawaii.^^

    As to Korean-American? That’s irrelevant to me, as any so-called “hyphenated American” was raised in the US and that is the de-facto English-language Empire at this moment. I’m old fashioned in that I expect someone raised in a country to learn its language, whether that language is official or not.

    With that said, it is completely true that “English makes the world closer and complicated,” and in this case I chose to simplify things because the Anglosphere is far more contentious to define than to take the Korean immigration standard, which while partly arbitrary, is quite easy to demarcate.

    Plus, it allowed me to declare more winners.^^

    Thanks for your comment!


  3. Thank you, Charles and KTLIT. I don’t disagree that it was almost unfair; my 양심 almost threw up.
    But the book will not go to waste with me, I assure you. Hope this contest and contests like these help all our translators get more publications out there.

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