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The Research Center for Korean Community at Queens College (RCKC), in collaboration with the Korea Society, is organizing an English-language Essay Contest on South Korea and Korean Culture. This contest is open to undergraduates of Korean and non-Korean students, particularly because there have been major changes in Korea and perceptions of Korea during this cohort’s lifetime. In the last twenty to thirty years, South Korea has gone from being perceived as a war-torn and impoverished country to a highly-influential economic and cultural G-20 nation. South Korea’s economic coming-of-age, along with the emergence of hanryu (the Korean wave, which refers to the increasing international popularity of Korean culture and entertainment), has firmly established it as a nation worthy of international consideration. This is quite a change from the negative connotations (Korean War, multitudes of orphans) associated with South Korea thirty to forty years ago. This essay contest has been organized, in part, to gauge Americans’ and Korean Americans’ perceptions and insights about South Korea.

● Essay Questions

There are two separate groups of questions: one for non-Korean participants and the other for Korean-American participants. Korean Americans include U.S.-born Koreans and 1.5-generation Koreans (those who moved to the U.S. at fifteen or younger). The questions are actually very similar, but slightly different, so please pay close attention to the wording of the questions.

  • For Non-Korean Participants
    1. How has the global Korean economic, diplomatic, cultural, and/or athletic influence over the past fifteen years or so changed your perception of Korea and/or Korean culture in a positive direction?
    2. What aspects of Korean society or Korean culture are you most familiar with and why do you like them?

  • For Korean-American Participants (U.S.-born and 1.5-generation)
    1. How has the global Korean economic, diplomatic, cultural, and/or athletic influence over the past fifteen years or so enhanced your Korean or Korean-American identity? Compared to ten years ago, do you feel more proud of your Korean background?
    2. What aspects of Korean society or Korean culture are you most familiar with and why do you like them?

● Guidelines

Write a well-organized English-language essay to answer the two interrelated questions that are listed in the previous section. The essay should have its own title that reflects its main theme or content, and should be further divided into a few sections with section titles (these should be in bold font). The essay should be ten to twelve pages in length, double-spaced, and typed using twelve-point Times New Roman font. Two separate groups of undergraduate students are eligible to participate in this essay contest: (1) younger-generation Korean-American college students (1.5-generation Koreans who immigrated to the U.S. at the age of fifteen or younger and U.S.-born Koreans) and (2) non-Korean college students. Graduate and post-baccalaureate students are not eligible for this contest. Please do not write two separate essays to answer the two questions; answers to both questions should be integrated into one essay. If it is difficult to integrate the two answers, you may answer the first question in the first part of your essay and the second question in the second part. Be advised that there is a $20 registration fee for this contest. Please submit an electronic copy of your essay and the application form to rckc.qc@gmail.com, and a hard copy of your essay and the application form, as well as the $20 registration fee to RCKC. Make checks or money orders payable to Research Center Korean Community. The mailing address is:

The Research Center for Korean Community
Queens College, CEP Hall 2, Room 9
65-30 Kissena Boulevard
Flushing, NY 11367


The Deadline for Submission of Essays: August 31, 2013.

Criteria for Evaluation of the Essays
  1. Familiarity with and knowledge of Korea and Korean Culture (30%)
  2. Content: Interesting Insights and Observations (30%)
  3. Writing: Style and Proficiency (20%)
  4. Organization of the Essay (20%)

Prizes and Certificates

Prizes will be awarded to twenty people, in total. The Research Center for Korean Community will select the ten best essays from both the non-Korean pool and the Korean-American pool. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top five essay writers from each group. Although the next five best essays from each section will not be awarded cash prizes, they will receive certificates of achievement and the essays will be posted on the Center’s Korean American Data Bank and will also be published in an edited book (along with the top five essays from each pool). Additionally, there will be an awards ceremony and a presentation of the prize-winning essays at the Korea Society (November 2013). Prize-winning essays will be the property of the Research Center for Korean Community. After publication, the publisher will have rights to the essays. The prizes are as follows:

Korean-American Participants:
One Gold Prize ($700), One Silver Prize ($400), and Three Bronze Prizes ($200 each); The next five best essays will be awarded Certificates of Achievement, and will be presented at the awards ceremony at the Korea Society and included in an edited book.

Non-Korean Undergraduate Participants:
The same as above.

Due Date for Submissions: August 31, 2013
Date for Announcement of Prize Winners: October 15, 2013
Date for Award Ceremony and Reading of Essays at Korea Society: November 2013 (exact date TBA)
Date for Publication: TBA
Contact # 718-997-2810 ; rckc.qc@gmail.com

Click here to download Instructions

Click here to download Application Form