Arrowhead Student Results of Sijo Competition

Every year, The Sejong Cultural Society (SCS) holds a Sijo Competition for both adults and pre-college students. Sijo is a Korean form of poetry divided thematically and structurally by line and syllable count. Out of the six winners in the pre-college 2023 contest, three were from Arrowhead. 


Siya Sinha, a senior, won second place and $400 for her poem Man of the House. Both Tanner Harju, a senior and author of Fixing Mistakes, and Aidan Mickol, senior and author of Secrets, got honorable mentions and $50 each. These winners were announced in early May.


Sinha wrote this sijo: “My brother complains that he is the only boy in the house– / Claiming that it would be nice to have a male presence for once. / He looks full of regret now, Mom brought her new boyfriend to dinner.


My sijo, Man of the House, was inspired by my real life situation, and how I’ve always wondered how my brother feels about being the only male in our household,” Sinha said.


When my mom started dating someone, I wondered how he felt about that too. I wrote many sijos in class but this one was my first ever draft,” Sinha said.


According to SCS, the guidelines were to write one Sijo in English on a topic of the contestant’s choice. Titles were not required. The participants had to participate in their age-appropriate division, which was separated into Adult Division and Pre-College. Participants could only submit one entry and all entries were to be submitted through the website.


Harju wrote this sijo: “Creative, my mind wanders, finds the answer, and shuts down. / Knowledgeable, problems arise that I can solve, I feel smart. / Book problems have correct answers; personal problems don’t seem to.”


The Sejong Cultural Society is a non-profit organization founded in 2004 and based in Chicago, Illinois. 


The website says, “The Sejong Cultural Society strives to advance awareness and understanding of Korea’s cultural heritage among people in the United States by reaching out to the younger generations through contemporary creative and fine arts. Through this, the rich culture behind Korea’s colorful history will be accessible to people of any ethnicity and nationality while being a unique part of the larger, more familiar Western culture, and that such harmonizing of the two cultures will create a better understanding of them.”


SCS offers three different competitions. The Music Competition encourages young musicians and introduces traditional Korean music to them. The Writing Competition is open to pre-college students and young adults, the Sejong Writing Competition is divided into two categories: Essay category which  is focused on Korean culture and history and the Sijo competition which brings the sijo to a modern English speaking audience. SCS also offers a Music Composition Competition that encourages composers to explore the unique elements of traditional Korean music and incorporate them into their compositions.


“create a bond between friends that transcends all other bonds. / have power and can test the true character of a person. / can destroy relationships before you can even blink an eye,” Mickol wrote in his sijo, Secrets.


Pacific Rim Foundation is one of the sponsors for this competition. The foundation recognizes and celebrates the achievements of our community’s excellent young people.


According to Pacific Rim’s website, “their efforts in their personal goals and their public contributions, these students give us reason for optimism. They are committed to encouraging the cultivation of and motivating life long learning. PRF is dedicated to supporting our local school and students and by this offering encouraging families to stay in our communities knowing that these sorts of opportunities are available right here.”