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Korea Times North Korea Essay Contest


• It’s called Time’s Up.

Hundreds of actresses, entertainment executives and insiders announced a sprawling initiative to fight sexual harassment in Hollywood and in other workplaces.

The group also seeks to defuse criticism that the spotlight on the #MeToo movement has been dominated by the accusers of high-profile men, while the travails of working-class women have been overlooked.


• As midnight struck from East to West, revelers welcomed 2018 with fireworks, festivities, dancing and countless weddings. Our photo editors captured some of the celebrations.

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, used his speech to reach out to South Korea, agreeing to send a delegation for the Winter Olympics while claiming the ability to make a nuclear strike on the U.S. (Analysts said he was trying to sow discord between Washington and Seoul.)

Our Berlin correspondent dissected Chancellor Angela Merkel’s New Year’s speech. President Emmanuel Macron of France addressed immigration and populism in his address, as Ms. Merkel did.


• A Danish biotechnology company is trying to fight climate change, one laundry load at a time, by improving detergents.

China is building a city from scratch in the middle of a Kazakh desert as part of its ambitious plan to restore old overland trade routes to Europe.

• Rupert Murdoch’s decision to sell most of 21st Century Fox has many wondering what the future holds for him and the two sons who seemed on the cusp of taking over his vast empire.

• Intelligence agencies have known for some time that security products like Kaspersky Lab’s antivirus software can be a powerful spy tool.

• Marijuana shops have opened in California, inaugurating what some say will become the world’s largest market for legalized recreational cannabis.

Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

In the News

• Romania is bracing for a tumultuous month. Legislation that critics say would weaken the judiciary’s independence is awaiting the signature of President Klaus Iohannis, who has opposed such changes. [The New York Times]

• Israel’s right wing is signaling its intention to doom hopes for a two-state solution to the conflict with the Palestinians. [The New York Times]

• Poland hosts North Korean laborers, showing how difficult it is to sever the nuclear pariah state from the global economy. [The New York Times]

• A powerful winter storm caused widespread power outages in Brittany, France. It is expected to move across the country and toward Germany overnight. [Associated Press]

• Italy, Hungary and the Czech Republic are among the European countries voting in potentially pivotal elections this year. Here’s a look at the votes ahead and recent polling. [Politico]

• In Germany, a new law on hate speech on the internet has entered into force. It has raised questions about freedom of expression. [Deutsche Welle]

• A former cage fighter in London has earned global attention for his method of rehabilitating Islamist militants. [The New York Times]

• A widening debate about slaughtering rules pits religious freedom against animal rights in the Netherlands. [The New York Times]

• A Belgian entrepreneur has handed out origami-style cardboard tents to homeless people in Brussels, where fabric tents are banned. [The New York Times]

Smarter Living

Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.

• Start the new year by relaxing and centering yourself.

• Tips for dealing with a cold or the flu. (Honey and ginger ale, among other things.)

• Recipe of the day: Cook black-eyed peas with collard greens for New Year’s good fortune.


• The New York Times has a new publisher in A. G. Sulzberger. Ask him questions here. (And here is his introductory letter to readers.)

• In soccer news, the superiority of the Premier League’s top six teams has undermined its reputation as one of the most competitive leagues in the world.

• The BBC, once a bastion of British English, now sees an opportunity in West African pidgin, spoken by more than 75 million people.

• Charming villages. Inventive meals. A gorgeous glacier to hike. What’s not to like in Norway?

• This year will be an exciting year for astronomy geeks.

Among the highlights: a new rocket from Elon Musk and SpaceX, and possible moon landings by India, China and private companies.

Back Story

We begin today on a high kick.

The Rockettes closed their annual holiday season run on Monday, their 85th year at Radio City Music Hall in New York. But their famous kicklines are only a part of the storied history of one of New York’s cultural cornerstones.

Opened on Dec. 27, 1932, Radio City was “the largest temple of entertainment of its kind in the world,” The Times (somewhat breathlessly) proclaimed.

It was part of John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s plan to revive New York after the Great Depression by building a “city within a city” that would provide jobs for New Yorkers and convert a neighborhood known as “the speakeasy belt” into a commercial hub.

Rockefeller partnered with the Radio Corporation of America to develop the 6,200-seat theater, and the building’s design became a beacon of the art deco form.

The theater has hosted everything from the MTV Video Music Awards to more than 700 movie premieres, including “To Kill a Mockingbird,” starring Gregory Peck, a former Radio City usher.

Mayor-elect John O’Brien declared the music hall as “the greatest achievement of the theatrical world” and marked “a new era in the history of New York.”

Remy Tumin contributed reporting.


This briefing was prepared for the European morning and is updated online. Browse past briefings here.

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Continue reading the main story

Essay Competition Rules and Information

Deadline: March 31, 2018 (11:59pm CST)


Adult division (age 25 and younger) & senior division (grade 12 and younger)

An Appointment with His Brother by Yi Mun-yol (also known as Meeting with My Brother)

Topic: Although it was written in 1994, Yi Mun-yol’s An Appointment with His Brother is still highly relevant today, particularly with North Korea’s almost continuous presence in international news headlines. What does the novella show you about North Korea, its culture, and its people that is different from what you imagined from the media coverage of North Korea? What does it tell you about the complex issue of reunification and the potential problems it raises for both North and South? Given what you learn from reading the novella, how would you describe its underlying central theme? Use examples from the text and from the media to illustrate your points.

Please note that the topic and prompt for senior and adult divisions are the same this year.

Read An Appointment with His Brother on our website

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 folktales index page. Please make sure to select a folktale under the "2017 Writing Competition" list. When writing your essay, please be sure to include specific references to the tale you chose to write about. In your analysis or interpretation of the stories, you may also want to make references to your own life experiences.

  1. Select one folktale from the list and explain your interpretation of the story. What do you think it means? What is its importance? Why do you think it was created?
  2. If you could change one of these folktales, what would you change and why? Do you disagree with something the tale is trying to convey?
  3. Which Korean folktale character do you relate to best? Why? Would you make the same decisions as that character?


Divisions: adult (age 25 and younger), senior (grade 12 and younger), and junior (grade 8 and younger)

  • Essays must not exceed 1,000 words in length.
  • Junior division students should refer to our folktales index when choosing a folktale to write about and select one of the stories listed there. Please choose only one topic and folktale to write about.
  • Entries must be submitted through our website.
  • One entry per category per contestant is permitted. (Contestants are permitted one essay and one sijo entry.)
  • All entries must be written in English.
  • Contestants' names cannot be written in their entries.
  • We reserve the right to use all submitted pieces in future publications of the Sejong Cultural Society with no compensation to the authors.
  • We reserve the right to not award any prizes.
  • Winners are generally announced by mid-April. This estimate is subject to change depending on the number of total entries received; a more accurate estimate will be posted on our website around the competition deadline.
  • Adult division: First ($1,000), Second ($750), Third ($500)
  • Senior division: First ($500), Second ($400), Third ($300)
  • Junior division: First ($300), Second ($200), Third ($100)
  • Honorable mention (for all divisions listed above): Friends of Pacific Rim Awards ($50 each)
  • Winners' works may be published in the Korea Times Chicago or the Korean Quarterly.

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