Seoul’s seeking writers

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Seoul’s seeking writers

“Seoul Stories” is about to add another chapter to its collection.
For eight years, the Seoul city government’s annual poem-and-essay contest has devoted itself to illuminating the various faces of the city. Unlike previous contests, which featured relatively broad, open-ended topics related to Seoul, this year’s competition focuses solely on the Cheonggye stream.
“We decided that Seoul was too broad a topic,” said Lee Jong-gil, a contest official, who noted that contests in future years will also have a specific theme.
Cheonggyecheon (“cheon” is the Korean word for stream) is the sickly remnant of a waterway that once flowed through downtown Seoul. It’s in the process of being renewed, as construction workers break it free of its asphalt shell to create a waterway in the heart of the city.
Organizers aren’t calling the contest a strict literary competition; rather, they hope to use it to promote dialogue. It is being portrayed as an opportunity, not only for Koreans but for the foreign community, to ruminate about and appreciate the beauty and changes in Seoul that are often taken for granted.
“Our goal is to create an event where not only Koreans but also foreigners can take the time to know Seoul and introduce it to the world,” Mr. Lee said. The contest has grown in popularity each year, according to city officials. Last year, 744 submissions were received.
Entries may be in Korean, English, Japanese or Chinese, and should be no longer than three single-spaced pages. The deadline for entries is August 31. Poems and essays will be judged separately, as will submissions from Koreans and non-Koreans. Awards range up to 3 million won ($2,600) for the top prize. For details, go to the Web site

by Hur Aram
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