Alice Bennell to visit South Korea in NovemberEver since I first watched Korean historical drama Dae Jang Geum back in 2006, I began to to develop a strong interest in Korean culture. With encouragement from several DJG fans, I set up an online campaign to get Dae Jang Geum shown here in the UK.
And so the 'Show Dae Jang Geum on BBC' Campaign was formed, this website created, and an online petition set up. The campaign soon caught the attention of the Korean media; in particular a news report by Korean channel YTN News, which attracted 16,000 visitors to this site within a 24-hour period.It was in 2006 that I first discovered Korean culture. Fast forward 4 years - I find myself the 3rd place winner in a worldwide Korean Literature Essay Contest, and preparing for my first ever trip to the capital of South Korea. So much has happened so quickly...
Since 2005, the Korean Literature Translation Institute in Seoul has held an annual 'Korean Literature Essay Competition'
to promote Korean literature throughout the world. Through each country's Korean Embassy and Cultural Centre, the competition is held in 16 countries worldwide.
2009 was the first year the competition was open to UK entrants, so I decided to enter. The rules were simple - read the set text of a Korean masterpiece and write a 2,000 word critical essay.
And so I spent the summer reading Ch'oe Yun's 'There a Petal Silently Falls'
, a complex story told in a polyphonic narrative. Many found the story difficult to understand, and I was perplexed. Eventually I decided to just write my own thoughts and feelings about the book. Luckily, the judge (a Korean professor at Oxford University) really liked my essay, and awarded my essay 1st place in the
UK's first 'Korean Literature Essay Competition'. At the award ceremony in December 2009 (held in London's Korean Cultural Centre), I was presented with my prize - a beautiful hand-painted scroll, and a Samsung laptop.
As the UK winner of last year's essay competition, I was put forward for the international competition (along with essay winners from 15 other countries - America, Canada, Mexico, Peru, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Vietnam, Indonesia, China and Japan).
I am very honoured to be named as the 3rd place essay winner worldwide! The Korean Literature Translation Institute
have invited me to Seoul for an award ceremony, along with the other 'top 5' winners.
I am very excited, this will be my first time visiting South Korea. I look forward to visiting the museums and palaces in Seoul, experiencing Korean cuisine (잘먹겠습니다!
), and of course shopping in one of the many Dae-mun markets!
My dream to 'visit Korea one day' has come true! I will be arriving in Seoul (from London) on Wednesday 17th November, and will be spending 5 days in the city.