Since 2006, we have held a national essay contest every year, and distributed our publications to 3,000 middle schools, 6,300 high schools and the top 500 colleges in the United States.
More than 3,300 students have participated in the contests, and about 10% of participants have received awards.
Korea is a country with a rich history and culture that is driven by moral values and honor, as illustrated in the collection of Korean stories shared in the book Chung Hyo Ye. While the book is divided into sections to represent devotion to parents, country and citizens, siblings, and a virtuous life, all the stories interweave these themes with Korea’s principal value of living and acting for the benefit of other people before yourself. All of these stories demonstrate the great Korean code of living unselfishly and thinking of others before thinking of your own needs. It is inspiring to me to think that many of the stories in the book Chung Hyo Ye are based on actual events, and that real people can be that unselfish.
In simply written, yet complexly crafted terms, the book told me that one must love, honor, and respect one’s family, friends,
and country with all of one’s heart and must do so to the very brink of death. Perhaps in this day and age I will not be made
a martyr, neither for country, family nor faith, but I will be called to put myself, in all my selfishness and defiance, to death.
Stories of Hyangdok’s devotion and of Sim Chong, who became the eyes of her father, tell of such unfaltering loyalty.
These, along with all the others, convicted me. I know that I may never live up to the example given by any of these brave
and noble people, but a commitment to attempt to live in this fashion is not one that I am unwilling to make.
I saw for the first time that vow, that desire to conform to the ways told in this book, is not separate and apart from my faith.
It is rather a fulfillment of my faith.
A few days ago I called my mother. It was a simple call, meant only to update her on my schooling, but instead, I wound up crying. I found myself asking for her forgiveness for not being the daughter I should be. I told her the story of Han Seokbong, about the mother who wanted the best for her son and the strong parallel I saw in us. Through quieted tears she replied that she was proud of me. Not because at 17 I received my associate's degree, or that now I am working on a bachelor’s degree and am looking toward medical school, but rather because I had finally learned the lesson that she had so earnestly attempted to impart to me.