Yesterday I had the honor of being a judge at an English speech contest for North Korean refugee adolescents. This was not the first time being a judge. As I recall, the first time was about 2003 or so when I was the judge of a Valentine's Day poetry contest.
I was also judge at English speech contests hosted by the Hana Foundation during 2017, 2018 and 2019, and I was the "Chief Judge" the last two times. And by Chief Judge, it means you get most of the blame from everyone who doesn't win, doesn't think they were ranked highly enough, or doesn't like something else about the contest.
Yesterday, as Chief Judge, I decided to go with the "You're All Winners" approach. Instead of rankings, the three judges agreed to name categories. Each speech was different, which is a good reminder for those people who ask "What do North Koreans think" or "What is the North Korean view of unification?"
The contest was sponsored by the US Embassy of Korea.
Because of a global pandemic, we all had to wear masks and couldn't invite many people. We were delighted that a few of the mothers could join as well as some of the mentors for the refugee contestants.
The contest started with an unfamiliar MC: FSI co-founder Eunkoo Lee! That's right, the lady who is usually behind the scenes stepped up to be the MC yesterday. We had thought about having a celebrity MC, but during a pandemic, that doesn't always seem to be necessary.
We won't be posting any of the speeches, but if you are interested, you can read: