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This past March 11, we were asked to cover the Korean Speech Contest held at the University of Toronto, St. George Campus. This year’s event was located at the Earth Sciences building, starting officially at 12:00 pm and lasting until 5:00 pm.

The contestants for the speech contest are primarily non-Korean (there was one Korean participant in the advanced category) and they are marked by a panel of judges on their grasp of the Korean language. For the first time, the contest was opened up to the high school level, when traditionally the participants had to be university students. With the contest being hosted in Toronto, most of the participants are from schools in the GTA. However, there were a handful of contestants hailing from Alberta, British Columbia, and even Prince Edward Island.

The event makes one feel like they’re visiting South Korea, since most of the staff and volunteers are Korean. Below you’ll see some of the volunteers who kindly posed for our camera.

2017 Korean Speech Contest Volunteers

The speech contest was broken down into tiers ranging from high school level, to beginner, intermediate, and finally, advanced levels. Each tier received 30 seconds more per speech, starting at 2 minutes and 30 seconds at the high school level, and capping at 4 minutes per speech at the advanced level. Following each speech at the advanced level were a series of questions asked by the judges in Korean, which the contestant must also answer in Korean.

As with most speech contests, each contestant has to come up with a topic of their choice and develop a speech around it. Most contestants touched on K-pop and music, dramas, or food, with a notable few handling more sensitive topics such as North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, choice of occupation, and a family who lived through an earthquake. The full list of topics are presented in the other tabs in this article for your convenience.

2017 Korean Speech Contest Prizes closeup

Each tier had prizes for first to third place, with a separate grand prize. The second and third place awards are identical across the tiers. Second place would be awarded a certificate and Bose in-ear wireless headphones, while third place would be awarded a certificate and a backpack. The first place prizes were also mostly identical, with each winner being awarded a certificate, a Samsung Galaxy Tab, as well as the opportunity to study in Korea. For the high school level, the opportunity is awarded by the Ministry of Education, while the university levels as well as the grand prize were all awarded by specific universities in Korea. The beginner level was awarded by Ehwa Women’s University, the intermediate level was awarded by Sogang University, and both the advanced level as well as the grand prize were awarded by Seoul National University.

There was a break in after the end of the Beginner tier speeches, where Galleria Supermarket provided lunch for everyone. They also organized kimbap-making workshops just outside the lecture hall.

2017 Korean Speech Contest Kimbap Making with Galleria

Following the speech contest proper was a 1 hour quiz open to the public, before the awards ceremony. The quiz covered topics ranging from K-pop to Korean dramas and film, as well as some traditional culture and modern infrastructure. Similarly to the speech contest, the quiz also had prizes for the top 4 contestants. Two people in third place were awarded Samsung Galaxy Tabs, the second place contestant was awarded a pair of concert tickets to see Shinee (a K-pop group) in Toronto, and the first place winner was awarded a Samsung Galaxy Tab plus the opportunity to study in the Summer Language Program at SungKyunKwan University in Seoul.

Registration for the quiz happened outside the lecture hall, and was open to everyone attending the event. As a result, the number of people who participated in the quiz was greater than the number of speech contestants.

2017 Korean Speech Contest Quiz

Name School Topic English Translation
Angela Xiang Richmond Hill Secondary School KPOP은 음악, 그 이상이다 KPOP is more than just music.
Gloria Luk Richmond Hill Secondary School 진정한 아름다움 Calm beauty
Nevart Terzian Ray Lewis Elementary School 내가 본 한국 My view on Korea
Yunqi (Michelle) Qiu Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School 언어의 매력 The charm of a language
Myla Carlos Senator O’Connor College School 한 영감을 주는 그룹 The most inspirational KPOP group
Keith Paulite Senator O’Connor College School 내가 배우고 싶었던 이유 The reason I want to study
Tala Arnaout Rick Hansen Secondary School 데이트 프로포즈용 김밥 How to ask someone out on a date with kimbap
Cindy He Rick Hansen Secondary School 교실 내 간이시장 Simple market in classroom

3rd Place:Tala Arnaout from Rick Hansen Secondary School

2017 Korean Speech Contest HS 3rd

2nd Place: Nevart Terzian from Ray Lewis Elementary School

2017 Korean Speech Contest HS 2nd

1st Place: Angela Xiang from Richmond Hill Secondary School

2017 Korean Speech Contest HS 1st

Name School Topic English Translation
Hinny Lam Korean Education Centre 부산 사투리 Busan Dialect
Lina Nguyen Seneca College 술 문화 그리고 게임 Drinking culture and games
Mariah MacDonald University of Prince Edward Island 제가 한국의 언어를 좋아하는 이유 The reason why I like the Korean language
Kyla Munden University of Toronto, Scarborough 살아있는 캔버스 A live canvas
Melanie Closa Seneca College 한국을 너무 너무 좋아해 요 I really really like Korea
Sheena Grace Villegas University of Toronto 해피 투게더 Happy Together
Risa Feng Cornell University 영화처럼 살기 Live like a movie
Shuyan Guan University of Toronto 연애의 고수가 되는 법 How to be a relationship expert
Amran Ali-Yare University of Toronto 나의 세 번째 언어 My third language
Tashna Chae Ramanah York University 부모님도 못 말리는 한국어 사랑꾼 Not even my parents can stop me from loving the Korean language
Calvin Sage University of Toronto 나의 친구 지훈이와 떡볶이 My friend Ji-Hoon and tteokbokki (rice cake)
Hei Tung Chik University of Toronto 청춘 Youth
Kan Irina York University 똑같아요 Same

3rd Place: Melanie Closa from Seneca College

2017 Korean Speech Contest Beg 3rd

2nd Place: Shuyan Guan from University of Toronto

2017 Korean Speech Contest Beg 2nd

1st Place: Hinny Lam from the Korean Education Centre

2017 Korean Speech Contest Beg 1st

Name School Topic English Translation
Gabrielle Phua University of Toronto 지진을 이겨낸 가족 A family who overcame the earthquake
Guangyan Li University of Alberta 한국과 중국의 문화차이 Cultural differences between Korea and China
Ka Bian University of Toronto 헌팅이 만들어 준 내 사랑 My love began with hunting
Sharissa Szelei-Miko York University 한국어 수업이 짓궂어요 Korean class can be tough
Ya Gao University of Toronto 첫 사랑 First love
Zewei Zhang York University 친구와 함께 한 한국여행 A trip to Korea with a friend
Jericho Allick University of Toronto 한국학교에서의 첫 경험 First experience in Korean schools
Tarah Lemours Carleton University 제가 가장 열성적일 때가 언제 일까요? When was my most enthusiastic moment?
Yahui Liu University of Toronto 김정은이 아닙니다. 김정은 동지 입니다. It’s not just Kim Jong-un. It is Comrade Kim Jong-un.
Inah Erni Manitoba Korean School 얼마만큼 우리가 한국말을 공부해야할까요? How much/long should we study Korean?

3rd Place: Yahui Liu from University of Toronto

2017 Korean Speech Contest Int 3rd

2nd Place: Gabrielle Phua from University of Toronto

2017 Korean Speech Contest Int 2nd

1st Place: Guangyan Li from University of Alberta

2017 Korean Speech Contest Int 1st

Name School Topic English Translation
Joyce Woo University of Toronto 콩글리쉬에 눈을 뜨다 Opening eyes to Konglish
Zexin Fu York University 그 맛이 알고 싶다 I want to taste
Frances Darwin Korean Education Centre 강원도 재방문 Re-visiting Gangwon
Tony Jeong University of Toronto, Mississauga 재미있는 한국의 음주문화 Fun part of Korean drinking culture
Clarisa Madilao University of British Columbia 한 한국드라마 팬의 이야기 One K-drama fan’s story
Fengjing Chen University of Alberta 직업의 선택 Choice of occupation
Anastasia Galanova University of Toronto 초코파이 Choco-pie
Susan Choe Seneca College 결혼 Marriage

3rd Place: Zexin Fu from York University

2017 Korean Speech Contest Adv 3rd

2nd Place: Joyce Woo from University of Toronto

2017 Korean Speech Contest Adv 2nd

1st Place: Clarisa Madilao from University of British Columbia

2017 Korean Speech Contest Adv 1st

Grand Prize: Fengjing Chen from University of Alberta

2017 Korean Speech Contest Grand Prize