A Palestinian girl has won the top prize at an essay contest held by Korea University.
In an essay describing her reflections on how she became a fan of Korean pop music and dramas, Maysa Sameer (19), a student at Al Quds University in Palestine, wrote, "I heard a saying that there are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. I decided to choose the latter."
She said that Korean dramas appeared in her life one day like a "miracle" to give her hope of a better tomorrow.
The contest is part of an event held on the sidelines of a two-day seminar taking place in Seoul until Saturday. Global academics have gathered to discuss the Korean Wave phenomenon and present their latest research.
In her essay, Maysa, who grew up watching gun battles on the streets of Palestine, describes how she came into contact with K-pop and TV dramas, which helped her escape the misery and dream of a better and happier future.
She was invited to attend the awards ceremony in Seoul, but was not able to make it due to the unstable political situation there. Maysa responded to questions from the Chosun Ilbo by e-mail on Thursday and said it was "wonderful" to receive an award from the country that she loves second only to Palestine.
For Maysa, who likes singing and dancing to Super Junior and TVXQ, plugging into K-pop and Korean dramas has helped her cope with the hardships of life. She said that when Israeli soldiers stormed into her house early one morning with rifles to search for Hamas revolutionaries, she feared for her life. She added that her dream is for peace to come to Palestine so she can travel freely to Korea.
"I would first try to meet TVXQ and visit the spots where my favorite TV dramas are filmed," Samir wrote.