High school student wins gold at Philosophy Olympiad
A third-year student at the Hankuk Academy of Foreign Studies, Yoon Hye-mi, won the gold medal at the 2012 International Philosophy Olympiad (IPO) that took place in Oslo, Norway, from May 16 to 20.
The 18-year-old high school student won Korea its first gold medal from the IPO since it started participating in 2002. Korea has previously produced several silver and bronze medalists, as well as a few honorable mentions, but this is the first time in 10 years it has brought home the gold.
Yoon said the key to her victory was her love of reading, a habit she developed since she was very young. As her favorite genre is fantasy, she started reading J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" in English, which helped establish her foreign language fluency.
She originally planned to study science as a foreign exchange student in the United States and her prospects seem good after she received a perfect score of 2,400 on the SAT in January. Her father, Yoon Min-Sang, 60, said laughing, “I was surprised she won. When she gets back home we will have to discuss again what field of study she should pursue in college.”
This year, 81 students from 39 countries competed. They were given four hours to write a philosophical essay on one of four topics in English, French, or German, as long as it is not the official language of the student’s country. Apart from Yoon, the only other gold medalist for this year came from Lithuania.
The IPO was founded in 1993 by philosophy teachers from Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Turkey and Germany. It is an International Science Olympiad, an annual philosophy competition for high school students, organized by the FISP (Federation Internationale des Societes de Philosophie) and supported by UNESCO.