Translated by: Hannah Kim
Publisher: Kitaab International, 2018
Was that Mountain Really there? by Park Wan-Suh, an award winning and well-known Korean novelist, has recently been translated by Hannah Kim and published by Kitaab. The novel depicts the trauma of partition faced by civilians in a war that reft Korea in two. Was that Mountain Really There? portrays the suffering caused by a war created by the clash of communist and capitalist ideologies.
Park Wan-Suh was separated from her mother and brother by the border etched by the Korean War (1950-53) and found herself in the South while her family was in the North. Korean critic Kim Byeong-ik states that her writing is ‘the only record of how people survived in Seoul during the Korean War;’ however, her book is equally relevant in the current context of the ravages of war and refugee influx, a worldwide concern to date.
According to Theodore Hughes of Columbia University, ‘Park Wan-Suh is important for the ways in which her writing is at once popular (nearly all her works are best-sellers) and canonical. She is widely discussed in Korean academia and she has become the subject of dissertations. While this is also the case for many male writers, Park Wan-Suh may have combined the two levels more successfully than any other novelist.’
More than half a dozen of her novels have been translated into English, the latest being Was the Mountain Really There? This translation highlights both the uniqueness of Korean life and culture and the universality of human sufferings and interactions that transcends borders of all kinds.
If you can track down a copy of this book, you are a true sleuth. Out of stock at the publishers, impossible to find in any western catalogues... Maybe it was never published in the first place. We jest, because Kitaab did a nice interview with the translator to celebrate the launch. But surely they must have printed at least *some* copies?