Trees on a Slope
208pp. March 2005
Trees on a Slope
Author: Hwang Sun-won; Translator: Bruce Fulton and Ju-Chan Fulton;
Hwang Sun-won (1915–2000) is one of modern Korea’s masters of narrative prose. Trees on a Slope (1960) is his most accomplished novel—one of the few Korean novels to describe in detail the physical and psychological horrors of the Korean War. It is an assured, forceful depiction of three young soldiers in the South Korean army during the latter stages of the war: Hyŏnt’ae, the arrogant and overconfident squad leader; the stolid and dependable Yun-gu; and "the Poet" Tong-ho. The war affects the men in different ways. Before he can return home, Tong-ho takes his own life after shooting an officer and a prostitute. Hyŏn-t’ae, finding himself removed from situations of mortal danger, spends most of his time drinking; in the end he is arrested for abetting in the suicide of a young girl. Only Yun-gu is able to make the successful transition to postwar life. His ability to survive the encroachments of others, exploit limited resources, and capitalize on the lessons of harsh experience make him emblematic of Korea over the centuries.

Trees on a Slope will introduce an English-reading audience to an important voice in modern Asian literature.

Modern Korean Fiction Series
"[Hwang] explores the raw, internal landscape of wounded human passions and emotions, a journey that plumbs the depths to catch a glimpse of the nadir of human existence. A work that is philosophically challenging, complex as well as horrific, Trees on a Slope is a testament to the skill and mastery of Hwang Sun-won." —KoreAm, June 2005

"Trees on a Slope is bleak, though never so unremittingly as to make reading hard. The focus is psychological, but the story is simple and straightforward, with an eventful and fast-paced narrative." —

Author: Hwang Sun-won; Translator: Bruce Fulton and Ju-Chan Fulton;
Bruce Fulton is the inaugural holder of the Young-Bin Min Chair in Korean literature and literary translation at the University of British Columbia. He has collaborated with Ju-Chan Fulton on several other translations of Korean fiction, including Hwang Sun-won’s The Moving Castle (1985) and the award-winning Korean women’s fiction anthology Words of Farewell (1989). He is also the co-translator, with Kim Chong-un, of A Ready-Made Life (1998).
Read Chapter 1 (PDF).
Trees on a Slope