Park Wansuh emerged onto the Korean literary scene in 1970 at the age of 40 years old, when she entered her novel, The Naked Tree, into a competition run by a women’s magazine. Korea maintains a peculiar system where, in order to gain recognition as a poet or a novelist, one must win a competition held by a literary magazine or newspaper recognized by influential critics and authors. Park made a relatively late debut, in contrast to most up-and-coming writers, who emerge on the literary stage in their 20s. But she remained highly prolific until her death in 2011, and she is now considered among Korea’s greatest writers.
After leaving her hometown in 1934 to study in Seoul, Park entered the Korean Literature department of Seoul National University, Korea’s leading institution, in 1950. But the outbreak of the Korean War led to the abandonment of her studies, which she did not resume after the war ended. Her works include short story and novella collections such as Mom’s Stake (1982), The Loneliness of You (1998), and the novels A Faltering Afternoon (1977), Winter Was Warm that Year (1983), Are You Still Dreaming? (1989), Who Ate All the Shing-ah? (1992), and To Dream of a Mountain (1995). According to the records of the Korea Literature Translation Institute, Park’s leading works, such as Who Ate All the Shing-ah? and Mom’s Stake, have been translated into nine languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Hungarian, Swedish, and Dutch.