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Town Hall Seattle: Arts & Culture Series

Town Hall’s Arts & Culture series elevates the voices of local artists while bringing world-renowned cultural icons to Seattle audiences. The series celebrates music, photography, sculpture, philosophy, heritage, and traditions around the world that enrich our lives.

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Oct 17, 2020

During the Pacific War, more than 200,000 Korean girls were forced into sexual servitude for Japanese soldiers. Barely 10 percent survived to return to Korea, where they lived as social outcasts. Since then, self-declared comfort women have come forward only to have their testimonies and calls for compensation largely denied by the Japanese government. In One Left, author Kim Soom tells a fictionalized story of a comfort woman, kidnapped at the age of thirteen to live a life of horror, who embarks on a painful journey to connect with the last known comfort woman to assure her she’s not alone.

Constructed from extensive research and the testimonies of dozens of comfort women, this essential and emotional novel—the first Korean novel devoted to this subject—would be inaccessible for English-speaking readers without the work of translators Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton. The married couple have made it their life’s work to translate Korean literature, especially after realizing they made an “ideal translation team”—Bruce is a native speaker of English who knows Korean, and Ju-Chan is a native speaker of Korean who knows English. They joined us for a livestreamed short reading and discussion of their most recent translation, One Left, and the vital importance of translated works in the literature landscape.

Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton are the translators of numerous volumes of modern Korean fiction, most recently the novels Mina by Kim Sagwa and The Catcher in the Loft by Ch’ŏn Un-yŏng. Their translations of Korean short fiction appear in journals such as The Massachusetts Review, Granta, and Asymptote. Among their awards and fellowships are two U.S. National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowships and the first residency at the Banff International Literary Translation Centre awarded to translators from any Asian language. Bruce Fulton is the inaugural holder of the Young-Bin Min Chair in Korean Literature and Literary Translation, Department of Asian Studies.

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Presented by Town Hall Seattle and Korean American Historical Society.

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