Born in Korea in 1938, Ty Pak lived through his country’s liberation from Japan in 1945, its division under US and Soviet occupation, and the trauma of the Korean War, 1950-53, during which his father died. After getting his law degree at Seoul National University in 1961, he worked as a reporter for the English dailies, Korean Republic and Korea Times, until 1965 when he came to the US and got his Ph.D. in English at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, 1969. After a year’s post-doctoral work at UC Berkeley, he taught in the English Department, University of Hawaii, from 1970 to 1987, when he took early retirement to devote himself to writing.
Guilt Payment (1983), a collection of his 13 stories, critically acclaimed and widely adopted as a textbook at many US college campuses, is sold at such national chains as Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. His latest books, Cry Korea Cry, a novel, and Moonbay, a collection of 7 short stories previously published in various journals, have enjoyed rave reviews. His fiction explores the aspirations, idealism, and angst of Korean Americans, as they strive to carve out a destiny for themselves and their children in the American mainstream.
As one of his scholarly admirers has remarked, Ty Pak’s “prime merit ... is the unflinching confrontation with the voids and wounds, both psychic and physical, that drive and inhibit a generation of Koreans born to division, war and a homeland that is not whole either.”
His scholarly work in over 40 articles and monographs has appeared in Language, Lingua, Semiotica, Journal of Formal Logic, and other learned journals.
Ty Pak has been invited to speak by various universities, civic groups, and local high schools on Korean American literature. In 1984 he chaired the Korean American Literature Panel at UCLA and in 1989 he was on the Asian American Writers Series at UC Berkeley and Cal State Hayward. He spoke on Korean American literature at the Korean American Student Conferences, Harvard and MIT (1990) and Rutgers (1999). In 1991 he was Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Occidental College. In 1999 he spoke at UCLA, University of Hawaii, George Washington University, and University of Maryland, and in 2001 he gave a seminar on his fiction at the joint invitation of the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and the Korea Institute, Harvard University. In March 2002 he spoke on Asian American Literature at the Writing Department and Asian Students Association, Wellesley College, and on Korean Literature in January 2003 at MIT.
Married and with three children, Ty Pak now lives in Honolulu, Hawaii.