Born in Korea in 1938, Ty Pak (Tae Young Pak) grew up witnessing two of the most momentous events in Korea's modern history: the liberation of the country in 1945 from Japan and the Korean War between 1950 and 1953. The latter, in particular, has had a profound impact on his psyche and subsequently on his literary landscape, mainly because his father died during the war.
Upon graduation from Seoul National University with a degree in law in 1960, Pak worked for five years as a reporter for The Korean Republic and later The Korea Times. In 1965, he came to the United States to study at Bowling Green State University and received his Ph.D. degree in English in 1969. From 1970 to 1987, he taught at the University of Hawaii.
His debut book was Guilt Payment, a collection of short stories, published by Bamboo Ridge Press in 1983. Years later, he left Hawaii to try a hand at business in Los Angeles. After moving to New York, he published two more books in 1999: Moonbay, another short story collection, and Cry, Korea, Cry, his first novel about the odyssey of a mixed-blood Korean War orphan.
Pak's stories help contextualize the lives of Korean Americans in Hawaii and elsewhere. In doing so, Pak also attempts to subvert the Korean American stereotypes by portraying them as surgeons, generals, professors, and pastors who are capable of reflection as they struggle to reconcile themselves with their past failures and bitter memories.