Gary Pak


Gary Pak

Office hours:
Fall 2017 Mon/Wed, 10-11 am; and by appt.

Gary Pak is a third-generation Korean American whose grandparents, fleeing an occupied Korea, arrived here in 1905. Besides being published in numerous anthologies, magazines and literary journals, he is the author of The Watcher of Waipuna and Other Stories (Bamboo Ridge Press, 1992), A Ricepaper Airplane (University of Hawai`i Press, 1998), Children of a Fireland (UH Press, 2004), Language of the Geckos and Other Stories (University of Washington Press, 2005) and Brothers Under a Same Sky (UH Press, 2013). Also forthcoming is a creative nonfiction book, Chon-go Ma-bi / High Sky and Horse Fattening: Essays on Contemporary Korean Culture. He co-edited Yobo: Korean American Writing in Hawai‘i (Bamboo Ridge Press, 2003). He has published a children’s play, Beyond the Falls, which was produced by the Honolulu Theater for Youth in 2001. Kumu Kahua Theatre also adapted and produced for stage two of his works, “The Watcher of Waipuna” and A Ricepaper Airplane. His awards and fellowships are from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, the Elliot Cades Literary Prize, the Association for Asian American Studies, the Research Corporation of the University Hawai‘i, the Hawai‘i Book Publishers Association, and the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (Fulbright). For Pak, all art/writing is political. In his writing classes, he integrates currents in history, politics, science, art and other forms of culture, such as film and jazz. One of his favorite sayings that he tries to live daily is by Duke Ellington: “I took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues.” As for the work ethic, he cites Gabriel Garcia Marquez: “Writing is nothing but carpentry.” A classically trained jazz pianist, he performs with his trio 2-3 times a month in Honolulu jazz clubs.


  • A Ricepaper Airplane (novel)
  • Children of a Fireland (novel)
  • The Watcher of Waipuna (short story collection)
  • Beyond the Falls (children's play)
  • Language of the Geckos (short story collection)
  • Brothers Under a Same Sky (novel)
  • Stories, essays, etc. in lit mags and anthologies

Areas of Interest

Creative writing, literatures of Hawai‘i and the Pacific, Asian American literature, Korean American literature, Ethnic American literature, modern Korean literature in translation, contemporary Korean and East Asian cinema, new physics, jazz, social movements in Hawai'i.  Producer, writer and editor of the ‘Ōlelo Community TV series, Plantation Children: 2nd-generation Koreans in Hawai‘i.


  • Fulbright grantee, 2002
  • Honorable Mention for the Association for Asian American Studies' 2004 Book Award in the Prose/Poetry category: Children of a Fireland (U of Hawai'i Press, 2004), 2006
  • Nominations to Pushcart, After Columbus, PEN-Faulkner, Kuriyama, U.S. Artist, among others.


BA Boston University MA University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa PhD University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa