• According to my life path number 3, I was destined
    to write (that is if you believe in numerology and I do). But as a youngster, I
    was an athlete, a gymnast with boundless energy, spending most of my time
    upside down, turning cartwheels and doing backflips – I was too carefree to tap
    into my creative side.

    That all changed on my seventeenth birthday, two
    days after my father’s untimely death. Call it a gut-wrenching aha moment, a
    reflective day of tearful soul-searching when I realized that I knew very
    little about my parents – their lives and dreams growing up in Korea, their
    struggles to survive in a world of war, oppression, and life shattering events.

    For the next few months, I was fretful, clinging to
    my mother, yearning to know her life story as well as my father’s, fearing our
    time together was like sand in an hourglass. Night after night, we stayed up late
    sifting through old photos as my mother shared anecdotal events of the
    homeland. I was mesmerized, listening, interpreting, and ultimately crafting my
    art while documenting my family’s rich past that spanned the Korean peninsula
    from the northern port city of Sinuiju to the capital city of Seoul.

    And, so, began my writing journey.

    While I never followed in my father’s Harvard
    footsteps, writing books and owning a boutique chocolate shop in the heart of
    downtown Washington, DC have been my true education. Yes, Books and Chocolate. As
    writer and entrepreneur, I’ve built a sweet life, surviving and thriving in an
    uncertain world.

    I’ve written a delicious chocolate memoir and a cookbook
    for allergy sufferers as well as some whimsical picture books such as Where
    on Earth Is My Bagel?
    and The Have a Good Day Café. Do you see a
    theme here? Yes, I’m a foodie at heart! But it is the books inspired by my parents’
    experiences growing up in Japanese occupied Korea, enduring the Russian
    invasion of their homeland and the Korean War, that have deeper meaning, bring
    a tragic yet vibrant world back to life.

    Sadly, my mother passed away in 2019, but like my
    father, she lives on through my books, which have garnered many accolades
    including the International Reading Association’s Children’s Book Award,
    Paterson Prize for Books for Young People, The Joan G. Sugarman Children’s Book
    Award, Outstanding Merit, Best Children’s Books of the Year, Bank Street
    College, Parents’ Choice Award, A Junior Library Guild Selection, IRA-CBC
    Teachers’ Choice Award, and NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book For
    Young People Children’s Book Award.

    My books have been published by National Geographic,
    Boyds Mills & Kane, Hyperion, Lee & Low, St. Martin’s Press, and Thomas

    I’m honored to add Regal House Publishing to the
    list with the publication of my latest work The Hundred Choices Department
    . Set in Sinuiju, Korea, this historical novel is inspired by my
    mother’s remembrances of her family’s painful struggles during the Russian
    invasion of their hometown and ultimate flight south, across the 38th parallel to
    Seoul, just prior to the outbreak of the Korean War.

    When I’m not writing or spending treasured time with
    my human and fur baby family, I’m usually at my shop, behind the counter
    ‘breaking chocolate’ with my beloved customers. My shop motto: There’s a
    chocolate for every mood.
    But for me it’s always something dark and earthy that
    lingers on the tongue long after the chocolate has melted.


  • Most of my books are inspired by past and present family members.  Like all families, ours is rich with history and humor, tragedy and victory.  My goal is to share these stories with kids in the hopes that they, too, will someday delve into their own family roots, and write stories that inspire. 

    People always ask me what drives me to write.  One of my favorite quotes comes from Paulo Coelho:  I’d have stopped writing years ago if it were for the money.  I write for myself, my readers, and my sanity. :-)

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