My name is Hi-Dong Chai. Born in Seoul, Korea, and educated in the U.S. with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. After working for IBM for 19 years, I went to San Jose State University in San Jose, CA, and taught there for 15 years. During my technical career in IBM, I — as an inventor/coinventor — had 52 inventions, which were either filed for the U.S. patents or published in the IBM Invention Disclosue Bulletin. I authored/coauthored 40 technical papers mostly in the area of incremental motion devices. Also I authored a book, Electromechanical Motion Devices, Prentice Hall, 1998.
Singing has been in my blood since birth. As a child I sang walking the streets of Seoul, often scolded by my mother. I sang in choirs from elementary school on. In America I took 10+ years of vocal lessons under 7 teachers and was a paid baritone soloist at historic Second Church in Newton, MA, during my graduate years in Boston. Two CDs — Sacred Songs and Much Loved Songs — were recorded to share with the public.
Since retiring as a professor emeritus from San Jose State University in 2002, I have devoted my time to share my thoughts, my feelings and my life experiences through writing. My main focus was to complete a story based on my experience living in Korea during WWII under the Japanese, and during the Korean War under the North Korean Communists. To develop the creative writing skill, I attended writing workshops, writers’ conferences, and monthly meetings of South Bay branch of California Writers Club. In 2006 I met Jana McBurney-lin, author of My Half of the Sky. She mentored me in the art of creative writing.
During our mentor-student relationship, I asked her to be my coauthor. She agreed and turned my story into a historical novel, Blossoms and Bayonets, a story based on my family under Japan during WWII, and it was published in 2012. Meanwhile, I continued to expand my original story from which Blossoms and Bayonets was based and completed it in June, 2013. Inspiring Voices of the Guideposts magazine published (self-published) a paperback and e-version in November, 2013. The title of the story is Shattered by the Wars (but Sustained by Love) that covers the period from WWII under Japan to the Korean War. In November, 2016, Christian Faith Publishing formally published and is currently marketing Shattered by the Wars with a new title, Sustained by Love thru the Wars. The book is available at Barnes and Noble, on Amazon and brick-and-mortar bookstores.
Sustained by Love thru the Wars is a story of human suffering, the life of a happy family turning into a nightmare because of foreign invaders. During WWII, the Japanese took my father to prison because he was a Christian minister who refused to bow down to the picture of the Japanese emperor. My fifteen years old brother volunteered to join the Japanese military in the hope of having his father released from the prison. He left home as a vibrant 15 year old boy, and after the war he returned home as a worn-out, injured 18 year old man, and died a year later from his injury. After WWII, another brother of mine turned a communist in the democratic South Korea, and he was put into prison by the South. When North Korea invaded the South in 1950, the Northern army entered Seoul and released my communist brother, but they took my father away. My father never returned. Then the day before the Southern army took back its capital city, Seoul, my communist brother left home. He never returned.
So through the two wars, I lost my father, two brothers, and my best friend, a dog. I had to let my best friend go because we did not have enough food left even for the family during the Korean War. I am sure there are tens of thousands families around the world with the stories to share — like mine.
I decided to write this story in the hope that by sharing how my happy family had suffered during the wars, the readers would seek peace instead of war, and brotherhood instead of disunity regardless of differences in race, creed, nationality…
I also feel that it is a must-read book for many Americans to appreciate how fortunate they are to live in America where no foreign soldiers walk the streets with bayonets on their shoulders and tell them what god to worship, what language to speak, what flag to fly… We, Americans, are truly blessed indeed. Let us keep our country to stay to be the bulwark for liberty and justice not only for Americans but for all the people in the world.