Alice Yun Chai (1928-2011) was born Yun Young Koo in Seoul on July 10, 1928, one of seven children of Dr. Yun Il Sun and Margaret Cho Young Sook. She was graduated from Kyŏnggi Girls High School in 1945 and from Seoul National University in 1950, majoring in music. She worked for the U.S. Air Force chaplain’s office as an interpreter working for Korean War orphans from 1950 to 1952. She took the name Alice after Alice Appenzeller of Ewha University.
Chai came to the United States in January 1952 to attend Ohio Wesleyan University. After being graduated from Ohio Wesleyan with a B.A. in sociology in 1955, she studied anthropology at Ohio State University, earning her M.A. in 1957 and her Ph.D. in 1962.
In 1959, she returned to Korea with her husband, Hi Chang Chai, whom she had married in 1955. In Korea, she taught anthropology at Ewha Womans University and Seoul National University from 1959 and 1963. Hi Chang Chai taught at Yonsei University. In 1963, the family moved to Hawai‘i to teach at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She taught in the university’s Women’s Studies Program and worked as a researcher at the East-West Center.
After her retirement, Chai worked for the Chungshindae (“Comfort Women”) Movement globally with Korean and other Asian feminists. Her research publications focused on Asian immigrant women and American and Asian Women. she specialized in feminism and Asian-Pacific women and the history of picture brides.
The Alice Yun Chai collection consists primarily of books from Chai’s library and other research material related to her studies on Asian women. The collection is as yet unprocessed.
For more information about the life of Alice Yun Chai, see the Web site http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/mommy.