Masa Hagino
October 10, 2019

Jim Shon – Author, Publisher of Hawaii Insight Books

Jim Shon (Year of the Boar) 손기철

Contact Jim at: jimshon162@gmail.com


Personal Background. Jim Shon was raised in upstate New York, the son of Pennsylvania natives. His dad's dad was a railroad worker who played the cornet in a RR band. His mom's dad played the fiddle in a small coal-mining village. His cousins became music teachers, and Jim spent most of his time in high school in the music room and reading about the American Civil War. He went to Syracuse University for a BA in music education. In 1969 he joined the Peace Corps and spent three and half years on Jeju Island teaching English as a Second Language.

In 1973 he moved to Hawaii for graduate studies In Korean History: The Intuitive Arena: Pre-Modern Decision Making in Korea;

Hawaii Work. During his 47 years in Hawaii, Jim Shon worked in curriculum development, started an elected neighborhood board, was elected as a Delegate to Hawaii's 1978 Constitutional Convention, and several years later to the State Legislature. Twelve years after leaving Korea Jim returned to Initiate a Sister State pact between Jeju Island and Hawaii. In 1996, he was honored to be awarded Honorary Citizen of Jeju.

His Interests have ranged from marine affairs, health care policy, environmental protection, charter schools, civic education, and senior Issues. He was Executive Director for Charter Schools, and for many years he was Director of the Hawaii Educational Policy Center. Occasionally he teaches graduate courses at the University of Hawaii. He received his doctorate from UH in 2001: The Politics of Community Based Partnerships in the Development of Elder Wellness Networks and Service Delivery Systems.

As a freshman legislator, Jim wrote his first mystery detective novel: Poison in Paradise, which was the first book written by a legislature about the legislature. When he left elected office, he wrote the nonfiction mystery: Poison In Paradise. When he left elected office, he wrote the nonfiction: Inside Hawaii’s Capitol: Lessons in Legislative Democracy. To date, these are the only two books focusing exclusively on Hawaii’s legislature.

Influence.Culturally, Jim Shon was Most influenced by Bruce Catton, Bach, Herb Alpert, Fats Waller, Bob Dylan, Abbey Road, Crosby Stills and Nash, Simon & Garfunkle, Hahm Pyong-choon, Gregory Henderson, Kim Min-ki, Robert Ardrey, Erich Fromm, Theodore H. White, Alvin Toffler, James Michener, and Michael Fullan. He and his wife have participated in Japanese Court Music (Gagaku) since the 1970s, and Jim assisted in the Hawaii International Jazz Festival for ten years.

Latest Work. Following his work with charter schools, Jim wrote the nonfiction: A Charter School Story. Jim Shon has recently partnered with his former legislative colleague David “Masa” Hagino in a series of novellas centered in contemporary Hawaii. These include: The Case of The Good Deed, and The Case of The Rainforest Reunion.

Books by Jim Shon