John Pai was born in Seoul, Korea in 1937 to Reverend father and mother who was raised in Russia.
He and his family came to America in 1949 when he was 12 years old. His father and mother went back to Seoul since it was the time of radical political change. He lived in West Virginia alone with American family.
He remembers drawing in countryside of Korea and being interested in art at a young age.
Pai held a one-man show of 24 paintings at the Oglebay Institute at the age of 14.
In 1958, Pai got a four year scholarship to attend Pratt Institute. In the beginning he studied Industrial Design. However, his work began to lean more toward sculpture. After getting Bachelor degree from Pratt, he traveled Europe to study art.
Pai received a full time fellowship for graduate study at Pratt and he concentrated on sculpture. At that time he began teaching at both the Parsons School of Design and at Pratt. In 1965, he became chairman of the undergrad sculpture program at Pratt Institute. In 1974, he resigned as Director in order to give fuller time to his own work.
Pai has been showing his work in Seoul, Paris, and New York.
He lives and works near Pratt with his family.