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Gregory Shepherd spent his early years in New Jersey, London, England, New York City's Lower East Side, and Honolulu. He lived in Japan for four years studying Zen Buddhism at a temple in Kamakura and was the recipient of a fellowship from the Japanese Ministry of Education for the purpose of researching contemporary Japanese music at Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music. He is fluent in Japanese. While a research fellow he traveled regularly to Seoul where he smuggled democracy literature into the country to a group of Catholic nuns and priests who were actively seeking free and open elections. His interest in North Korea dates from that time during which he learned through contacts that the situation north of the 38th parallel was actually far worse than in the south. Sea of Fire is the culmination of that experience as well as voluminous research on North Korea -- an unimaginably bleak, brutal, sometimes quirky and always a captivating place. For seventeen years Greg Shepherd was the classical music critic and occasional feature writer for the Honolulu Advertiser, Hawaii's main daily newspaper. He has two master's degrees in music and is currently a Professor of Music at Kauai Community College where he has taught since 1988. In 1991 he was a three-time champion on the TV game show “Jeopardy”. As a professional actor (Screen Actors Guild, Actors Equity Association), he has had extensive public speaking experience and would be available for public appearances to promote Sea of Fire. His memoir, “A Straight Road with 99 Curves” (Berkeley: 2013) received excellent reviews: "Deeply involving, instructive, and capable of touching any reader who cares about the search for meaning."—Mitch Horowitz, author of Occult America "In being so frank about his own struggles and fantasies, Greg's personal tale becomes something more universal."—David R. Loy, author of Money, Sex, War, Karma: Notes for a Buddhist Revolution "His portrayal of his brash younger self is a fresh and intensely human portrait compared to the perfect, innocuous paragons of peace ordinarily presented in Zen texts. . . . Shepherd's memoir transcends its subject matter and serves as a poignant reminder of something more fundamental to the human condition: the continual search for validity and meaning."?Publishers Weekly "Dug your book, Greg. Dug your version of the '99 curves'. It's shone light on mine."—Jeff Bridges, actor